Expect for a few state banquets, the days of crystal chandeliers and double damask table linen are long gone. But hemstitching, the basic stitch for the lovely openwork borders on those tablecloths is threading itself back into fashion.
Stitching dinner napkins is about as popular as darning socks. Instead, everyone wants to put their stitches where they will show - on a sofa pillow, a summer evening blouse, a table mat, a lampshade or a lacy vest.
You can hemstitch and do drawn work on any material with strong enough threads to pull out without breaking. Use fine linen, monk's cloth, Indian head cotton, homespun, skrim, linen with burlap weave or, of course, needlepoint canvas.
Drawn thread work on canvas is one of the newest and most attractive ways of using it. You can leave the borders open and back the whole design with a contrasting color that will show through, or you can fill them solidly with needleweaving. You can work brilliant colors reminiscent of peasant embroidery, or work in traditional beiges - the "natural" that are so popular nowadays.
When you draw threads out of any fabric, the material on either side of the border can move out of place, so you secure it with hemstitching, wrapping the long threads in bundles. Then you can weave under these bundles of threads, or twist them and knot them to amake lovely decorative borders.
If you don't want your border to go clear across, before you start drawing out any threads, work a row of buttonhole stitches with loops facing in toward the border at either end. Then cut the threads against these stitches and draw them out, leaving a border of vertical threads as in the diagram.
By drawing threads out of your background fabric, then decoractively weave them in again, you have expanded your needlework options. You can weave with wool, knot with cotton, twist or weave with colored narrow ribbons.
Besides, never again will you sit down to dinner at a white drawnwork tablecloth without fully appreciating what went into it.
Q: You recently mentioned companies that sell stamp collecting needlework kits. As a male needlepointer, I thought these might be interesting to add to Bicentennial mementos. Several of the local outlets disclaim any knowledge of such firms and I hope you can help.
A: Can't seem to locate the stamp kits (maybe some of our readers can help), but try choosing from the designs available at the post office; or looking in a stamp collector's shop. Then find a photostat service in your area. Give one dimension only for the final size you want, because the stamp will be enlarged proportionately.
If you plan to do this seriously, you can buy an opaque projector - not very expensive and a useful instrument. This small machine will project your picture on the wall. Then you can adjust the distance of the machine from the wall and accordingly vary your size. Simply attach tracing paper with masking tape to the wall, and trace your design on it in outline.