Fancy Work Friday: Leaf Pen-Wipers

My local meteorologist shared the annual map of fall foliage showing the percentage of change from greens to autumnal colors. As the many shades of yellows, golds, oranges, reds, and burgundy over take the landscape, now is the perfect time to venture out to collect a few leaves for those little sewing projects.
The Victorian work-table found many uses for leaves, both found and imagined. Both ladies’ and children’s literature abounded with projects from penwipers to pin keeps to shaving papers to fire screens. As you wander the falling leaves in all their colors, here is a sampling of projects to try. (Don’t worry. If you don’t have leaves to collect, you can use your imagination to create your own.



A Shaving-Paper Case.
This is a nice thing to make for papas and grown-up brothers. For a pattern take a grape leaf, lay it down on card-board, draw round its edges with a pencil, and cut the paper in the same shape. Buy half-a-dozen sheets of tissue-paper, red, blue, white, green and yellow; fold them over four or eight times, according to the size, lay your card-board pattern down over them and cut the shape round with sharp scissors. It is on these soft sheets of thin paper that the razor is to be wiped clean. Make the cover of the same form, in green silk, or cloth, or Japanese canvas. Overcast the edge, or bind it with ribbon and imitate the veins of the leaf with long stitches of green sewing-silk. The tissue-paper grape leaves are inserted between
the outside leaf-covers. There must be a loop of ribbon at the stem end of the leaf to hang it up by. (One Hundred Christmas Presents, and How to Make Them from St. Nicholas’s Magazine, December 1875


Leaf Pen-Wipers.
The directions for making a shaving-paper case will enable you also to make a leaf pen-wiper, except that you now require a smaller leaf for your pattern (say an oak or maple leaf), and you put leaves of black cloth instead of tissue-paper between the two outside leaves. These outside leaves should be the color of the leave whose
pattern is chosen – red or yellow for maple, and brown for an oak, unless you prefer green. (One Hundred Christmas Presents, and How to Make Them from St. Nicholas’s Magazine, December 1875)


A Leaf Pen-Wiper.
Your pattern for this must be a beech-leaf again, – a long one this time, – or you make trace the shape
from the illustration. Outline the shape as before, and from the model thus secured cut six leaves in flannel – two green, two brown, and two red, or red, white and blue, or any combination you like. Snip the edge of each leave into very tiny points, and chain-stitch veins upon it with gold-colored floss. Attach these leaves together by the upper ends, arranging under them three triply pointed leaves of black broadcloth or silk to receive the ink, and finish the top with a small bow of ribbon. (A Budget of Home-Made Christmas Gifts.
St. Nicholas’s Magazine, December 1877)


A Leaf Needle-Book.
For this needle-book you will need the following materials: One-eighth of a yard of crimson or green velvet, one-eighth of a yard of lining silk to match, one-eighth of a yard of fine white flannel, two skeins of white silk floss, a bit of Bristol-board, and a half yard of narrow ribbon.
Cut in the Bristol-board a couple of leaf-shaped pieces like the illustration. Cover each with the velvet, turning in the edges neatly, line with the silk, and button-hole both together all round with white glass. Stitch the veins in the leaves with the floss, held tightly, so as to depress the lines a little. Cut three leaves of flannel in the same shape, button-hole the edges, lay them between the leaves and fasten all together at the top with a bow of ribbon. A tiny loop and button should be attached to the point to hold the needle-book together. (A Budget of Home-Made Christmas Gifts.
St. Nicholas’s Magazine, December 1877)


Household Ornaments – Pen Wiper.
Miss Lizzie Holmes, of Des Moines Co., Iowa, sends us the following sketch and description. (The engraver has magnified the leaf-veins to an unnatural size, in order to show the stitches. The engraving is a little more than one-third the size of the article itself.) “A very pretty Pen Wiper may be made as follows: Cut two pieces of black, gray, or brown cloth, the shape of the above pattern. Work the veins on one leaf with green silk or worsted, in chain or herring-bone stitch, and on the other with red. Then cut two pieces of black silk of the same shape, and baste on the underside of each leaf as a lining; finish the edge of each in button-hole stitch with worsted or beads. Cut half a dozen leaves of some soft, black material, and lay between the two covers, fastening at the stem with a bow of narrow ribbon, or covered wire.” (American Agriculturalist, 1868.
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015082453773?urlappend=%3Bseq=153%3Bownerid=13510798897170707-159 )



Needle-book. – This we think a very captivating pattern. The five leaves that form one side are covered with green silk, gathered in the center and veined with gold beads. Each leaf is bordered with a cross-stitching of corn-colored silk, and edged with chain-stitch. It may be lined with crimson, and the white flannel leaves that hold the needles inside edged with crimson in buttonhole stitch. Over the joining of the leaves is placed the half
of an English walnut shell, the perforations necessary for attaching it each covered with a large gold bead. The ribbon bows may be either green or brown. (The Lady’s Friend, 1864
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951000753433o?urlappend=%3Bseq=486%3Bownerid=13510798903022
398-512 )



Penwiper.
Materials.- Scarlet, black, or green cloth or velvet; black mull muslin; gold beads; green and brown embroidery chenille; silk.
Cut out from the cloth or velvet two leaves of the shape and size of the design. Work the edges with the button-hole stitch in silk, the acorns with the green chenille, and their cups with gold beads; the veins of the leaves are in gold beads. Make a little branch of wire for the holder, cover it with brown chenille, and work the upper part of the stalk also with brown chenille. Cut four or five inner leaves of the mull for wiping the pens; notch the edges and fasten them between the two worked leaves. (Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1868
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015067908890?urlappend=%3Bseq=171%3Bownerid=135107988870492
83-171



The Leaf Penwiper
This can be easily made out of odd pieces of cloth or cashmere. Three leaves each cut four inches and a half long, and two inches and a half wide at the widest part, are to be worked through the center with sik of some slightly papped at the top and fastened with a velvet or ribbon bow. These form the outer part; and the under leaves, which are to be used, can be made of black cloth, cut in one piece in the shape of the outer leaves after
they are joined; only a little smaller. (Demorest’s Family Magazine, 1874
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951000970016t?urlappend=%3Bseq=929%3Bownerid=1351079890267
0568-953 )

Leaf Penwiper.
“Choose a pretty maple or oak leaf for the pattern of your penwiper, and select cloth of a color that would suggest the leaf, – reddish-brown for an oak, or yellow for a maple. Take a paper pattern of the leaf by laying it on stif paper, tracing the outline with a pencil, and then cutting it out with a pair of scissors. Cut out two leaves of your brown or yellow cloth, and three inside leaves of chamois-skin or broadcloth. If you like, you can imitate the veins of a leaf by embroidering them with silk in stem-stitch on the upper leaf of the
penwiper.” ( The American Girl’s Home Book of Work and Play, 1902.)

Leaf Pen-Wiper. – Work a leaf in green cloth, with the veins all marked in lighter silk, and black pieces underneath. Any shaped leaf can be taken; a fern will do even, as the pinnules can be worked on it to imitate the shape tolerably.” (Three Hundred Decorative and Fancy Articles for Presents, Fairs, etc. by Lucretia Peabody Hale, 1885.)


A Leaf Pen-Wiper.
Your pattern for this must be a beech-leaf again,—a long one this time,—or you may trace the shape from the illustration. Outline the shape as before, and from the model thus secured cut six leaves in flannel—two green, two brown, and two red, or red, white and blue, or any combination you like. Snip the edge of each leaf into very tiny points, and chain-stitch veins upon it with gold-colored floss. Attach these leaves together by the upper ends, arranging under them three triply pointed leaves of black broadcloth or silk to receive the ink, and finish the top with a small bow of ribbon. (St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol 5, 1877.)

Now, this is where I am going to get a little sloppy. I sprained my wrist at a yardsale. So….. The 1888 edition of Needle and Brush has several projects of leafy goodness including a cluster of wool leaves for a pen wipe and a two page design for embroidery or painting. I did my best to clean up the design and make it printable (in Paint and Publisher with my less dominant hand.) I sized the design in two ways and reversed it. I would love to see it worked up.

Do let me know if you make any of these autumn leaf inspired pieces.

Published in: on September 23, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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