Needlework, like all knowledge, has to be learnt, it does not quite come to us by instinct; and it is, above all things, the most feminine of occupations, quite as necessary for girls and women to understand thoroughly as it is for them to know how to read and write. It is one of the useful arts, and a means of training the hand and the eye; it encourages quiet habits, and helps to bring out homely qualities.
Cottons. Calico and longcloth are much in demand for underclothing of every description. Calico is from 30 to 36 inches wide, whilst longcloth is 36 inches wide. Longcloth is superior to calico, having a better finish, and is finer.
Calicoes are strong, and very serviceable for heavy wear.
Twilled calico, which is often used for nightshirts, is 36 inches wide, and cheaper than longcloth.
Cambric is a soft material, firm and light, often used for fine underclothing as well as for blouses and children's frocks and pinafores. Some of the fancy cambrics are used for ladies' dresses and for dayshirts for gentlemen. It varies in width from 40 to 44 inches.
Nainsook is much finer and thinner than cambric, but not so wide, being only from 36 to 38 inches. This is used more for children's frocks and "best" pinafores, and for frills for other garments.
Muslin is used in the same way, but is very thin and almost transparent. It can be had either quite plain or in fancy patterns.
Mull muslin is plain, thin, and soft, very nice for the making of frills for garments.
Madapollam is much used for underclothing, being finer and lighter than longcloth, and wears and washes well. It is a good width, being from 36 to 42 inches wide.
Print is an ordinary make of calico, having a stripe or pattern printed on one side. Some prints wash well and last a long time, according to their quality and whether the pattern is thoroughly stamped on, almost going through, when it is said to be "fast colour."
Gingham has both sides alike, it being manufactured from yarn dyed before it is woven, and the threads are of the same thickness. It is most used for underskirts, dresses, children's frocks and pinafores. As it washes and wears well it is a favourite material, but is not very wide, being only from 30 to 34 inches.
Zephyr is much the same kind of material, but of a superior make.
Flannelette, has to a certain extent, taken the place of flannel, especially among the poor, for it is cheaper and much easier to wash, and is also warm. This in a good quality is better than a cheap flannel, which would be very coarse, but there is no wool whatever in it. If you buy this material, see that you get a good British non-inflammable make, then it will be well worth putting good work into it. Cheap flannelette is highly inflammable, therefore none but a special non-inflammable make should be bought.
Linen. At one time this was much used for underclothing; some even use it now, but it is not considered healthy, as it does not absorb any perspiration. • Lawn is the finest kind of linen, and is used for all purposes. It can be bought about 36 inches wide, at almost any price from 9 1/2d. to 2s. 6d. a yard.
Holland can be procured bleached or unbleached. It is made in many qualities and different widths, being useful for dresses, aprons, pinafores, overalls, and many household purposes. The "unbleached" or brown holland washes well, and always looks nice, but is apt to shrink unless great care is taken with the washing and ironing.
Woollen Materials. Welsh flannel is rather coarse and rough-looking, having uneven threads, with a wide selvedge, and is generally pale blue-green in colour.
Lancashire flannel is very much like the Welsh, but not quite so. rough, and the threads are more even. Both these flannels are specially useful for the making of those garments intended for hard wear.
Saxony flannel is beautifully soft and light, with a pink selvedge. With this it will be noticed that there is a decided difference between the right and wrong sides, the right side being very woolly. It is the flannel above all others most suitable for infants' and children's underclothing. At one time it was only made in Saxony, whence its name, but is now made also in England.
Nuns'-veiling is used largely now in the making of nightgowns, combinations, dressing-jackets, children's frocks, blouses, etc., and can be bought in either single or double width.
Wool and Cotton Mixtures. Under this heading come "shirting," besides many materials sold under specific names, used for dayshirts and underclothing, blouses, etc. To be continued.