THE HOME BEAUTIFUL

Keeping Up With Spring

With skilful use of colorful fabrics it is comparatively easy to brighten old rooms and keep them in tune with the new out-of-doors

MARY AGNES PEASE March 1 1929
THE HOME BEAUTIFUL

Keeping Up With Spring

With skilful use of colorful fabrics it is comparatively easy to brighten old rooms and keep them in tune with the new out-of-doors

MARY AGNES PEASE March 1 1929

Keeping Up With Spring

THE HOME BEAUTIFUL

With skilful use of colorful fabrics it is comparatively easy to brighten old rooms and keep them in tune with the new out-of-doors

MARY AGNES PEASE

IN THE spring of the year we all yearn for change. Distant fields look particularly green, we want to see green, new people, wear new clothes, and have a different environment.

It may have been this urge to be foot-loose and fancy free in the growing season that was responsible for that perennial upheaval known as “Spring Cleaning.” Nature suggests a departure from the usual, and since the majority of housekeepers are unable by circumstances to “follow-the-leader,” they find a cure for their spring fever in a determined attack on their lares and penates—a sort of domesticated Wanderlust.

Householders of the present day are much more blessed than were their grandparents when they essay to make changes in their housefurnishings. It is only within recent years that it has been possible to buy cheaply, colorful draperies and small bits of furniture with which to brighten old familiar rooms and keep them in tune with Nature’s efforts out-of-doors.

I do not know of anything that will so effectively change the complexion of a room and make it bloom as will a new cover of taffeta or chintz for a dressing-table, a chair or a sofa—or all three—with new matching curtains for the windows. With very little effort, small expense, and a few yards of some of the new, beautiful materials which are on display in the shops, any housekeeper can rejuvenate her rooms and, at the same time, satisfy her longing for change.

The Dressing-Table Beautiful

TYRAPED dressing-tables are of infinite ■Lvariety and may be made of every conceivable fabric. Few articles of furniture can add so much grace and beauty to a room as a fabric-hung dressing-table. Cabinet-makers have designed all sorts of shapes as foundations for these tables and they can be bought for a few dollars. It is usually possible to find an old kitchen table in the house that can be pressed into service for the purpose, and if one is handy with a saw, it can be remoulded to the heart’s desire. I saw a lovely dressing-table the other day that had as its base a couple of orange boxes.

The foundation for the table, a photograph of which is reproduced with this article, was made by a country carpenter and was painted a pale yellow to accord with the background of the chintz draping it. Nothing could be simpler or easier to make than such a dressing-table, which depends largely on the beauty of the material for its charm. On the top is a piece of the chintz with a glass cover, and the skirt has two rows of gathers at the top to make it fit in place, and a wide plain hem at the bottom.

If a chintz is used that is not quite so distinctive in character as the one portrayed on this table, a ruffle of the material bound in plain chintz might be added at the top and bottom of the skirt. Or a plain band might appear around the edge of the table and a similar one about two inches lower.

In a bride’s house which is just now being furnished, the bedroom is done in apple green, and the dressing-table is draped in red taffeta, which is most effective against the cool green walls. It reminded me of a red rose in its proper environment of green. An occasional further note of red in similar and paler shades for accessories made a happy and unusual blending of color.

A Wide Range of Suitable Materials

MANY people prefer taffeta as a drapery for these tables because it is becoming and easily handled. There are some new fabrics at present on the market that are like taffeta in appearance, but have more sturdy wearing qualities. It is possible with either taffeta or kindred materials to make a more feminine effect than with the heavier fabrics. The red taffeta table referred to was trimmed with narrow ruffles of the material “pinked” out, and the overhanging mirror had its frame covered with a puff of the same silk. It is possible nowadays to buy silk or satin flowers suitably arranged in form and color to be appliquéd on plain materials; they form a glowing note on top of the table and upon the side of the skirt. In this case, of course, a glass top should not be used.

There is a wide range of materials suitable for dressingtables—dotted muslin, silk, lace, embroidery, flowered chiffon, chintz, taffeta and many other charming fabrics that the shops are featuring.

The foundation for the table should be twenty-six inches high and should allow for knee space. It is better to have the top flush with the underneath part, as it will thus be easier to drape. It is a simple matter to cut off a protruding top. I have found a kitchen table a most satisfactory background for a table of this kind, as it usually has one or two drawers. The average size of a dressing-table is about forty inches long and sixteen inches wide. A semicircular table which can be made most attractive should be about sixteen inches at the deepest point and thirty-two inches wide. It is advisable to paint the table the color of the material, both on account of appearance and also as a protection to the wood and the fabric.

After the table is ready, the top should be padded with a layer of soft material—canton flannel will do admirably. The finishing fabric goes on next, pulled tightly and smoothly over the padding and tacked firmly in place. Next, the skirt is attached, the pleats or gathers arranged to fit the top and also tacked on. If the table is supplied with drawers it is better to make the skirt in three sections, one for the centre drawer and one for each side. If the material is thin it should have a separate lining to hold it in place. Ruffles or bands should be made separately and completely finished before being attached.

Some people make the skirt with dome fasteners, so that it can be snapped on and easily removed, which is a great help when delicate materials are used which require to be washed or cleaned.

Slip-Covers

THE making of slip-covers is also a simple matter for anyone who can do plain sewing and run a sewing-machine. Careful measuring, neat fitting and smart stitching are the main requirements. The type of slip-cover acceptable to-day is very different from those in the Victorian era which were made of Holland linen and used only for putting the furniture into retirement for the summer season. The present-day covers for furniture are so welltailored and smartly finished that they lend distinction to the individual pieces so covered and give life and color to a room.

I saw some dining room chairs recently that were fine in line, but rather shabby in upholstery, which had been simply glorified by natty little jackets of bright-colored chintz. The woman who made them had never before essayed any work of this kind and when I expressed my surprise at the success of her work, she said: “Well, why not? I can sew, and I went through the shops to see how such things were put together. Then I got the advice of a saleswoman as to widths and patterns of materials, came home, oiled up the old sewing-machine, and there you are! It was a tedious but not a complicated job.”

The slip-cover for the chair illustrated is very spring-like in design and coloring. Some chairs are completely cushioned, but the one pictured has a detachable cushion for which a separate cover was necessary. This was completely finished with stitching on three sides and fastened on the fourth side with hooks and eyes, so that it could be readily removed for cleaning purposes.

The amount of material required for the cover is, of course, the first consideration. The piece of furniture should be measured from the floor at the back up and over the back, allowing an inch for seams at the turns, then down the front to the back of the seat where four inches should be allowed to tuck in. Follow the seat down, allowing another inch for the seam at the front of the seat, and measure down to the floor. The measurement to the floor provides for the hem. If the cover is to have a flounce like that in the photograph this will require a measurement of two and a half times the circumference of the chair. In a slip-cover there is never any material under the flounce. To measure the sides of the chair, start at the floor and measure over the arm down to the seat, allowing three extra inches for seams. If a wide material is used it will not be necessary to provide an extra amount for special pieces at the top of the arms and sides, but it is advisable, when starting out to look for a suitable fabric, to have exact measurements of all possible requirements. Detached cushions, such as that in the photograph, need a piece of material the size of the top and bottom of the cushion and a narrow piece of sufficient length to cover the four sides.

Many people are of opinion that a slipcover must be made of chintz, but there are many other materials that can be used for this purpose with equal advantage. I saw a cover the other day made of lacquered fabric in orchid edged with jade green that was a lovely note in a green room. There are beautiful linens in all sorts of colors, washable satins, reps, poplins and many other materials.

For the amateur who is attempting for the first time to make a slip-cover, I would advise the use of a plain material or one with a very simple design. Contrast in color is possible by piping the seams with material of another color— mauve could be piped with yellow, blue with black, etc.

In using a flowered or striped material, care must be taken to have the flowers suitably placed and to have the stripes run correctly. When this has been done, it is an easy matter to cut and fit the fabric. It should be practically made with pins, put in at about every two inches where the stitching is to be made. Then when the cover is lifted, all that is required is the final stitching.

Bring spring into your house by providing a slip-cover for the shabby old sofa or chair, treat yourself to a new dressing-table, recover dull cushions, repaint some of your shabby pieces, and thus catch up the tune which Nature plays so ardently in the budding season.