All About Sabrina Work

Sabrina Work, which is a variety of Appliqué, first came into notice in the 1870’s. Crewel Work was much more popular at the time and continued to be for some time. However, around 1885 Sabrina work again became popular.

This type of work is capable of much artistic effect. It consists of cutting out either from colored velvets, velveteen, satin, silk, cloth, serge, or washing materials, whole or single petals of flowers, leaves, or conventionalized flower patterns, and affixing these pieces on to colored cloths or white linen backgrounds with wide apart Buttonhole Stitches. Parts of the design that are too small to allow being cut out are worked with Chain or Crewel Stitch upon the material used as the background.

Victorian Sabrina Work
Click on picture to see more detail.

The work is used for quilts, table, mantel, and curtain borders; also for cushions and slippers, but looks better upon the first-mentioned large articles than upon the small ones. The whole beauty of the work depends upon the selection of suitable patterns and appropriate colors, the execution being of the simplest description; but with a judicious use of harmonies and slight contrasts together, good effects can he obtained without much labor.

Gold colored backgrounds, with brown and yellow flowers and russet and green leaves; soft colored backgrounds, with designs in the same color, but of several shades all darker than the background; blues shading to yellow, upon dark green backgrounds; pale blue background, with creamy white and pink designs; deep blue twill, with designs in shades of red cloth; dark gray oatmeal background, with either blue or red twill designs, would all be suitable combinations.

To work: Select an outline crewel design composed of small leaves, fruit, or flowers, with tendrils, and if it is an ironing design and to be worked upon cloth, iron it off upon the material, or trace it out upon linen or oatmeal cloth, should it be required to wash. Cut out the various shapes of the pattern in cardboard and lay these pieces down upon the colors that are to form the design. Cut these pieces out very carefully with sharp scissors, as upon their accuracy the neatness of the work depends.

Prepare a number of pieces, and though retaining the color originally assigned to each, vary the shade of that color where such a change would give more diversity to the design. For the leaves choose dark yellow greens in preference to very light, or blue green shades, but make them as varied in tint as possible. TACK the pieces down upon the foundation in their places, being guided by the traced design, and then BUTTONHOLE round each piece with wide apart stitches, and with washing silks or ingrain cotton, and in the color that matches the piece so secured.

In Sabrina Work, work the stems and connecting stalks or tendrils of the design with the same silks, and in CHAIN STITCH. Ornament the centers of the flowers with FRENCH KNOTS or with SATIN STITCH.

When working a table border or quilt, it is tedious to cut out each flower and leaf separately, and many designswill allow the punches used by artificial flower makers to be employed instead of scissors, for preparing the pieces.

These punches are bought of the required shape, and are used as follows: Obtain a piece of lead, and upon it lay the material in four or six layers, according to its thickness. Hold the punch in the left hand over the material, strike it sharply down with a wooden mallet, and it will cut through the folds with the blow.

The Sabrina work design shown above is intended as a mantelpiece or curtain border, and is a conventional flower pattern taken from an Italian design of the seventeenth century. It can be worked either with satin or velvet, upon cloth or satin sheeting, or with cloth upon gray oatmeal cloth. It is shown worked out in silk upon cloth. The colors should be varied according to the materials used, the ones described being only a guide. Select a medium shade art blue cloth as foundation, cut out the lighter scrolls in a soft cinnamon shade of red silk, the darker scrolls in a deep rich red silk, the round flowers in light yellow pink silk; make the carnation of a deep shade of the same yellow pink, the leaves close to it in dark olive green, and the three balls in the same color as the carnation.

Work the connecting stems in CHAIN STITCH and the small rounds in SATIN STITCH, and surround each piece of silk with wide apart BUTTONHOLE lines of silk matching it in shade.

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