Vintage Needlework Book for Beginners: The Library of Work and Play

Here we have a delightful antiquarian book called The Library of Work and Play: Needlecraft. The book has 2 charming color pages in the front, and a variety of black and white illustrations and diagrams. This book is copyright 1911. It is quite a substantial book, with a whopping 381 pages. There are a variety of topics covered, including beadwork, sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, weaving, smocking, hardanger, appliqué, lace making, raffia work, and more. There are a variety of patterns given, including some great antique doll clothes patterns. So if you’ve got an antique doll in need of some clothing, check out this book for some ideas! The doll clothes patterns given are lovely.

The best, absolute BEST thing about this book is that it was written for young girls. Why, you might ask, would that matter? Well, there are a couple of reasons. If you’ve spent any time at all perusing antique needlework patterns that were written for adults, you’ve no doubt discovered that they can be a bit frustrating for modern needleworkers to work from. A lot of important details tend to be glossed over or omitted entirely. The authors just assumed that the reader knew what she was talking about. And, chances are, she did ~ at the time. But fast forward to now, and, well, most of us just aren’t as needle-savvy as our grandmothers and great grandmothers were. That is one reason why this book is such a treasure! It is like a gold mine full of introductory techniques that are written in simple language, easy enough that a total beginner could understand. Yet, the patterns are challenging enough and interesting enough to tempt even the most experienced of needleworkers, seamstresses and knitters. Many of these items are appealing for their charm as antiques and collectibles. Some of them are so classic that you could make them and use them right now without any problems.

The other reason I think this book is such an exciting find: it contains incredible patterns for doll clothes. Since this book was written to appeal to an audience of young girls, doll clothes were an appropriate inclusion. Quality antique doll clothing patterns can be a bit hard to find, and so these patterns are sure to be appreciated by collectors of antique dolls.

The book’s contents include:

  • What you should have in your work box- sewing on buttons ~ basting ~ darning.
  • Back stitching ~ Over casting ~ Creasing a Hem and Hemming ~ Rolling a Hem ~ French Hemming ~ Sewing on tapes and hooks and eyes.
  • Gathering ~ sewing on bands ~ a practical sewing apron ~ hemmed patches ~ gussets and tucks.
  • A doll’s Skirt ~ sewing case ~ bindings ~ doll’s bed linen ~ pin case.
  • Making buttonholes ~ cutting from a pattern ~ a doll’s dress.
  • A lesson in stenciling.
  • What can be done with one skin ~ cut leather bags, belts, book covers, etc.
  • Tooled leather and tools necessary.
  • The simplest stitches in embroidery ~ chain stitching, outlining, herring boning, cross stitching (some charts included), soutache, coronation braiding. (One illustration shows what you can do with the coronation braid ~ it is so pretty!)
  • Smocking ~ feather stitching ~ lazy daisy stitch.
  • Couching ~ Shadow work ~ Turkish stitch ~ How to stamp designs.
  • Buttonholing and Wallachian Embroidery
  • Roman Cut work (cutwork) ~ fancy button holing for borders ~ Bermuda fagoting
  • Satin stitch and marking
  • Eyelets and French Knots ~ Bullion stitch, and other fancy stitches
  • Long and Short ~ Kensington embroidery ~ Ribbon work for simple flowers.
  • Hardanger embroidery for squares, pin cushions (pincushions) and spreads (bedspreads.)
  • Applique on linen and other materials ~ Hedebo embroidery.
  • Hemstitching for handkerchiefs (hankies) and collar and cuff sets ~ simple drawn work (drawnwork) stitches.
  • Easy lace stitches ~ faggoting, single mesh, double mesh, spiders, fan, Maltese cross, twisted and buttonhole bars, picots for simple edge.
  • Simple baskets
  • Raffia and napkin rings. Raffia hats.
  • Knotting for dolls’ hammocks, shopping bags, and other purposes
  • Simple bead chains on single strings ~ a homemade bead loom ~ woven chains ~ belts and purses. Antique beading patterns and beadwork, especially flapper style beaded bags, have been tremendously popular with collectors lately ~ this chapter of the book is sure to be of interest! If you are looking for some simple, introductory type vintage patterns for beading, definitely check these out.
  • Braiding and weaving four and six strands. Weaving on looms.
  • Simple crocheting ~ stitchery for edges and shawls.
  • Pattern directions for making doll caps and capes, jackets and a child’s bedroom slippers.
  • Irish crochet lace
  • Knitting, plain, and purling ~ wash rags ~ fancy stitches for shawls.
  • Doll’s cap, hood, leggings and jackets.
  • Embroidery suggestions for boarding school girl.

Some of the illustrations in the book include:

  • The last step is making the buttonholes
  • The right way to darn
  • A single motif being used on a stenciled scarf
  • Many a happy hour is spent embroidering
  • It is jolly to make a raffia work bag
  • Sewed raffia baskets make attractive gifts
  • The fascinating task of making bead chains
  • A cushion top can be woven on a simple hand loom
  • Her first knitted shawl

If you are interested in fashion design, costume design for theatre, history, historical re-enactments, sewing, needlecraft, embroidery, beadwork, knitting, dressmaking, mending, vintage fashion, crafts, textiles, stitching, handwork, piecework, fancy work, antique dolls, or anything related, then you are sure to enjoy this book!

Purchasing Options for the Library of Work and Play: Needlecraft

Please note that this book was part of a series. There are many other titles in the series, so if you want this book specifically you need to be sure of which book you are considering. The other editions, as far as I can tell, all have the same cover. So what you need to make sure of is which volume in the set you are looking at. Other editions include gardening, sports and games, mechanics, home decoration, etc. I am sure those books are all fantastic too, and I bet they would be interesting to read. This volume is the “Needlecraft” volume, so keep that in mind if you are interested in purchasing the specific book that I have described here.

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This book is not easy to find, but copies of it do come up for sale from time to time. You can Click here to search for them on ebay.

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