WITH the social season in full swing the mode has declared itself quite definitely on the important subject of “What the Well Dressed Bridge Table Will Wear” for the bridge or mah jong party.
There is no longer any toleration of slip-shod equipment for the important business of entertaining one’s friends at either of these two popular pastimes. Definite standards of smartness have been established; as well serve the salad after the soup, at dinner, as provide a slippery table top for bridge, or poorly marked tiles for mah jong.
You treasure, perhaps, a lovely old table of rosewood, with a beautifully carved pedestal and a folding top in which the grain is remarkable fine. But if you would use it for bridge, you must be entirely cold blooded, and draw firmly over it a bridge cloth of approved type— unless, of course, yours is one of the many old tables which reserved their beautiful veneering, their fine flow of grain, for the outside, but put their hearts into the game by revealing tops of baize, when opened up.
THE usual folding bridge table, which folds up its feet and steals silently away when not busy fulfilling its destiny, is now in almost universal use. It is light in weight, easily stowed away, and just right in size and height.
But although its cover is of the practical baize, it no longer appears in polite society. The bridge cloth offers too good an opportunity for a smart accessory, and appears in a score of attractive forms. In size, it covers the table and allows a hangover of several inches all around. Weights or ties at the corners hold it steadily to its task.
MATERIALS for the bridge cover are satin (usually the heavy cottonbacked satin), the coarse-thread linens, (fine linen is taboo, because too slippery), sateen and factory cotton—a humble fabric that has recently been working its way into society in an arts-and-crafty sort of fashion, and quite justifies its recognition by its adaptable and attractive nature.
Black satin is undoubtedly the favorite amongst these materials. A touch of black is usually smart in any room; the serious player seems fond of black as a background for the cards, and it keeps its good appearance for a long time—three virtues that give considerable weight to its claims for precedence. A very handsome cover is made of the black satin, edged with gold galloon, from half-inch to inch or more wide, with a heavy gold tassel at each corner to weight it. Another effective cover (the middle one in our illustration showing three cloths), has a two-inch band of red at the edge, and the four suits done in outline stitch in the corners—a club, diamond, heart and spade. One of the several good corner treatments is shown in the pictured cloth —the corners being cut off and narrow tying ribbons added. Some people prefer to cut out a small square at each corner, so that the ties will draw it trimly together. It is possible to adjust the cover just as snugly, however, if the corners of the big square are left untouched, if the tying ribbons are placed just right; the corner just naturally disposes of itself when the ties are drawn tight. This uncut square is quite the easiest to make, of course.
THE dominant colors in her room are chosen by many a hostess for her bridge covers. Soft blue-green, violet, old gold, terra cotta, are all good. Appliqued fruits, in soft; contrasting colors, are a smart trimming—applied as a border all around, or confined to the corners. No trimming of any kind must appear on that part of the cloth which lies on the table; plain fabric, unadorned, is the unalterable rule for all but the overhanging borders.
Such table covers as these, used only during the game, are covered with a light cloth when the less serious business of serving tea or supper is in hand. It has become so much the custom for the hostess who gives an afternoon bridge party to ask any number of additional
guests to drop in for tea, that the card tables are as often as not, abandoned at the tea hour, players and newlyarrived guests adjourning to the dining room, where tea is served as at the ordinary reception. But when there are no extra tea-guests, the comfortable practice of sitting about the tables for tea, gives one an excellent excuse for a second pretty table cover—white or colored linen, usually, or any of the suitable cotton fabrics. Borders, embroideries, appliques, drawn work, are all introduced. These light cloths may be used for both the game and the tea, or put on, as has been said, over the dark bridge cloth. There are always four tea-napkins to match each light cloth. The coarse linens are very smart when hemstitched, and various colored threads are drawn through them, to make attractive borders (in the fashion so much in vogue for handkerchiefs). A monogram in one corner of the cloth and of each napkin, completes a good looking set. Factory cotton table cloth and napkins, are banded with color or the edges are button-holed with heavy mercerized thread, and a design in French knots or other stitches, is embroidered in one or all corners. An attractive factory cotton set is pictured; powder blue crochet thread is used to blanket stitch over the quarter-
inch hem; it is done with a crochet hook, and small chain stitches run between the blanket stitches, with a loop of four chain stitches at fixed intervals. A basket in each corner, in light-brown and gold mercerized thread, is filled with gay flowers in rose, pink, navy, black, yellow and green —some in “lazy daisy” stitch, others. French-knotted. The basket-handle is solid satin stitch—half gold, half tan.
THE third member of this group illustrates the use of heavy linen for the set comprised of cloth and napkins. Dark orange embroidery is used on lighter orange linen—a simple conventional design, in conjunction with an over-and-over stitch along the edges. This coarse linen might be used for the bridge game, as well as tea, but the cloth on the bridge table which is set for supper, is of fine, smooth linen, quite unsuitable for the playing period. The latter, by the way, is in a delightful shade of blue-mauve with rows of hemstitching marking it off in squares, and napkins to match. The cloth which preceded it, shown in the companion picture, is of dull blue repp, edged with gold galloon—a most pleasing combination.
Mah jong, whilst following the general line of the rival game in the matter of
accessories, demands certain individual touches that are, we must admit, distinctly charming. The cloths, made in plain colors and with unadorned tops, display in their borders characteristic Oriental touches. Oriental colors are used in trimming, with the emphasis on gold thread embroideries. Again the combination of black satin and gold is very handsome. Linen may in this case be fine or coarse, as the tiles will not slip about as the cards do. Most attractive are the cloths with hem-stitched border and a tile reproduced in each corner, or in one corner of the cloth and each napkin. They are embroidered in bright colors, copied from the tiles themselves.
THE other accoutrements of the welldressed table are to a certain degree pre-determined. Two decks of fresh cards on each table; a score pad with a pencil; a number on each table, when several are used; candy or cigarettes with their attendant ash trays are provided by the thoughtful hostess. Tricky little trump-markers have appeared in a score of designs, though their usefulness is confined rather to the less-seasoned players; and at the bridge party, each guest is also provided with a tally card on which the number of table and couple are written.
IN EACH of these details, the hostess is permitted to exercise any amount of originality. Her score card may fit into a cover of tooled or morocco or suede leather, with perhaps one of the special bridge pencils, quaintly shaped and topped with a club, heart, etc.; her tallies may be as gaily ornate as she pleases and she may distribute them according to any whim. For instance, a youthful party at which the young people were for the most part unknown to each other, was given a gay start by an ingenious hostess, who hid the tallies and distributed, instead, instructions for finding them, based on the old games familiar at children’s parties, when, if one were to “take three steps from the front door, turn to the right, walk around a chair, talk four steps south and look under the largest object within reach, one would find,” a peanut! These ridiculous proceedings were entered into with great gusto by the young guests, and broke the ice most effectively, before they settled down to take their game quite seriously.
THE table numbers are of metal, wood, or cardboard, and are colored to contrast happily with the bridge cloth and often as not, are gaily painted. Anyone with an artistic bent can obtain housenumbers of good shape from a hardware store and paint them—or sometimes numbers are purchased in silver or brass, finish and used without further adornment. The number is placed right in one corner of the table.
Smart versions of all these accessories make excellent bridge prizes and by the way, the successful hostess to-day puts a little real thought upon the matter of her prizes. It is by no means necessary that they be valuable intrinsically; but they must be chosen with a discriminating eye upon the guests. For the debutante’s party, the choice seems to fall in the direction of pretty dressing table accessories oi' charming little vanity trifles. This season there is a noticeable liking for such prizes as a charming bedroom doorknocker, a dressing-table doll dressed in pastel tints or smartly tricked out in black as a foil to well-coiffed white hair; the china lady-doll powder jar; a lovely perfume bottle or atomizer; an easel picture-frame; a leather memorandum or address book; a tiny finger vanity box of French enamel, just big enough to fit with a band over the little finger; dainty taffeta and French-flower confections to hold powder, etc., on the dressing table. “Mostly, we do not put any powder in our jars or boxes, though,” I was solemnly assured, “because,of course, everyone has her own particular powder she likes to use— one does not even know what color to buy, so it is better to make the case very nice and let the winner put her own pet powder into it.” This reasoning seems sound, in a day when the well
dressed woman is careful to match her complexion with her powder as well as her frock.
THE older woman usually appreciates a prize of the type of those included in the group with illustration. A charming bit of chinaemdash;with a preference for a cup and saucer, or a cake plate; a bit of Venetian or Bohemian glass, in ruby, amber, amethyst or sapphire tones; small silver bonbon dishes or salts and peppers, or an interesting bit of Sheffield or Dutch silver; one of the popular candy jars, usually in decorative glass; some nice trifle of linen or perhaps a bridge table cover or a set including napkins; an effective piece of pottery or fascinating little figures in tinted bronzeemdash;these are
all suitable prizes to choose. For the evening bridge, at which it is necessary also to have men’s prizes, the inevitable cigarettes are usually a sound solution. Other smokers’ accessories are popular, as are fountain pens and their companion pencils, a good looking bit of leather, such as a wallet or memorandum book, a silver pocket knife, cards in a leather case or perhaps a bridge set.
There is, on the whole, a very nice balance of the positively prescribed appointments and the scope for individual taste, when one elects to entertain at either of the popular pastimes. It is a wise hostess who pays scrupulous regard to the first, and a clever one who capitalizes the second, to the success of her party and the pleasure of her guests.
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