Cotton we have found to be cheap and plentiful, and the demand for cotton cloth may easily be met with good material. It is manufactured into a great variety of fabrics, and is capable of replacing to a certain extent any other fiber. The quality of cotton cloth depends on the strength of the fibers, the fineness or coarseness of material, the weave, the color and design, and the adulterations. The kind of cloth to be bought depends on the use to which it is to be put; the quality demanded depends on the use and also quite largely on the price to be paid for the material.
The adulterations of cotton cloth are not numerous and are not difficult to distinguish. Being the cheapest of fibers, it is not adulterated with any other fiber, but it may be increased in weight and apparent firmness by the addition of sizing. This sizing, of course, does not increase the wearing quality of the cloth, and may have the opposite effect of weakening it considerably by the presence of injurious chemicals. If these are present in large quantities, the cloth loses greatly in weight and firmness with the first washing. A certain amount of sizing is necessary to give the cloth a good finish and to enable it to keep its shape while being handled upon the counter, but this amount is frequently very much exceeded. Adulteration of this kind may be detected by the feeling, as a large quantity imparts harshness to the material. In very thin fabrics the sizing may often be detected by holding the cloth up to the light, to show the starch between the threads. Washing or boiling a sample thoroughly will show the amount of sizing present.
Another method used to adulterate cotton with sizing or pastes is the imitation of an embroidered Swiss or other thin material. In this case the design is printed on the cloth in heavy paste, instead of being embroidered in. This device gives most unsatisfactory results when laundered. The dots either disappear in washing or turn brown when ironed even at a temperature considerably below that necessary to burn the cloth. The imitation of mercerized cotton by heavy pressing with engraved rollers has been mentioned. The luster thus obtained is frequently on only one side of the cloth, and has a different character from that of true merceriza-tion. If the sample is washed, the imitation luster disappears, while true mercerized luster is permanent.
It is well to test the strength of cotton goods by tearing slightly at the edge of the material. It may have been weakened by the bleaching process, or a bolt which has been some time in stock may have become considerably weakened by the action of the chemicals in the sizing or the dye.
Standard cotton materials, such as muslin, organdie, percale, calico, and sheeting, differ only in weight of material, fineness of thread, hardness of twist, or method of finish. Ginghams have the thread dyed before weaving and have fancy weaves, with the introduction of silk threads in some grades. Duck, denim, and other heavy materials have very hard-twisted threads, and are frequently woven with a twill. Silkolene is a trade name for a fine cotton cloth with a silky finish given after the cloth is woven. Madras, shirting, cheviot, chambray, and many other names are applied to materials with fancy weaves, figures, or stripes. Chintz and cretonne are names given to heavier print goods used for house furnishing. Mercerized cotton makes a number of attractive lustrous materials for dress and for furnishing. Among these may be mentioned poplin, imitation pongee, and "Egyptian tapestry," the last being used for hangings.
B. Same Price, Called Wool.
C. Cotton Left from B When Wool Removed by Caustic Potash.
Fig. 36. A. All-wool Worsted, $0.75 a Yard B. Same Price, Called Wool C. Cotton Left from B When Wool Removed by Caustic Potash D. Wool Left, Cotton Removed by Acid.
India "linon" is entirely cotton; "Canton flannel" has a fleecy surface on the wrong side, and "outing flannel" is fleecy on both sides, but both are cotton.
Many "tussahs," "voiles," "economy linens,"and other materials with rather deceptive names are cotton made to imitate silk, wool, or linen.