Soiled muslins should be looked over and mended before being washed. Embroidered articles should be basted in exact shape upon a piece of flannel or other soft cloth. The muslin will be less liable to be frayed or torn by the weight of the needlework. Common laces should be folded evenly together into many thicknesses, and then basted through and through around the edges, with a fine needle and thread. Soak these various articles in warm water with Castile or olive soap in it. After a few hours, or the next day, squeeze them dry (never rub or wring them); put on more soap, pour on hot water, and let them stand another day. Then squeeze them dry, and •examine them. If they are not white, lay them loosely into a broad dish or platter, with warm suds in it, and set them in the sun a day or two; or, put them into a large white glass bottle, with a wide mouth, fill it with warm suds and set it in the sun. Turn the muslins over now and then, and also turn the bottle round, so as to give every side the benefit of the sun. This is a very good way where there is no grass-plot which can be used for bleaching. There can be no better way of whitening muslins than to dip the articles in soap suds, spread them on clean grass and let them lie two or three days and nights, wetting them once or twice a day with suds. When you take them from the grass, rinse them twice in a plenty of water, the last time with blueing in it. Squeeze them dry as possible, then dip all in fine starch, except those articles which should be very stiff, and they should be dried before being starched. Sort them, dip those which need most stiffness first, then add hot water enough to make the starch thinner for the next, and lastly still more, for dipping those which need very little stiffness. Hang them all out of doors to dry, unless the weather is cold enough to freeze. When dry, sprinkle them very wet, or squeeze them in cold water, pull them out a little, and lay them two or three double in a sheet - a linen one if they are to be ironed in an hour or two; a cotton one if they are not to be done till the next day - this, because they keep damp much longer in cotton than in linen. To wash elegant, expensive laces, sew a-piece of white flannel closely around a common junk bottle, and wind the lace round and round perfectly smooth, and with a fine needle and thread, baste it enough to keep it in place. If the lace is pointed, pass the needle and thread through each point; put the bottle into a jar or deep pitcher filled with warm suds. Change the water once a clay for two or three days then put the bottle into the boiler with the finest white clothes on washing day; as soon as it is taken from the boiler, and cooled a little, rinse it again and again in a plenty of cold water, then wrap a soft, dry towel around it to press out the water, and set it in the sun. "When the lace has become entirely dry, take out all the threads, unwind it, and wear it without starching.
Our grandmothers would have thought an elegant lace nearly spoilt by being washed in any other way than this, and a very nice way it is. Having once tried it, you will prefer to wash your laces yourself, rather than pay a French laundress for doing them not half as well.
When you iron muslins, pull them gently into shape, fold and lay them on a plate, and cover them with a bowl, to keep the edges from getting too dry. Have clean irons, and rub each one before using it with a bit of wax or spermaceti tied up in a piece of cotton, and wipe it on a clean rag. This is to prevent the starch from sticking to the iron. Lay the muslin upon the ironing board, the wrong side up, and always move the iron in the direction of the threads. The article will be out of shape, and look badly, if ironed diagonally. Bobbinet laces, if ironed at all, should be ironed diagonally, as in this way only can the mesh retain its shape. Dip them in stiff starch, and after drying them, dip them again, then pin them out upon a bed. They will dry soon, and will need only to be folded even, and a warm iron set upon them to press the folds flat. Whether pressed or not, they will look like new bobbinet, and this is a very convenient way when a lady is so situated that she cannot iron her own kerchiefs, or get them done to her liking by others.
To iron lace or edging, carefully pull into shape the points or scollops, and pearling; lay it the wrong side up with the wrought edge from you, pass the iron along the edge nearest you, and then, beginning at the right hand end, move it out from you. Do this the whole length, or a yard at a time, then adjust every part even, and pass the iron over it again and again until it is dry. Lay every piece, as you finish it, upon a waiter or dish, so that you will not have occasion to handle it again till you lay it in its place.
Needlework should be ironed upon clean flannel, and be long enough under the iron to dry it, as it will look ill if laid away damp. Iron it on the wrong side.
Wrought collars, so much worn as to be easily torn by being washed, if they are not badly soiled, may be squeezed out of cold water, rolled in a dry cloth for a few minutes, and then ironed. The same may be done with plain muslins that are only tumbled. Sometimes it is convenient to be able to produce a clean collar in a few minutes.
It is convenient to have a board expressly for ironing caps, collars, cuffs, laces, and other small articles. It should be about two feet long, a foot and a half wide, covered on one side with four or five thicknesses of cotton cloth sewed on tight and perfectly smooth, and covered with white flannel.