This section is from the book "School Needlework. A Course of Study in Sewing designed for use in Schools", by Olive C. Hapgood. Also available from Amazon: School Needlework: A Course Of Study In Sewing Designed For Use In Schools.
Cloth is a fabric woven from cotton, wool, linen, or silk. Cotton is the cheapest, and silk the most expensive in price. From cotton are made many qualities of unbleached, half-bleached, and bleached cloth, also calicoes, ginghams, muslins, nainsooks, cambrics, etc. From wool are made flannels, cashmeres, and many varieties of dress goods. Linen cloth is made in all grades, from the finest linen lawn to heavy canvas ; it is generally used for collars, cuffs, handkerchiefs, table-cloths, napkins, towels, etc. Silk is made into dress-silks, ribbons, satins, velvets, etc. Soft, pliable, white cotton cloth (often called muslin) of medium quality is best for a beginner to use at first.
The threads of the cloth are called the warp and the woof. The threads running lengthwise are the warp, those running across from selvedge to selvedge are the woof; both can be easily seen on a piece of coarse crash. The warp is usually stronger than the woof, and for this reason, any part of a garment requiring strength, should be cut lengthwise of the cloth.
Cloth is woven straight, but is sometimes drawn out of shape by pressing. When you can ravel a thread the width or length of the cloth, it is straight, or will become so after washing. If it looks uneven, it can be drawn into place by stretching it on the bias. Calico, when torn, often looks very uneven, and should be pulled into shape.
The selvedge of cloth is the finished lengthwise edge, and cannot be ravelled. The raw edge is the edge that is cut or torn. A fold is the edge made by doubling one part of the cloth over the other. The nap is the shaggy substance on the surface of the cloth. To tear a piece of cloth, cut in one inch by a thread, then, holding a corner of the cut between the thumb and forefinger of each hand, roll the edges from you, and tear steadily; a fine piece of cloth must be torn carefully.
What is cloth? Name some kinds of cloth made from cotton; from wool; from linen; from silk. What are the threads of the cloth running lengthwise of the goods called? Those running across? How can you tell when a piece of cotton cloth is straight? If it looks uneven, how can it be drawn into shape? What is the selvedge of cloth? The raw edge? What is a fold? How should a piece of cloth be torn?