Helen Campbell.

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

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kerchief-cases, portfolios, and table-mats, that may be con-
structed of birch-bark.


There are two ways of using the bark ; but in all cases a
pasteboard shape, like the article to be made, must be first
cut out. This shape may be covered with a thin, smooth
piece of bark lined with silk, and the edges bound with bright
ribbon. Or the bark, of the exact shape to be covered, is
cut in strips, united at one end, and ribbon is woven across
the strips, and fastened neatly at either end. The paste-
board is then covered with the braided bark, lined with silk
to match the ribbon, and the edges bound as before. Bows
of ribbon finish the dainty present.


Little girls who can work patiently may make a very pretty
basket out of straw braided with ribbon, if mamma will give
a little help. Select a number of smooth, perfect straws.
Cut a half-circle of pasteboard, nine inches long, and make a
row of small holes around the edge, half an inch apart. Cut
a strip of the pasteboard a little less than half an inch wide
and nine inches long, and make small holes in it one inch
apart. Cut a second strip sixteen inches long, and treat it
in the same way Now take a straw twelve inches long, and
fit one end into the middle hole of the short strip of paste-
board, and the other end into the middle hole of the half-
circle's straight edge, letting the straw project about two
inches below. The half-circle forms the bottom of the bas-
ket, and you are beginning to make the back, which is flat,
and hangs against the wall. On either side of the middle
straw insert a straw three-quarters of an inch shorter ; and
so proceed until all the holes are filled, and the pointed back
is complete. The holes must be small enough to keep the
straws in place without other fastening.

The rounded front of the basket is made by fitting straws
in the same way into the longer strip of pasteboard, and the


rounding edge of the half-circle ; all the straws being six
inches in length. Fasten the two ends of the long strip
firmly to the ends of the short strip. Sew blue chenille over
the pasteboard edges wherever they show, and weave blue
ribbon in and out of the straws that make the basket-front.
Run ribbon once across the back, following the outline of
the point, and an inch from the edge. Make a bow in the
middle. Girls of fourteen or fifteen, who have a brother with
a jack-knife to help them, might make beautiful and more
durable baskets in the same way, by using strips of fine bam-
boo, or cane (which can be obtained at a Japanese store), in
place of the straw.


The making of screens and fans in feathers is both
pleasant and ornamental work.

To make a screen, begin as
follows : mould a piece of wire
into the shape of a heart, and
cover this, by means of a needle


and thread, with dark-colored gauze or tarlatan. Round the
edge of this frame fasten a row of peacock's feathers with


gum. A very little gum put under the quills, and left to
dry with a weight on them, will make them easily adhere.
Place a second row of feathers, so that the eyes of them
come just between those of the first row. Next make
another frame in the same manner as before, but let the
edge of it only extend as far as the quills of the second row
of feathers. Border this with the side fringe-feathers of the
peacock's tail, and then dispose
of some red ones at the top, or
any kind fancy may dictate or
you possess, finishing off with
a bunch of gray fluff feathers,
or a knot of crimson ribbon 1
and a gilt handle. For the



back, cut a piece of cardboard the exact shape and size of
the foundation of the screen, cover it with crimson silk, and
gum on behind. Another, even prettier, screen is made as
follows, both sides alike :

Prepare a frame (circular in shape) as before. Edge it
thickly all round, by means of a needle and thread, with the
fringe-feathers of the peacock's tail. Then put alternately,


in the six spaces between the points of the star which is to
be cut for the centre, rows of the small brown, gold, and
green feathers from the neck and back of the bird. Cut out
a star in cardboard ; edge it on each side with a small red
feather, and cover the whole of the rest (by means of gum),
one close over the other, with the bright-blue feathers from
the peacock's breast. Cut out a small circle in cardboard,
which edge with a row of canary-bird or any dyed yellow
feathers, letting the centre be scarlet. On this a gold mon-
ogram in repousse work may be placed. A gilt handle, and
knot of ribbon, complete so elegant a fan, that one made for
a wedding-present was .supposed to be the finest Brazilian

Mats made of cloth or straw are very pretty with a border
of feathers. These may also be utilized for trimmings of
hats, muffs, or jackets, particularly pheasant's and pea-fowl's.
Trimmings are made by sewing the feathers on in rows of
three and two, or three and four, one over the other, on a
narrow ribbon of the same color.


The materials needed for spatter-work are bristol-board,
India-ink, a fine-toothed comb, toothbrush having long firm
bristles, some fine pins, a tack-hammer, and a smooth board
on which to fasten your paper.

An artistic design is the chief requisite for successful
work ; and Nature will supply you with beautiful models in
her tiniest leaves and ferns and mosses, with quaint shapes
of cup and hood. Gather them carefully, and press them,
and, when your paper is firmly fastened to the board, arrange
a graceful bunch of leaves and sprays, with, if you choose, a
paper pattern of cross or basket around which to group
them. But the simplest arrangement is always best. Pin


each leaf carefully in its place with small pins, lest the ink
should spatter under it. Rub the India-ink with water in a
saucer to the thickness of cream. Colored ink may be used
instead, if you prefer ; or any water-color paint may be pre-
pared in the same way as India-ink, except that it should be
thinner. Dip the toothbrush lightly in the ink, and, by rub-
bing it gently over the comb, send a fine spray of ink upon
the paper, repeating the process until the tint is deep enough.
The lower part of the work may be shaded more deeply, to
give perspective ; but, as the ink is much darker when dry,
be careful not to make the tint too deep. Now carefully
remove the pattern, and a white design appears, which must
be deftly touched up with a fine camel's-hair brush dipped
in the ink. Put in the veins of the leaves, and shade those
parts of the design which would naturally be in shadow.

When all is done, and the ink is perfectly dry, the paper
should be pressed on the wrong side with a warm iron, not a
hot one.

The paragraph on birch-bark suggests a number of pretty
gifts, which can all be made equally well out of spattered
bristol-board, and many more things, like tidies, pincushions,
and lamp-shades. Aprons, too, can be made of fine Swiss
muslin decorated with spatter-work. White holly-wood is
sometimes carved into paper-knives, work-boxes, glove-cases,
and book-covers, and decorated with spatter-work; burnt-
umber being used instead of ink.


There is a simpler way of obtaining pictures, having
much the same effect as spatter-work. At any large artist's
materials store can be purchased a sensitive-paper, which
changes color when exposed to the light. A large roll of
this photographic paper costs only fifty cents. Any pretty


design may be placed upon a square of the paper, and ex-
posed to the sunlight for a few moments, when, on removing
the pattern, the tint beneath will be found much darker than
the prevailing tint of the paper. Pour water abundantly
over the whole, and the design will become white, while,
wonderful to say, the background changes to dark blue.
Pictures obtained in this way may be turned to use in the
manner described for spatter-work.


As books are of many different sizes, it is clear that one
cover will not fit them all ; but you may guess, perhaps, whaf
size would be most useful to the friend for whom you wist
to make it. A Bible-cover is a lovely gift to make. If
should be cut from chamois-leather, exactly the size of the
open Bible, with a narrow piece sewed on at each end to
fold under. Pink the edges all round. Sew the flaps very
firmly and neatly on the wrong side of the cover, leaving the
points of the cover to project, and form an edge. A mono-
gram, or any appropriate motto, may be embroidered on the

Another useful gift is a dictionary-cover, made in the
same way ; or it may be cut out of brown linen, and bound
around the edges with dark-brown braid.


These are useful gifts for a friend who travels often
Clothing packed away in trunks is apt to contract a smell
of leather ; and a large case of silk or muslin, scented with
delicate powder, and made to fit the top of the trunk, will
be sure to be appreciated.



Another gift for travellers is a cabin-bag, which is made
like a shoe-bag, and can be tacked against the wall of the
state-room, within reach of berth or sofa.

Cut a large square of stout linen or cretonne. Stitch two
rows of pockets upon it, and make a small pincushion to be
hung at the middle and top. Bind the edges with braid, and
make loops by which to hang it up.

This useful bag will take the place of a bureau in the
crowded space of a state-room.


Cut out an apron by any ordinary pattern, but about ten
inches longer. This extra length is turned up from the
bottom, and divided off, by stitching, into three or four deep,
narrow pockets, which will hold knitting, scraps of work, or

Very dainty ones are made of pongee or fine linen, with a
design stamped upon the space turned up for pockets, and
embroidered in stem-stitch. A bunch of flowers with two
or three bees fluttering over them, and along the hem the

" How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,"

make a design which has become very popular. These busy-
bee aprons are finished off with pretty bows of ribbon.


Many pretty things, of which the toothbrush-rack is one,
can be made from spruce-twigs. Cut two straight spruce-
twigs having little branches which grow upward, and try


to get them as nearly alike as possible. Trim the little
branches until they are two inches long.

Now cut two more twigs the same length, but cut off all
the branches, without entirely smoothing the bark, which is
prettier if left rough. Place the twigs first cut about six
inches apart, and lay the second pair across them at top and
bottom, making a square frame ; fasten the corners firmly
with fine wire. Two more twigs, crossed diagonally from
one corner to another, help to strengthen the frame, which
is hung up by a wire or ribbon. Toothbrushes are placed
across the small branches, which, as you see, should be as
nearly parallel as possible.


When the wind blows on a cold winter's night, and the
window rattles, and lets in the cold air, a sand-bag will help
to keep it out, and be a very useful present. It is made by
filling with sand a long, narrow bag, four inches wide, and
just as long as the window-sash is wide. Cover the cotton
case with one of bright-scarlet flannel. Lay the sand-bag
over the crack between the upper and lower sash.


These are meant to hold shoes in travelling, and to take
the place of wrapping-paper. As each case holds but one
pair of shoes, it is well to make two of them, or more, as a
present. Cut out of brown linen a case or bag which will
easily hold a pair of shoes. Bind the edges with braid, and
fasten strings about the mouth to tie it with ; or make the
end long enough to fold over, shaping it like an envelope,
and fastening it with a button and buttonhole.



One of the j oiliest of games for a rainy day is the bean-
bag game; and a set of bean-bags is, therefore, a beautiful
present to make for friends or brothers. Make four square
bags out of bed-ticking (they should be about six inches
square) ; sew them very stoutly, and fill them, not too full,
with common beans. The cases are then covered with bright
flannel, and an initial may be worked in each.


Whoever loves the spicy odor of hemlock-woods will take
delight in this pillow, which brings the fragrance wherever
it comes. Gather a quantity of fine hemlock-needles from
the young shoots of the tree, and, when dry, fill with them a
large, square ticking, which must be covered with soft wool
or silken stuff, which may be left plain, or embroidered, to
suit the taste of the giver.


A large, sweet-smelling scent-bag is a delightful thing to
lay among the fresh linen. It may be made with sachet-
powder, like the scent-case for trunks ; but our grandmothers
used the old-fashioned lavender-blossom. And another de-
licious scent is that of the sweet-clover, which grows wild in
many parts of the country. Dried sweet-grass, such as the
Indians weave into baskets, may be attainable for some.


To make something especially pretty out of an ordinary
crib-blanket, select one with blue stripes and a blue silk
binding. Between stripes and binding baste a strip of can-
vas, and with blue saddler's silk doubled work in cross-stitch


a motto, so arranged as to be read when the blanket is folded
back. Here is a pretty English motto :

"Shut little eyes, and shut in the blue :
Sleep, little baby, God loves you."

And here are two very short ones in German, Schlafe wohl
(Sleep well), and Gut Nacht (Grood-night). Another pretty
German verse is this, " Nun gute ruh, die Augen zu" (Now
go to sleep, and shut your eyes).


A pair of light summer blankets may be made very pretty
by buttonholing them loosely across the top and bottom, and
working three large initials in the middle of the top end.


These are used to fasten the napkin around a child's neck,
and consist simply of a canvas strip, an inch wide and twelve
inches long, worked in cross-stitch, and attached at each end
to the metal clasps which are used for children's stockings.


A set of tea-napkins with an initial letter finely worked
makes a beautiful gift. The letter should be stamped in one
corner of the doyly; and, before embroidering, the pattern
is run and " stuffed " with heavy working-cotton, which makes
the work far richer. Handsome towels are embellished with
the initials of the person to whom they are to be given
worked at one end in the space made by folding the towel
twice. The letters should be very large. Towels are now
sold with a canvas strip woven across each end, on which
any pretty pattern may be embroidered ; the Holbein-stitch,
which is alike on both sides, being the best to use.



Probably most of the girls who read this book know what
shawl-bags are like, and also know their usefulness. They
are not only capital things to protect shawls from dust and
cinders in travelling, but may be used as another hand-bag,
to carry small articles in case of need. Stout brown Hol-
land is the best material. Cut two round end-pieces eight
inches across, and a piece half a yard wide by twenty-four
inches long. Sew the sides of the piece around the two end-
pieces, making a cylinder with a long slit, which is to be the
mouth of the bag. Face the edges of the slit, and bind them
and the seams at the ends with worsted braid. Close the
opening with five buttons and buttonholes, and sew on a
stout strip of doubled linen by way of handle, like that of
a shawl-strap. The bag may be ornamented on one side with
the initials of its owner.

Cut out six or eight leaves (for which a beech-leaf makes
a good pattern) of black cloth or velvet. Cut the edges in
points, like the natural leaf, and sew them around a circle of
black cloth. Knit and ravel out again a quantity of yellow
worsted or silk floss, and imitate with it the form of a bird's
nest in the middle of the black leaves. For the bird sitting
on its nest, a white canton-flannel shape may be devised,
with black bead eyes, and feathers imitated in water-color
paint ; but one of the little Japanese birds sold in the shops
for fifteen or twenty-five cents will answer the purpose.
Fasten plain circles of cloth below, for wiping the pens.


The material of this box may be very stiff cardboard ; but


a better way is to get a tinman to cut for you six strips
of tin, of the dimensions given below, punched with rows of
holes an inch and a half apart. If cardboard is used, you
can make the holes yourself, measuring them with a rule.
The strips are to be cut as follows :

Two strips one foot long and five inches wide, two strips
one foot long and three inches wide, and two strips five
inches long by three inches wide. These make respectively
the top and bottom, the sides and the ends, of the box.
Each piece is to be lined with cotton-wadding scented with
sachet-powder, over which is placed the silk or satin lining
you have selected. This soft lining is then quilted down by
putting the needle through each of the holes in turn, taking-
long stitches on the wrong side, and fine ones on the right
side. Tiny buttons sewed in each depression make a pretty
finish. Put the box together, and cover the outside with
satin, cloth, or plush, sewing a small silk cord around the
edges to finish them neatly. Square handkerchief-boxes may
be made in the same way.


Although this has not so attractive a sound, much pleas-
ure may be given and received by the little folks who can do
a bit of plain work. In many cases no gift could be so use-
ful as an apron, or nightgown, or petticoat neatly made, with
loving thoughts stitcned into the long seams and difficult
gathers. And, as the knowledge ought to be gained, let me
assure you that the pleasure and excitement of practising
on Christmas-gifts will help very much to make this neces-
sary branch of learning interesting.


Suppose you have gathered, from pure love of their beauty,


afl the bright sprays, and tiny ferns blanched white in the
shade, that you met with in your autumn rambles : you will
be glad to know in what way they may be preserved, and
used to delight other people as well as yourself. Take an
old wooden box, or shabby table, or lacquer-tray, or earthen
bowl or pitcher, and, whichever you select, paint in black, or
any color which will have a good effect, with oil-paint. When
dry, rub it smooth with sand-paper, and repeat the process
three times. Glue upon it your leaves and ferns, arranging
them gracefully, as they are sure to be in nature ; and, when
the glue has dried, apply a coat of isinglass, dissolved in
water, to the whole surface. Three coats of copal-varnish,
each added after the former has had time to dry, finishes the
work, and your old box or tray will have been transformed.


Even more beautiful and delicate effects may be produced
In fern-work. The pressed ferns should be perfect and lovely
in themselves, and of all shades, green, deep-brown, yellow,
and white. Suppose you have a small round table whose
top is to be decorated. It is first to be painted black, or very
dark brown, rubbed with pumice-stone when dry, and then
varnished. While the varnish is still wet, the ferns are to
be arranged upon it according to a carefully planned pattern.
This work requires great care and deftness. The ferns, once
laid on the varnish, must not be altered, or lifted by the hand ;
but the disarranged or projecting points may be pushed into
place with a long pin. When the design is arranged, varnish
again immediately, with light touches. Between these two
coats of varnish, the delicate ferns remain nearly indestructi-
ble, with almost the effect of a Florentine mosaic. Another
coat of varnish must be added when the second is wholly dry.
Earthen tiles and plaques may be treated in the same way,


and the result will be better than much amateur china paint-


Any girl who has a father or brother to help may make
this useful piece of furniture. A barrel is sawed into the
shape shown in the diagram of pill-box chair on p. 281, which
is that of a low chair with a rounded back ; and four blocks
are nailed inside to support a round of wood, which forms
the seat, and which, like the back and sides of the chair,
must be stuffed, cushioned, and covered with chintz or cre-
tonne. A deep ruffle of the same covers the barrel below
the seat. The hollow space inside, below the seat, may be
utilized by nailing all around the sides a shoe-bag with many
pockets ; and the chair may then receive the name of a shoe-


Wax or paraffine candles are used for this purpose. They
may be painted in water-color or oil, or with the powder used
for coloring wax flowers. Where this powder or water-color
paints are used, a little ox-gall is needed to give the paint
consistency. Bands of solid color, conventional patterns, or
sprays of flowers twining around the candle, may be chosen
for decoration. Gilding adds very much to the effect, and "is
bought, under the name of " gold paint," at any artist's-mate-
rial shop, for fifty cents a bottle.


Let me tell you of a merry way to serve up many of the
little dainties described in this chapter. Put them, each
wrapped in soft paper, all together in an enormous tin dish-
pan, and cover the top with a crust of yellow cartridge-paper,
ornamented with little twirls pinned in their places.

The pie must be cut beforehand into enough pieces to go


around ; but the carver may go through the motions of cut-
ting it, and then spoon out the contents upon the plates pro-
vided. Small articles which will not be injured by heat can
be wrapped in white paper, and baked in genuine little cakes,
when they furnish a delightful surprise to those who eat.


This is easily made, and very pretty when finished.

The stick is a long penholder, either plain or fancy, one
end of which is dipped into melted sealing-wax to form a
knob, and round which the ends of cloth are tightly sewed.
The wiper is formed of a number of narrow strips of cloth,
cut twice the length required, and doubled in half. The cloth


may be all black, or mixed with other colors, according to
taste. The cloth ends should be rather short, and very full,
so as to resemble the brooms used for yards.

A band of red cloth, or thin leather, worked with dots in
gold-colored silk, to imitate brass-headed nails, is fastened
round the cloth, and keeps it in shape.


The breakfast-table is much improved by these pretty and
useful additions. The crimson plush for the outside is cut
the shape and size needed for the style of teapot for which
the cosey is intended. They are generally made higher and


narrower than formerly. A bouquet of good artificial flowers
may be fastened on one side, the points of the leaves being
tacked invisibly to the plush to keep them in place.

On the opposite side, a monogram or crest, in fine varie-
gated cord or gold-thread, is worked. The lining should be
of silk, the same shade as the plush, and well wadded and
quilted. A very unique and beautiful edge is formed of
pheasant's feathers tacked on a narrow ribbon the color of
the plush.

It is better to choose a tint for the cosey that will harmo-
nize with the breakfast-service. The feathers would suit
almost any color. If this trimming is found to be too trou-
blesome, a good cord can be substituted. The top of the
cosey is ornamented with a small fancy gilt or ivory ring, by
which it can be lifted off without interfering with the feather

The egg-cosey is made of the colored plush, and sufficiently

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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 17 of 28)