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This article was published in 1911

Are you darning some filet squares?

This form of fancy work has had periodic revivals since Catherine de Medici kept her two coffers, one filled with 300 net squares, the other containing several hundred other designs.

Filet lace never goes out for household decoration, and just now it is seen for dress.  Its chief use, however, is for table appointments, border for curtains, or bureau scarfs, pillow covers, bedspreads, window or vestibule door blinds, and insertion in various widths.

If you are ambitious you will start at one on a filet bedspread, as they are smart, and costly to buy. The beginner should reserve this until a few squares have been darned for pin cushion tops or book covers.

The handsomest filet has the net mesh hand made. This is simple work, but rather tedious, and most American women buy the net background, often the fine machine-made kind if cost must be counted.

Those who want to be thorough should indulge in a bood on netting and practice hard before attempting the big pieces. The filet mesh is the simplest of all lace meshes, as only the open squares are used without fancy stitches, all ornamentation of the lace being supplied by darning.

Most fancywork departments have good teachers in filet work, and it pays to take a few lessons; yet with a good book of instructions a girl used to fine needlework can manage nicely.

If the machine net is used the background must be cut large enough to remove one bar of the net, turn back the outstanding strands along the next bar and buttonhole closely over it. This gives a good edge. The handmade netting being prepared the right size with an edge, this preliminary is not necessary.

The net is then basted into a square, filet frame so as to be firm, but not taut as a drumhead. Darning can be done in the hand, but is neater and more expeditious in a frame. Long pieces are best worked in embroidery hoops of proper size to carry a completed portion of the design.

In doing a long piece of work roll the material neatly at each end, using blue paper between to keep the net clean and white.

 Materials needed for filet work are not many. The machine-made net comes in various widths and fineness and is best bought in an art needlework department if one is something of a novice. The saleswoman will advise the right net and threads for working a given design.

If the netting is done, ask for a special filet linen thread. The darning is done also in linen, though sometimes the mercerized cottons are used. A thread about three times as thick as that used for darning is used to outline.

Be cautious not to outline too much or too heavily, as the delicacy of the flat work may be lost. Much modern work is not outlined, though this finish is seen in much of the old work copied.

The filling stitches of filet are of two kinds, cloth stitch and the closer darning which gives the effect of shading. In the former the threads run in two directions as in weaving, while the darned portions are not crossed.

In the cloth stitch usually no more than two threads crossed by two others are used in a single square, though occasionally with a corse meshed net four are used each way.

 In darning, as many threads are used as will fill to a solid surface. There  is nothing to stitch but bringing the needle alternately over and under each strand of the net horizontally with the design. There is no turning of corners or crossing as in the cloth stitch.

A s filet work is alike on both sides, there must be no knots. The only one is a reef knot at the start, which is in the lower right hand corner, the stitches from right to left taking up alternate bars as far as the pattern demands.

When a new thread is needed join the fresh needleful on the old one within an inch of the finished thread, and continue the work.

In the cloth stitch it is important to turn corners so the thread will not move along the bar in washing or stretching. Use three interstices of the net that the thread does not slip; over the first, then under the next bar and over the bar where the darning recommences. It is attention to correct turning which makes fine filet lace.

When the pattern has beeen darned in one way, using two threads to a given square, cross it with two threads, taking up every alternate thread, whether net or darning.

Good designs for filet work can be bought, or the skillful needlewoman delights in copying old designs. Study your pattern well before starting, to see where the crossing can be done with least retracing of steps. Each design needs a different treatment, but skill is soon acquired.

Filet designs are conventionalized flowers and fruit, walls of Troy, and quaint representations of animals and human figules. Favorite French designs are knights on horseback, huntsmen blowing horns, Maltese crosses and stags, eagies, unicorns, monkeys, and various heraldic figures.

The filet squares when finished are often combined with fine linen, hand embroidered. Broderie anglaise is much used, also Hedebo embroidery, or any form of fine white linen work.

The squares can be arranged in any way by regulating the connecting strips of linen. In elaborate pieces, various sized squares are used. Sometimes each square has a different design, and the quaint old spreads and quilts would portray a vivid romance. Animals and flowers or fruit designs should be combined in one piece.

Sometimes the squares are joined by insertion of another type of lace or with a finer conventionalized insertion fo filet, but the linen needlework is most effective and popular.

 Edgings and insertions in filet make fascinating work, and are useful for many purposes. The edging has the edge buttonholed in scallops or Vandyke points. When the lace is finished this edge is cut out by severing the bars in the center between each buttonhole stitch. 

Sometimes color is introduced in the darning or occasionally white designs are worked on nets of delicate tints or deep ecru. For elaborate work it is better to use all white.

Source -- The New York Times; Published August 20, 1911.  This text is Copyrighted by The New York Times.

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