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.
Suppose you order the muslin for your nightdress and, while waiting for it to arrive, learn about the cotton materials which can be used for underwear. Can you add a whole page of white materials to your textile books ?
Suppose you open the surprise box on your teacher's desk. It is quite full. Let us sort the samples and examine the white ones, especially, to-day; for your underwear is to be made of white cotton material. Let us look also at the ones which are almost white. They are unbleached white; the others have been bleached with a chemical to make them look so snowy white. They have been dipped in a bath of chloride of lime, and then in another bath of water and sulphuric acid, until the material has become white.
Do you know how our grandmothers used to bleach sheets and other unbleached articles which they wished to have white? Grandmother Allen used to bleach those she made on her hand loom. Why did they place them on the grass in the sun? What bleached them?
This unbleached sample is muslin; it is for sheets. Here is some white which is of the same plain weave. The unbleached is cheaper. It comes one yard wide and can be bought for 5 cents and, in better qualities, up to 15 cents per yard. It wears very well - better than bleached muslin. Can you tell why? It is used. for sheets and pillowcases. We may later make a pair of pillowcases from this unbleached muslin. The white muslin can be bought in a cheap quality for 7 cents a yard; and it may also be bought in finer qualities. Here is a piece of Alpine rose muslin from our sample box. Isn't that a pretty name for it? It is soft and much finer, and costs 30 cents a yard. Bleached muslins come in width from 36 to 72 inches. The wide width is used for sheetings and is woven that width that no seam may be necessary through the center of the sheet.
This soft, light cotton material is called nainsook. Isn't that a queer name? It is from an old Hindoo word for a material made and used in India. Nainsook is used for underwear and clothing for baby. It comes in several grades. Miss James has some coarser samples, too. It is soft and is nearly always finished, when woven, with very little dressing or starch to stiffen it. It comes 27 inches in width and varies in price from 15 to 50 cents a yard.
Would you like a dress of one of these? Miss James has found two other thin, sheer, white ones. There are so many I wonder if we can remember all. This thin one is lawn and is a plain weave. It comes in inexpensive qualities at 5 cents and in better qualities for 25 cents. The width varies from 36 to 40 inches. Do you know of anything at home or in school, made of lawn? Yes, dresses, aprons, curtains. It comes in colors too; here is a pretty blue. It is smooth and starched and pressed when one buys it.
This other is soft but not so starched. It is called mull. That is a Hindoo word, too. Do you remember that cotton was grown in India many years before we had it in America; that is why the cotton materials so often have Indian names. Mull is too fine for underwear, but it is used for pretty white dresses.
Here are two heavy white samples; one is called Indian head, and the other duck. Such strange names! Do you know their uses? Perhaps your mother had a skirt last summer of duck or Indian Head. Mrs. Alden of Pleasant Valley had one. Both these cotton materials wear well. The duck is used for men's trousers, also; and in very heavy qualities, it is used for sails or tents and awnings. John Alden's first long trousers were made of duck. How important he felt! Duck is sometimes colored blue or other colors. It varies in width from 27 to 36 inches and costs from 12 cents up. The Indian head is used for the same purposes as duck and comes in the same width for about the same price, - 15 cents a yard up, according to quality.
We shall have time to study about only two more today. They are both heavy. This is galatea, and comes in white, like this sample, or in colors. It is firm like duck and Indian head. Can you tell for what it is used? Have you ever seen any before? It is used for dress skirts, and very often for girls' middy blouses or children's clothes. It washes very well. It is 27 inches wide and costs from 14 to 25 cents a yard.
The last sample is cotton birds eye or huckaback. It is sold by the yard or by the piece. It costs less per yard to buy it by the piece of 10 yards. It varies in cost, according to quality, and is woven from 18 to 27 inches wide. We also have huckaback towels made of cotton or linen or a mixture of cotton and linen. Here is one which Miss James uses at school (Fig. 36). I wonder who can go to the board and make a list of all the new white material we have found in the surprise box. Shall we put them in our sample book? Who will write the use of each, opposite the name? If you cannot remember the prices and widths, look on the samples; many are marked, especially those which have come from the town store. Which do you think will be best for your nightgowns? Yes, cambric, nainsook, or muslin. Which will be softest and lightest? Which is the heaviest of these three? Shall we use the muslin? It is strong and will wear well. Shall we choose this piece? It is 10 cents a yard. How much shall we need? We shall talk about it next lesson. Any one who wishes to use the unbleached muslin which costs 7 cents, may do so; or the finer nainsook which is 15 cents a yard. How can the unbleached be made white as it is used?
Fig. 36. - A towel which Miss James uses at school.
1. Look up the story of how cloth is bleached in any of the library books on textiles, or in the encyclopedia.
2. Add six cotton materials you have just studied about, to your textile sample books.
3. Decide what kind of white material you wish to use for your nightdress.