Helen Campbell.

The American girl's home book of work and play online

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from 45 to 60 F. ; but with a stream, fountain, or motion,
70 or even 80 need not be feared. Avoid sunshine, and
remove any dead or decaying matter. Keep a stick of char-
coal in the water : it acts as a deodorizer or purifier. Aim
at an even temperature, and avoid extreme cold.

10. Never use a bell-glass of great size, but employ shal-
low vessels, and tanks with only one side of glass, and the
other three opaque, made of some non-corrosive substance,
such as enamelled slate ; avoiding all metallic materials,
such as bronze, iron, lead, etc.

n. Never change the water : regard it as an indestructible
medium for sustaining life. Find out how much it will main-
tain under given circumstances ; keep that much, and no
more. A small still aquarium can be self-sustained as well
as larger ones with a large service of water and circulating

12. The best proportion for a tank is that having the lar-
gest surface and smallest depth proportionate to the size of
the animals. It does not matter so much how the aeration
is obtained, as long as it is sufficient.

For small domestic aquaria, five or ten minutes' daily
attention, paid regularly, is enough to keep any well-regu-
lated tank in order. Besides this, I used to give mine about
an hour once a week. Skim the surface with a cup, strain
it through muslin, add the amount of fresh watei necessary
to supply the loss by evaporation, mix the frcslj well with


the salt water, and before returning it to the tank rub the
glass side or sides to keep down the growth of weed, which
is sure to obscure the glass unless frequently rubbed off. A
bit of sponge or rag tied firmly around a stick answers per-
fectly. For feeding anemones, etc., a small pair of wooden
forceps are desirable. Never handle or tease any of the




IT is a real walking-club of, on the whole, very sensible
girls, whose experience follows here ; and it may stand as
that of many who have attempted the same thing, and failed.

There was once a party of girls who read a certain fasci-
nating book about gymnastics and out-door exercise, known
as Dr. Blaikie's " How to get Strong," and who resolved to
get up a walking-club. Eight members were allowed. They
chose an even number as pleasanter, because pairing off
exactly. Twice a week, at two in the afternoon, the eight
met and sallied forth ; and for each excursion a leader was
chosen, who had arranged the route beforehand.

The season was autumn, when everybody longs to be in
the fields, or rustling through the dry woods ; and the eight
discovered all the best views, and all the wood-nooks where
ferns bleach in the green darkness, and all the hidden springs
where the brooks begin ; and they came home laden with

Yet the club lived only a month or two, when it was in-
terrupted by Christmas-gift work, and never resumed. Can
you guess why ? Remember, these girls were not, as you
might suppose, of the " fickle crewe," who take up one pur-
suit after another, only to tire of each after a short trial,
although a large and thriving family of such exist in the
land. They were healthy-minded Massachusetts girls, hon-
estly anxious to seek fresh life and knowledge from the great


store that Nature has hidden away in the fields and woods
and rocks. The result of their experiment discouraged them.
Perhaps they were too easily discouraged.

In the first place, none of them were accustomed to long
walks ; for, like most American girls, they had never culti-
vated the habit. The club began where it should have left
off (provided it left off at all), by taking long tramps of six
or eight miles, from which it returned tired almost to death,
although not one of them could have been brought to say so :
it is so humiliating to admit that we have undertaken more
than we can carry through.

Our poor little walking-club fixed the hour of starting too
soon after the mid-day dinner, and some of the members felt
pangs of indigestion which even the fresh air could not cure.

Their boots, which had seemed a perfect fit, shrunk unac-
countably after an hour's walking, and pinched their feet ;
which was bad enough. But one girl, whose little French
heels curled inward till they ended under her instep, fared
worse ; for, in jumping over a brook, she sprained her ankle,
and suffered for weeks with the pain.

She never rejoined the club, for her mother objected to
such violent exercise ; and I regret to say that she still wears
French heels on her boots. As if the question of boots
were never to be settled, the untidy girl next had an adven-
ture, although it should be added that adventures were very
common in her career. One layer of sole on the untidy girl's
boot, after being wet in a swampy place, split off all along
the toes, and flapped up and down as she walked. She stuck
it together with a gumdrop ; but, as you may imagine, the
remedy was not complete, and the remainder of the walk was
a failure. The untidy girl wore a flounced skirt, not very
stout, nor securely sewed ; and she seldom returned to town
without some lamentable tatters.


But hers was an example without followers ; for most of
the club wore plain skirts, which did not easily tear nor soil,
made sufficiently full to enable them to jump a ditch, or climb
a fence, if the necessity arose.

Little by little the girls lost enthusiasm, and felt less in-
clination for the inevitable effort required to take them
through the long tramp marked out. The result of over-
exertion had been, as it always is, a loss of muscular strength
rather than a gain ; and the girls found themselves at the
end no better walkers than they were when they started.

To make of your walking-club a lasting success, a few
practical resolves are necessary :

Wear broad-soled, low-heeled, stout boots, that fit easily,
but not too loosely, and your feet will not swell, nor your
back ache, after the exercise is over. Begin moderately, and
increase your number of miles gradually ; for muscles must
be trained by slow degrees to unaccustomed work. English
girls, as nearly every one knows, are good walkers, and think
nothing of a ten-mile stretch in a morning before lunch ; but
of course they have been trained to it from childhood. The
climate of England is more favorable to walking than ours,
more moist and equable. It is therefore necessary to warn
those who mean to emulate their British cousins, that they
must avoid overheating, the danger of sunstroke, and the
chill that strikes into the very marrow sometimes, while rest-
ing, after exertion, on the summit of a hill where the keen
breeze sweeps unchecked.

Unless girls are satisfied simply to be abroad in the fresh
air, they will want some object or employment in these per-
petual long walks ; and nothing will better keep their enjoy-
ment fresh than botanizing, geologizing, or the study of
entomology. The many treasures of the woodland ferns,
cones, lichens, bits of fungous growth may all be used to


beautify your homes ; and the process by which it may be
done is described in the following chapter.

Or if you have bottled up your animal spirits in a school-
room all the morning, until uncorking has become a neces-
sity, the lonely fields offer a clear space for a healthy

A walking-club grows naturally, like any healthy organiza-
tion, and, from short tramps about the neighborhood, expands
into longer excursions, even into walking-tours covering a
week's time, and more.

Where a prolonged trip is planned, each girl should put
what she needs for the journey in a shoulder-bag, which
means simply a small satchel hung by a long strap from
the shoulder. Carry nothing that is not essential, for even
a small weight borne constantly will grow irksome.

A tour of this kind is one of the pleasantest outings that
can be devised by a party of lively girls. In its slow prog-
ress the members of the club learn the country thoroughly ;
and, if they desire to make collections, there is plenty of
time. Powers of observation develop, which lend an inter-
est to the lowliest object, and will fill with events the least
adventurous day. Passers-by along the road look kindly
upon the little party ; and at the farmhouses the women are
glad to offer draughts of foamy milk, listening with wonder
and amusement to the history of the walking-club, which
will long be repeated by the firesides of the neighborhood.

The nights may be spent in different towns on the route,
in which case a careful calculation is necessary, making sure
that the distance allowed for each day is not too much, and
leaves a margin for possible accidents.

More liberty is permitted where the party arranges to
camp out, and starts supplied with food, blankets, and the
other essentials for camping. In this case the club may call


a halt wruen it pleases ; the only requisites for a camp being
solitude, kindling-wood, and a neighboring spring.

It is best that in camping out the club should be provided
with a parent or an older brother, both for the help of a
strong arm in struggling with natural difficulties, and in
order that anxious friends may be re-assured. But that it is
possible for girls to go alone, without danger or annoyance,
has been proved by more than one pioneering party, nota-
bly that of the girls who " did " the North-Carolina moun-
tains last summer (1882).




IT is so well understood that health and happiness depend
on bodily vigor, that no girl of the present age can afford
to be ignorant of the value of gymnastics. Our maiden can,
either alone or with one or more friends, arrange a course
of games and exercises which will send the currents of life
tingling joyously through her veins, bring a sparkle to her
eye, and a glow to her whole being, such as can come only
through the easy play of every organ and muscle. She will
understand, also, why the fragility of the past is no longer
recognized as a mark of refinement and beauty.

In order to practise gymnastic exercises properly, the
amateur will use a dress with a French waist, worn without
a corset, and the belt two inches longer than the waist-
measure when the lungs are fully expanded. The armholes
are to be large and easy ; the skirts suspended from the
shoulders, and not quite reaching the ankles ; and every
part of the clothing fitted so free that there is absolutely
no restraint on any portion of the person. Equipped in this
way, gymnastics will be greatly enjoyed during those winter
storms when open-air exercise is impossible.

One of the best games invented by Dr. Dio Lewis, who
has done so much to make these exercises popular, is the
throwing of bean-bags. These are made out of strong bed
ticking, eight inches square, filled about two-thirds full of
well-washed beaws. The gymnasts arrange themselves in two


rows, face to face, and six feet or more apart. While count-
ing in unison i, 2, 3, 4, or with some one playing a simple,
strongly marked air on the piano, at a given signal all
" throw and catch," each with her opposite neighbor; the
bag thrown, not tossed, from a position on a level with the
chin. The movements may be gradually quickened, and a
friendly contest maintained by each couple trying to outdo
the others in number of throws. As a variation, throw the
bag, with arms stretched at full length above the head, or
from behind the neck; all giving grand exercise to the
muscles of the upper portion of the body, and developing
those of the chest. Learning to throw and catch with the
left hand is an amusing feat ; also forming a circle, and each
player throwing the bag to her neighbor on the right with
the hand on that side, at the same time catching that thrown
by the player with that on the left. Any number of inter-
esting games can be devised by our ingenious youths.

Exercises with wands, rings, dumb-bells, and Indian-clubs,
are almost numberless. In most of these, the floor needs to
be marked, if carpetless, with a small blotch of paint ; if
carpeted, by some white cloth sewn to measured distances
(which are to be four feet and a half either way), or by cer
tain figures on the carpet itself. In using rings these are
ignored, since the toes of the players are to touch ; but in
cases where exactness is required, the heels should be plant-
ed on either side this spot so marked.

Rings, about five inches across, are used by two persons,
each clasping the same pair by both hands, and " see-sawing,"
by thrusting one hand out horizontally to the full length of
the arm while drawing the other forward to the chest, with
the feet moving backward and forward in the same manner.
To vary this movement, swing the arms, joined by the rings,
hand-clasped as before, alternately up and down, or side-


ways, meanwhile stamping out firmly with each foot, corre
spending in movement with the arm above, with the heels
touching when drawn to the mark on the floor. Too many
movements to be described can be improvised, exhilarating
in proportion to the interest and spirit of the gymnasts and
the music with which they keep time. These must not be
languid and lagging, or the grace and value of the sport is

Wands, or straight, smooth sticks, four feet long and an
inch in diameter, are useful to cultivate flexibility of the
joints of the arm and shoulder, and to give symmetry to
the upper portion of the body. The veteran gymnast, Dr.
Lewis, who introduced the wand, used it in no less than
sixty-eight different movements, none of them severe for the
most delicate person. One of the best is to grasp it with
extended hands, and carry it back and forth over the head,
changing this to diagonal motions over either shoulder. Or
each couple, by seizing the extremities of two wands, can
invent a long series of exercises, each terminating by march-
ing while holding the wand in positions that are changed
according to the step.

Dumb-bells made of wood, and very light, are used in
various ways. Sometimes the girl, standing perfectly up-
right, extends her arms horizontally, with palms of the hands
outward. At the next bar of music she raises them straight
over her head, back to the first position, then drops them
to her side. Or she raises them at right angles with the
body, then up and down. The beauty of all these move-
ments consists in the perfect accord of the players, and the
zest with which they enter into the sport.

A thick cord of strong india-rubber, with wood handles
to stretch over the back and head, is a tonic to the muscles,
and increases the strength of the arms. A ring fastened by


a strong rope to a beam in the ceiling is often used by the
amateur to draw up the body by the hands. None of these
games should be carried to extremes, and so need not be
exhausting. They lose their value when they cease to be
amusements ; though they are really productive of health, a?
of entertainment, when undertaken with zest and discretion




SEWING as it is generally learned is always a great bug-
bear to a child, who is often made to sew an hour or more
on a dreary " over-and-over " patchwork-square. The sew-
ing-schools in our great cities have come to be much more
cheerful places than the room at home where tired and fret-
ful little bodies knot their thread, and grow crosser and
crosser with every stitch. In the sewing-school there are
songs that describe all the things that must be done, from a
hem or a fell to a patch, and a set of questions to which an-
swers are made in concert ; Mrs. Louise J. Kirkwood's little
sewing-primer giving them all, with many hints that mothers
or older sisters would do well to copy. Any little girl must
be patient, and willing to learn ; but very soon she will take
real pleasure in her work, above all when it comes to Christ-
mas or birthday gifts, or to doll's dress-making. Here are
some hints for the teacher.

If a child does not succeed satisfactorily at first with an
over-and-over seam, do not insist upon keeping her at it
until she is exact. She will have to sew upon many a patch,
perhaps, before she can make the stitches small, even, and


close. But try her with a hem or a back-stitch : she will be
growing used to handling the needle ; and, after one or two
trials of this sort, she will go back to the over-and-over
seam with fresh interest.

STRAIGHT LINES. Draw a line with a lead-pencil on the
strip of muslin which has been hemmed, and, with the needle
threaded with red cotton, show her how to stitch along the
line. The red cotton will be a novelty, and the pencil-mark
a new feature : she will be very likely to follow it to the end
with real pleasure.

OUTLINE PICTURES. Draw some straight lines in the
form of a house or a barn, make the outlines of a crooked
tree by the doorway, make a chicken with two or three flow-
ing feathers in its tail, make a man with a rake in his hand,
above all things make an old lady with a high cap on and a
cane in her hand, and you will never have trouble to keep
the little ones busy.

They will very cheerfully hem round a square in the most
painstaking manner, they will even struggle patiently with a
fell seam across it, if at the end you will but promise to draw
a dear old grandmother with a cap and cane, that they may

Then, too, you may write the child's name and age in a
fair, clear hand : you may add a motto, or some short line.

Get her to hem in a neat patch in a piece of cloth : she
will be proud to stitch her initials on it. Any thing of such
personal interest she will work at very gladly, and will all
the while be growing more and more skilful with her needle,
and captivated with its possibilities ; thus travelling, if not a
royal road to knowledge, at least a very pleasant one.

A child who has learned all the forms of plain sewing, and
wants to do nice work for her dolls, ought to have good
sharp scissors, a low table or little lap-board for cutting,


plenty of pins for pinning patterns to material, and a well
stocked work-basket, all on condition that everything is
kept in order in its place. The chair must be low, so that
the feet rest comfortably on the floor ; and hands and nails
must be clean, so that the thread need not be blackened. In
plain sewing, the stitches used are overhanding, hemming,
running, back-stitching or stitching, gathering, overcasting,
buttonhole, herringbone, feather-stitch, and darning.

Work should always be carefully basted ; as, if this is not
done, the sewing will pucker it, and probably it will have to
be ripped out. In the sewing-primer already mentioned, the
questions and answers include a careful description of every
stitch, cuts of which are given here.


A doll is a nice present for any child, but is worth far
more if prettily dressed, and, above all, not only with clothes
that can be taken off easily, but with plenty of them ; so that
dolly can have her own little washing and ironing, and her
bureau-drawers or trunk in beautiful order. Nightgowns
are often forgotten, and the poor dolls obliged to sleep in
their clothes. We begin, then, with the nightgown ; the
little diagrams given here being hints for the shape. Pat-
terns for doll's clothes are sold now in several sizes by
the pattern manufacturers, and can be had of the Domestic
Sewing-Machine Company, and several fashion magazines,
"Harper's Bazaar," and others.

NIGHTGOWN. Get some fine cotton cloth to commence
with, Lonsdale cambric being the best. Always use fine
stuff of every sort ; for, the dolls being so small, the clothes
sit very badly if made of thick material. Cut out the front
and back, as at Nos. I and 2 ; then the shoulder-piece, No. 3 ;
then run the front and back together under the arm, gather-





Showing the seam opened, and on the right side.


Showing the stitches on the right side of hem, Showing running-stitches, with the needle in
with the needle in position.

A fell seam, showing the first line of sewing finished, the edges turned under, and partly hemm



Showing the needle in position.



Showing gathering stitches, with the thread drawn,
and the needle in position.




r\ r\ r\ r\ r\

l 1 1 II II II II





ing the back into the shoulder-pieces ; then join them over
the shoulder ; then put on them a small, narrow band,
slightly gathering the fronts into it, putting the pieces at the
back in plain ; and then the sleeves, No. 4. The trimming
is, of course, according to fancy. Some insertion up the
front, with very narrow ruffles up each side, looks very
nicely, also tatting or crochet: indeed, any thing of the



sort. But it certainly looks better trimmed. A great im-
provement to the nightgown is to cut the fronts too broad


across for the doll, and run narrow tucks down to the waist ;
but this is, of course, more difficult, as the tucks want to
be run very evenly.

CHEMISE. A doll's chemise is a very easy thing to make.
Cut out in fine cotton or cambric two pieces in the shape of
Fig. 67 ; run them neatly together, and down the sides, and
over the shoulders ; then cut the front open a little way
down. Hem the neck and sleeves all round with a very
narrow hem, and make a broad one round the bottom of the
chemise. If trimming is required, a little lace round the
neck and sleeves makes a pretty finish.






DRAWERS. Next the drawers. Cut out two legs similar
to the pattern given. Run them up ; then join the legs to
gether just at the top in front, only running them a very
short way down ; then make a very narrow hem round ' each
leg, and a nice broad one at the bottom. Gather them into
a band, putting a button or strings to it. A little lace-
edging round the legs, or two or three narrow tucks, look
very nicely.

WAIST FOR THE PETTICOAT.' A flannel petticoat is, of
course, a very easy thing to make. A piece of fine white or
red flannel herring-boned round the bottom, and gathered
into a band at the waist, with buttons or strings, is required.
For most of the underclothes I should recommend very
small pearl buttons, strings are so untidy. The white or
upper petticoat should be made of white cambric or twill,


rather full, with a broad hem at the bottom ; and a good
deep tuck makes the frock stand out well. The waist can
be made in two ways, either off the skirt, or on ; but it is
decidedly the best to sew it on. Cut it in three pieces,
as in Fig. 69 ; join them together under the arm ; make a
hem at the top of each of the pieces and the bottom ; then
sew the skirt (which must be gathered) on it, and run draw-
ing-strings in it.

Now that we have finished the under-linen, we must begin
about the dresses. Never make them of a thick stuff, and
always be sure to choose a small pattern, or, better still, no



pattern at all. Unless the doll is very large, it is always
best to make a low-necked waist, as it is so difficult to make
the neck set well.


WAIST FOR DRESS. The skirt is, of course, as easy as
possible to make, simply to run the seams, and make a
broad hem. A low-necked waist should be made in this
way : a long, narrow piece, with a place cut out for the
sleeves (see Fig. 70) ; hem up the backs ; then cut out the
sleeves, as in No. 2 ; run the seams of the sleeves, and then
sew them into the armholes, pla-
cing the seam of the sleeve even
with that of the body ; gather
the other end of the sleeve into
a little narrow band ; gather the
body at the top and the bottom
into narrow bands. Some white

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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 15 of 28)