Instructions in the Preparation of Body Linen


The  Ladies'  Work Table  Book

Page 1

-Page 1 Frills   Page 2 Night Gowns
-The Work-Box Handkerchiefs   Ladies Drawers Flannel Petticoats
-The Work Room Scarves   Shifts Petticoats
-Aprons Veils   Ladies Flannel Waistcoat Pockets
-Caps Cloaks   Ladies Night Jacket Bustles
The Work-Box

In order to secure economy of time, labor and expence, and also to do every thing neatly and in order, the lady who is intending to engage in the domestic employment of preparing the linen necessary for personal and family use, should be careful to have all her materials ready and disposed in the most systematic manner possible, before commencing work. The materials employed in the construction of articles which come under the denomination of plain needlework are so various, that a mere list of them would occupy more than half our space; and they are so well known, that no necessity exists for naming them in detail. We shall therefore proceed at once to give plain directions, by which any lady may soon become expert in the necessary department of household uses, merely observing that a neat work-box, well supplied with all the implements required - including knife, scissors, of at least three sizes, needles and pins in sufficient variety, bodkins, thimbles, thread and cotton, bobbins, marking silks, black-lead pencils, Indian rubber etc. should be provided and be furnished with a lock and key, to prevent the contents being thrown into confusion by children, servants or unauthorized intruders.

The Work Room

The lady being thus provided, and having her materials, implements etc. placed in order upon her work-table, to the edge of which it is an advantage to have a pincushion affixed by means of a screw - may commence her work and proceed with pleasure to herself and without annoyance to any visitor who may favour her with a call. We would recommend, wherever practicable, that the work-table should be made of cedar and that the windows of the working parlour should open into a garden well supplied with odoriferous flowers and plants, the perfume of which will materially cheer the spirits of those especially, whose circumstances compel them to devote the greatest portion of their time to sedentary occupations. If these advantages cannot be obtained, at least the room should be well ventilated and furnished with a few cheerful plants and a well-filled scent-jar. The beneficent Creator intended all His children, in whatever station of life they might be placed, to share in the common bounties of His providence; and when she, who not for pleasure, but to obtain the means of subsistence, is compelled to seclude herself, for days or weeks together, from the cheering influence of exercises in the open air, it becomes both her duty and that of those for whom she labors, to secure as much of these advantages, or of the best substitutes for them, as the circumstances of the case will admit.

We now proceed to lay down what we hope will be found clear though concise rules, for the preparation of various articles of dress and attire.


These are made of a variety of materials and are applied to various uses. The aprons used for common purposes are made of white, blue, brown, checked and sometimes of black linen; nankeen, stuff and print are also employed. The width is generally one breadth of the material and the length is regulated by the height of the wearer. Dress aprons are of course made of finer materials:- cambric muslin, silk, satin, lace, clear and other kinds of muslin, etc. and are generally two breadths in width, one of which is cut in two, so as to throw a seam on each side and leave an entire breadth for the middle. Aprons of all kinds are straight and either plaited or gathered on to the band or stock at the top. Those with only one breadth, are hemmed at the bottom with a broad hem; those with two breadths must be hemmed at the sides likewise. The band should be from half a nail to a nail broad; its length is to be determined by the waist of the wearer. It should be fastened at the back with hooks and eyelet holes. To some aprons, pockets are attached, which are either sewed on in front, or at the back, and a slit made in the apron to correspond with them. The slit, or opening of the pocket is to be hemmed neatly, or braided, as may be most desirable. In some kinds of aprons, bibs are introduced, which are useful to cover the upper part of the dress. Their size must be determined by the taste of the person who is to wear them.

Dress Aprons
Take two breadths of any material you choose, dividing one of them in the middle. Hem all roud with broad hem, three-fourths of a nail deep. The band is to be one and a half nails deep in the middle, into which a piece of whalebone is to be inserted, on each side of which work a row or two in chain stitch. The band is scolloped out from the centre, on its lower side, five and half nails, leaving the extremities of the band one nail broad. To the scolloped portion, the apron is to be fulled on, so as to sit as neat as possible; leaving the space beneath the whalebone, plain. Confine the folds by working two rows of chain stitch, just below the curved lines of the band, leaving half an inch between each row. The lower edge of the band is ornamented with a small piping, but is left plain at the top.

Vandyke Apron
This may be either of silk or muslin. The edge of the apron is to be turned down once all round, on the right side, to the depth of three-quarters of a nail; and the vandykes are formed by running from the edge of the apron to near the rough edge of the material, which is afterwards to be turned in. When the vandykes are completed, they are to be turned inside out and made as smooth as possible. A braid, or a row of tent stitch on the right side, over the stitches, is a pretty finish. In setting on the band, the plaits must be placed opposite to each other, so as to meet in the middle. You may line the band with buckram, or stiff muslin, and ornament it with piping, if you please.

Apron for a Young Person
Clear muslin is the best material. Hem round with a hem, three fourths of a nail deep; lay all round, wuthin the hem, a shawl bordering, not quite so broad as the hem. Of course, the latter must be taken off before washing.

A Morning Apron
This may be made like the last, but instead of the shawl bordering, surround the outer edge of the hem by a deep crimped frill, a nail in breadth. The material most in use, is jaconet or cambric muslin; the frill of lawn, or cambric, which you please.


These are made of a great variety of patterns, and the materials are as various as the purposes to which the article is applied. Muslins of various kinds, lawn, net, lace and calico are all in request; and the borders are also extremely various. Muslin, net or lace being those most in common use. The shapes are so multifarious as to preclude us from giving any specific directions. Every lady must choose her own pattern, as best suits the purpose she has in view. The patterns should be cut in paper, and considerable care is requisite in cutting it out, not to waste the material. A little careful practice will soon make this department familiar to the expert votaress of the needle.


These are used as ornaments or a finish to various articles of dress. The materials are cambric muslin, lace, net etc., and the manner in which they are made is various. Sometimes they are set on quite plain, that is, hemmed round and plaited up into neat folds to the width required. At other times, frills are fitted to a band and the edge that is to be hemmed is stiffened by rolling it over a bobbin; it is put on as an ornament to a gown and is tied with strings at the end. Crimped frills are worn by young children and look extremely neat. They are made of lawn or cambric and sewed on to a band. The other edge is hemmed and the frill is double the size round the neck. The band should be half a nail in depth, and the frill is to be crimped as evenly as possible.

Neck and Pocket Handkerchiefs

These are made of a great variety of materials as silk, muslin, cambric, lawn and net. The neck handkerchiefs are generally a half square, and are hemmed all round. It is a good plan to turn up the extreme corner, as it makes it more strong and durable. A tape is set on, which comes round the waist and ties in front. Sometimes a broad muslin hem is put on the two straight sides, which looks extremely well. Some ladies work a border to their neck handkerchief, which gives to those made of net, the appearance of lace. Pocket handkerchiefs are neatly hemmed and sometimes have a worked border. Those used by gentlemen are of a larger size than those of ladies.


A Ribbon Scarf
This is made of broad satin ribbon and must not be less than two nails and a half wide; its length is two yards and three quarters. The ribbon is to be doubled on the wrong side and run in a slanting direction, so as to cause it to fall gracefully on the neck. The ends are to be embroidered and ornamented with braid, or left plain, as may suit the fancy. The scarf is to be surrounded by an edging of swan's down. This is an elegant article of feminine attire.

A Plain Scarf
This is generally made of net, the whole breadth, and two yards and a half long. It is hemmed all round with a broad hem, so as to admit a ribbon to be run in, which gives it a neat and finished appearance.

A Dress Shawl
Take a half square of one yard and twelve nails of satin velvet or plush, which you please, and line it with sarsenet, either white or colored; trim the two straight edges with a hem of either silk or satin, from one to one nail and a half in breadth and cut crossway. Or you may trim it with fur, lace or fringe.


These are made of net, gauze or lace and are plain or worked, as suits the taste of the wearer. White veils are generally of lace; mourning ones are made of black crape. The jet-black is to be preferred as it wears much better than the kind termed blue-black. Coloured veils look well with a satin ribbon of the same colour and about a nail deep, put on as a hem all round. For white ones, a ribbon of a light colour is preferable, as it makes a slight contrast. A crape or gauze veil is hemmed round; that at the bottom being something broader than the rest. All veils have strings run in at the top, and riding ones are frequently furnished with ribbon at the bottom, which enables the wearer to obtain advantage of a double one, by tying the second string round her bonnet, where she is desirous to screen her eyes from the sun and dust, and at the same time to enjoy the advantage of a cool and refreshing breeze. Demi-veils are short veils, fulled all round the bonnet, but most at the ears, which makes them fall more gracefully. It is advisable to take them up a little at the ears, so as not to leave them the full depth; without this precaution, they are liable to appear unsightly and slovenly.


These useful and necessary articles of dress are generally made up by a dress-maker; it is unnecessary therefore to give particular directions concerning them. The materials are silks and stuffs of almost every variety, including satin, merino, cloth, real and imitation shawling, plaids and Orleans. The latter is now very generally used. Travelling cloaks are made of a stronger material, and are trimmed in a much plainer style than those used in walking dresses. Satin cloaks look well with velvet collars and are also frequently trimmed with the same material. Merino and also silk cloaks, are often trimmed with fur or velvet and lined with the same. Sometimes they are made perfectly plain. The lining of a silk or satin cloak, should be of the same color, or else a well-chosen contrast; and care should be taken, that the color should be one that is not liable to fade, or to receive damage. An attention to these general remarks will be found of much advantage to the lady who, in making her purchases, is desirous of combining elegance of appearance with durability of wear and economy of price.

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