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“But to know
The Author of the following pages has been encouraged to hope, that, in placing them, after much deliberation, in the hands of a printer, she is tendering an important and acceptable, however humble, service to persons of her own sex, who, in any condition of life, are engaged, by duty, or inclination, in cutting out wearing apparel in a family, or for their poorer neighbours. She trusts, in particular, that Clergymen's Wives, Young Married Women, School-mistresses, and Ladies’ Maids may find, in the “Workwoman’s Guide,” a fast and serviceable friend.
The patterns, which comprise all the necessary parts of clothing in great variety, to suit both rich and poor, have been some years in collecting, and are given as the most generally approved shapes and sizes in present use. Economy and neatness of appearance have been equally consulted in choosing them, and all have been successfully tried. In selecting and arranging the Infant's wardrobe, the comfort of the little wearers and ease of dressing, have been accurately studied. Interested by the feelings of a Mother in this division of her book, the Author has worked at it with especial zeal and assiduity, and submits it with particular confidence.
To assist the unpractised in understanding the written descriptions, almost every pattern is likewise drawn twice (see Plates), so as not only to represent its appearance when cut out, but also when made up. The difficulty of describing irregular and complicated shapes has been obviated by enclosing each in a square, marked with a scale of nails; by which means, even sleeves, collars, capes, and bonnets can be cut out with unfailing precision.
In a charity school, for which the Author was much interested, and for the use of which,
both her collection of patterns was originally begun, and her drawings made, girls from ten to sixteen years of age were in the constant habit of cutting out correctly and easily, with no other guidance than the drawings. To sketch the pattern on a slate, and to cut it out first in paper, was all the facility afforded to, or needed by, beginners.
The Reader, as she advances, will see that this work is not confined to the simply cutting out and making up articles of dress, but likewise includes the important subjects of House Linen and Upholstery, and that the minor branches of knitting and strawplatting have their places. Directions which, it is trusted, will be found useful, respecting
various other points of domestic industry, are not omitted.
On the general plan of the work, and the motives which have induced the writer to venture it before the Public, she need not, perhaps, say more. A few words are near her
heart, which she does not resist the temptation of adding.
A woman, who in the upper classes of society, has taken her place at the head of a family, has undertaken a high and responsible situation; but one, in which, by daily attention to certain humble details, she can essentially serve the welfare of some who are
dear to her, and of many who are dependent on her.
The Author, as an Englishwoman, reflects with pride upon the number of her country women, whom the gifts of nature, and a brilliant or careful education enables to grace their place in society. She believes that very many of them are further qualified, as far as good will and natural intelligence can go, to discharge those humbler, but not less honourable, parts of their calling, to which she has alluded, but are deterred from applying to them (or much embarrassed if they do), from finding that, whilst they are proficients in many beautiful accomplishments, and not without cultivation in the more solid parts of information, they are yet mere novices in other unostentatious attainments, that have become indispensable to their domestic efficiency. The complete remedy for this inconvenience can only be found in making some further knowledge of domestic arts and economy a prominent part of the education of our daughters; home and school must both be called upon to contribute. Amongst the arts in question, the homely one of cutting out is entitled
to rank high, for subserviency to comfort and elegance, as well as to economy, whenever this is an object, and in what fortune can it wisely be neglected? It is one which may seem peculiarly fitted to be taught in schools, by the conveniency of the means for teaching, by its cleanliness, and, if the Author may be allowed to say so, by its intellectual character, since to cut out well, it is necessary to think, and indeed the art, continually depending upon exact measurements, proportions and even correct diagrams, or figures, must be considered as a sort of unassuming household mathematics. Dress, it seems, has of late been admitted by philosophical critics to the dignity of a fine art: it both requires
and cultivates taste, and the consideration of a pleasing effect and air in dress is first applied in the cutting out.
No one who has not been a frequent visitor in the homes of the poor, is aware of the extravagance and waste usual among women of a humble class, arising from their total ignorance in matters of cutting out and needle-work, nor how much instruction they want on those points, even to the making of a petticoat and a pinafore. The same ignorance and unskilfulness, and the same consequent waste of laborious and scanty earnings is common among our female household servants; who, by putting out their clothes to dress-makers, pay nearly half as much for the making up as for the materials. The direct saving of expense upon articles of dress, were they qualified to work for themselves, would, with all persons in these conditions of life, be an important annual item. But the indirect and further benefit would be of infinitely more account. The thrifty disposition, the regularity and neatness, the ideas of order and management, inspired by the conscious ability and successful exertion, in one leading branch of good housewifery, cannot be too highly prized or diligently cultivated; for the result is moral. The orderly house but reflects the orderly mind; the humble wife and mother, whose active indefatigable hand, silently executing her careful ingenious thought, improves the comforts, the visible respectability, and real condition of her husband and children, is mistress of a secret for blending her best and tenderest affections with the employment of every day: she contrives judiciously what she constantly and earnestly meditates, and finds no weariness in the labour to which strength continually flows from a deep fountain in her heart.
Personal investigation alone can satisfy those ladies who interest themselves in the welfare of the poor, how useful a kindness they would exercise in making efficient
systematic instruction, in these arts, an ordinary and important part of school business.
Could the Author hope that the little work, in which she has endeavoured to arrange the elements of cutting out progressively, would ever be admitted as a manual in the village school-room, a cherished wish of her heart would be gratified; in the mean time, she will be glad to think, that she may have saved some wives and mothers, entering upon their arduous vocations, a part of the inconveniences experienced by herself, although accounted a tolerable workwoman in the general acceptation of the term, when, on assuming the
former of these characters, she was compelled to rely on her own resources.
The Author must here acknowledge her obligations to that valuable little work “Cottage
Comforts;” also to the “Teacher's Assistant in Needlework” and “Knitting,” and a few others, for some useful suggestions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
ON BABY LINEN, with ScALEs For THE CLoTHEs of oldeR CHILDREN. Caps; Cockades; Rosettes; Infants'