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.
Miss Travers from the State College talks to the girls of Pleasant Valley School about buying clothing, especially of wool or silk. You, too, will wish to know what Miss Travers said.
Have you ever considered whether it is wise or not to buy your clothing ready-made? Most of the mothers of the Pleasant Valley girls make the garments at home with some assistance from the visiting dressmaker.
What a help the Pleasant Valley girls will be when the dressmaker comes to their homes. They are not old enough to take full responsibility, but they will surely be able to assist after the dressmaker has planned. This will help their mothers, too. Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Stark, and Mrs. Oakes have already discovered how many good suggestions their daughters have to give.
It is sometimes wise to buy things ready-made. In our grandmothers' day this was impossible. Grandmother Stark used to stitch all Grandfather Stark's shirts by hand and make his overalls. To-day one can buy good serviceable garments like overalls, rompers, shirts, etc., at moderate prices, ready-made. Just what should be made at home should be determined by the mother, and will depend on her time and duties at home. Some mothers can so organize their household work that they have time for some sewing too, and they enjoy the change of work. It pays to make certain garments because the workmanship is often better and one can choose one's own materials. This means that the life of the garment is apt to be longer. This is economy if one has the time and strength; but it never pays if one sacrifices other things like fresh air, exercise, some relaxation, for the sake of saving a little money.
What should you consider in buying ready-made garments? Miss Travers says it never pays to buy flimsy materials, cheap lace edging, or insertions which are poorly put together and will tear. One can instead purchase ready-made garments which are plain. It is not always possible to afford the time to make dainty, fine, hand-made underwear, which soon wears out; but one can often spare the time to construct a few pairs of more durable drawers, and corset covers, by machine for everyday wear, when one realizes how much greater will be the life of the garment.
If one is buying ready-made garments, one should think about the following things :
1. Is the material suitable? will it wear well? is the color suitable or will it fade very soon ?
2. Consider the workmanship. Are the seams well sewed? Is the stitching very coarse, or does the garment look well finished? Is the appearance neat, or will it pull apart very soon?
3. The construction should be examined. Is the garment well cut, or is it cheap because it is scant in fullness? This may not permit of freedom in movement, and the garment may have to be cast aside because uncomfortable. Then money is wasted.
4. It never pays to buy anything which one does not need. It is well to have foresight and to plan for what one will need for the year, but experience soon teaches one the quantity. It is foolish to buy unnecessary things because they are pretty. One should learn not to be tempted.
5. It sometimes pays to wait until certain seasons for purchasing garments. Between seasons one can get well-made articles of clothing at considerable reduction, if one can wait. Winter garments are reduced in January or February, and summer goods in July or August. It often pays to wait. In planning one's wardrobe, one can think about this. January is often a good time to buy household linens or other furnishings at a reduction.
6. The use of garments should guide one in making a selection. It is necessary to study one's whole wardrobe and to know what is needed. A girl engaged in business will need an entirely different wardrobe from one who spends most of her time at home helping mother. The first step, then, in economy is to know one's needs and to purchase accordingly. Is the garment needed and suitable for the occasion? Remember about appropriateness, and buy garments which will render the service needed. One does not wear silk dresses for housework.
7. Sometimes undergarments are made in sweatshops under very undesirable conditions for health. The garments are cheap because made by poorly paid workers under very unsanitary conditions. Do you wish to wear such garments? As long as women buy the cheap kind made at the sacrifice of human life, this sweatshop system will continue. One can buy inexpensive underwear made under sanitary conditions. It is labeled with a tag of the Consumers' League. This is an organization which is trying to better the conditions in workrooms and shops in which clothing is made and to improve wages and working hours. This League permits the use of its label on white underwear made under the conditions they approve of: no work outside of factories, no child labor under sixteen years of age, and obedience to the state labor laws. The labels are used by firms agreeing to fulfill the above requirements. If you are purchasing underwear, perhaps you can buy some with the Consumers' League label. It looks like this (Fig. 141). Miss James wears this kind, and Mrs. Oakes and Mrs. Allen, too, now that they know about it.
Fig. 141. - Consumers' League Label and Union Label.
8. It is sometimes more economical to decide on a particular color for a season. One can, as a rule, wear one's clothes to more economical advantage and look better dressed by choosing a particular color than if one has a red dress, a blue coat, and a green dress for best. The coat is probably worn with both dresses and may not look well.
9. Remember, if one has only a limited amount of money for clothes, one should not try to buy the very latest fashions. Exaggerated styles live but a short time, and some of us must wear our clothes for a long time, until they are worn out. If materials are good, one can often have one's clothes remade, by combination with a little new material of a contrasting kind. A knowledge of textile materials and values will always help in selecting either ready-made clothing or materials. 10. Remember you must know about the things you wish to purchase. Clerks as a rule know very little about the goods they sell. If you know, you can make the dollars earned buy more than if you were ignorant.
Fig. 142. - It takes much thought to learn to buy intelligently.
What should you think about in buying materials? Here are some of the hints for purchasing wool and silk materials or garments which Miss Travers gave the Pleasant Valley girls. Talk them over with your teacher. See if you agree.
1. Garments made of wool and cotton mixed do not keep their shape as well as all wool. If one can afford only wool and cotton, the salesman should tell one in purchasing about their composition. The mixture should be cheaper. It is often sold for all wool at a higher price. If one untwists the fibers of the material, it is possible to detect cotton. Try at school on some ravelings of garment seams or other materials. The burning test will help one to decide. We shall learn some tests in our next lesson.
2. Remember wool is an expensive fiber. Do not expect to get all wool for little money.
3. Remember the weave affects wearing quality. A close twill weave is often more durable than a basket weave.
Do you remember your lessons about silk; how it is grown and made by the little worm, and how it is manufactured or spun into thread or woven into silk cloth? In buying silk one must remember about its manufacture.
1. Silk is seldom pure. It is apt to be weighted. If the silk feels heavy in the hand, it does not always mean that it is a good piece of material and will wear; it may be weighted with tin; up to 30 per cent of tin is not harmful. A softer, pliable silk is not apt to be so weighted, and will wear better. Soft silks so woven as to pull at the seams are not economical. Close weaves are better than loosely woven ones for wearing.
2. Fray some of the threads of the cloth you wish to buy. Is it possible to break either the warp or woof easily? If so, the silk will split along either warp or filling and will not wear.
3. One should not expect to get bargains in silk. Cheap silk will not wear. It is better to wear some other material. Is the material made of reeled silk or of spun silk? You have learned the difference. Articles made of reeled silk are more expensive.
4. Silk is sometimes adulterated with cotton or artificial silk and sold for all silk. We shall learn some tests in our next lesson so we may discover too.
Miss James talked over all these points with the Pleasant Valley girls and showed them some good and bad materials. The girls decided to be on the lookout for these things. Will you ?
1. Bring to school garments or materials which have not worn well. Try to find out why. Your teacher will help.
2. Write a composition about things to think about in purchasing a new winter suit ready-made. If you must buy from a catalogue, can you judge about the wearing qualities ?