This section is from the book "Clothing And Health. An Elementary Textbook Of Home Making", by Helen Kinne. Also available from Amazon: Clothing And Health.
Have you ever gone shopping with mother? There are some important things to remember when buying table linen or other household materials. What are they?
Marjorie goes with her mother once a year to buy household linens. This is usually in January, when the big shop in town has a sale. Last January, when Marjorie's mother was ill, they had to order by mail. The catalogue from the shop described fully, and Mrs. Allen knew exactly what to ask for; so they managed without going to town. This can be done if one knows how and if the store is a reliable one. These are some of the things Mrs. Allen is teaching Marjorie. Some day she will wish to buy for her own home; or, if her mother is ill again, she can go alone. It is always more satisfactory to see what one is buying.
Here are some of the points to be noticed in buying: 1. The first important thing to remember is to buy only what one needs. Know the shops one patronizes, if possible, and go or send to only reliable firms. The reliable places are the cheapest in the end. One learns, too, that some things are better at one shop and some at another. Reliable stores often have sales, but as a rule bargains are not cheap. Remember nothing is ever given away.
2. It is wise and cheaper to purchase some new household linen once each year than to wait and have it all wear out at once.
3. Cost is a good guide. Linen is expensive. If too cheap, beware.
4. Linen is sometimes cheapened or adulterated with cotton. If the store keeper sells it for union, it is honest; if he calls it linen, and you pay linen price, it is dishonest. Ravel and untwist the ends of the warp and filling thread. Cotton will be fuzzy, linen should be long and lustrous. Round threads of linen are best. The linen threads appear pointed at the ends when separated. The all linens made from the tow (you have learned what that is) are cheaper than those made from the line. Why? They will not last quite so well.
Wet the linen. Water spreads more rapidly on linen than on cotton. An old-fashioned test was to moisten with the finger. If you have a sample of linen at home for testing, use a drop of olive oil. The oil makes the linen fibers more translucent than the cotton. Why ?
5. Another way to know. Linen feels colder than cotton ; also it feels heavier when crushed in the hand.
6. Notice the finish. Is it full of starch which can be picked off? If so, after the washing you will have a loosely woven material without starch. It is better to buy a softer linen than one filled stiff with starch which will crack.
7. Damask by the yard is slightly cheaper than by the cloth. One dollar a yard is a fair price. Table cloths from 2 1/2 to 3 yards are a good size for a family of six. A cloth wears about as long as 1 1/2 or 2 dozen napkins. The price of one dozen napkins about equals the cost of a cloth. Napkins come in three sizes: 5/8, 17-22 inches; 3/4, 23-27 inches; 7/8, 29-31 inches.
8. Scotch, French, and Irish linens are the best for quality, beauty, and variety of patterns. German damask is good; but German patterns are perhaps the least attractive. Unbleached linen will wear much longer, is less expensive, and is bought by many housewives and bleached as used.
9. For family towels huckaback is the most serviceable, although damask is used a great deal. Linen towels vary in price from $3.00 a dozen up, according to size and quality. Dish towels of linen crash are very serviceable.
10. The microscope is the only sure test for distinguishing cotton and linen fibers.
1. Ask. mother if she knows any other methods of judging good linen.
2. When you go to town, price some tablecloths and napkins. How much will a good cloth and napkins cost ?
I. Plan a systematic way of looking over your clothing and keeping it in repair.
11. How do you store your winter clothing for protection during summer? Your summer clothes during winter ?
III. How does your knowledge of buying linens help you in going shopping with mother ?