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Observe that it is free from dress, which is a preparation of lime employed by the manufacturers to make it of a better colour, as, if (as is often the case) the dressing is too high in proportion to the strength of the threads, it becomes rotten, tears, and wears badly, and after washing, is poor and thin, like canvass; choose your calico, therefore, undressed, for then you can more exactly judge of its quality and strength. It should be soft, without specks, and the threads and selvages even. It is often cheaper to buy the whole piece, if much is wanted, as a small allowance is made per yard. If a small quantity is wanted for a baby's caps, shirts, &c., it is often good economy to purchase remnants, fencings, or felts, by which means you sometimes get the best qualities for very low prices. Calico runs of various widths and qualities: the unbleached, or grey, is the best for shifts, boys' shirts, &c., for the lower orders, being warmer and stronger than the white. The following are the useful widths, with the general prices at the present time, though, of course, they are constantly varying. Unbleached calico, from 13 nails wide to 2 yards 4 nails, price from 4d. to 1s. 6d. Fine white calico for caps, aprons, &c., from 12 nails upwards to 13 yard, price from 4d, upwards. Stout calico, from 14 nails upwards to 3 yards wide, price from 8d. to 3s.
The Suffolk hemp is considered the best. The threads should be particularly even. The useful widths are from 134 nails to 16, for shirting. The common linen is sometimes as low as 8d, or 93d. per yard, and the best at 2s. 9d. or 3s. Linen should be scalded before it is cut out and made up, as it is too stiff to allow of its being sewn with ease.
Lawn is merely a finer quality of linen, and is sometimes used for the fronts of gentlemen's shirts, also for babies' night-caps, shirts, frilling, &c. Its width varies from 13 nails upwards, and the price from about 4s. to 8s.
Cambric is a finer sort of lawn. Its width is about three-quarters of a yard, and the price from 4s. to 12s.
The small check which is used for caps generally wears the best. Observe that the thin places between the checks are good, and the threads even. They are generally 14 yard wide, and from 9d. to 20d, or 2s. per yard.
This is very serviceable for aprons, and should be entirely linen, if wanted to wear well. It runs from 1 yard wide to 14 yard, and is from 3d. to 16d. per yard.
The cotton check answers very well for children's pinbefores, though not nearly so durable as the other. It is of various widths, and from 6d. to 1s. per yard.
PRINTs, CHINTZES, AND GINGHAMS.
These often wash very badly: if, therefore, you are buying a doubtful colour, it would be advisable to beg a piece as a pattern, and wash half of it, which, when compared with the other half, will shew at once whether the colours are fixed or not. They are better when the pattern is the same on both sides.
Dark and light blue, lilac, buff, bright brown, red, and pink are good wearing colours.
Green, chocolate, and violet are very fading colours. They vary in price from 3d. to 10d., or even 1s. The usual width for gowns is 11 nails. The width sold for aprons is 14 nails.
The Welsh is far superior to the Lancashire, and both washes and wears better; the latter is, however, cheaper. It is generally of a yellowish colour, while the Welsh is more of a blue grey.
Purchasing large quantities at the fairs at Welsh-Pool, Newtown, and other Welsh markets, is good economy, as several yards are often given in to the hundred. The common flannels for petticoats are 9d. to 14d. per yard, and the finer upwards, to 2s. or 3s. 8d.: they vary in width from 9 nails to 16. New flannel should be plunged in scalding water, and hung out to dry without wringing.
CLOTH. Cloth should be smooth, with a good nap. STUFFS.
Observe that they are evenly dyed, as they are often dashed. Hold them up to the light, that you may better judge of their quality. The black dye is apt to decay the stuff. Brown and dark green are particularly good wearing colours. Width from # and # yard, upwards. Price from 8d. to 2s.
Crape is often dashed and spotted, as it is a difficult article to take dye evenly. Have it spread over white before buying it, when you can more easily detect blemishes. The width is 1 yard, and the price 2s. to 4s. 6d. t
It should be soft and thick, unless for trimming caps, when a poorer kind may be used. When wanted for trimmings, satin should be cut crosswise.—(See the end of Chapter III.) It is from § yard to 10 nails wide, and from 2s. 6d. to 7s.6d.
Should not be too stiff, thin, or papery, as they are apt to tear or slit in the plaits and folds. See that they are soft, without specks or stains; and, as silk dresses turn well, and even dye afterwards, it would be advisable to have no wrong side—that is, the pattern equally good on both sides. They are generally 3 yard wide, though black silk of 1 yard in width can be bought for aprons.
In cheap silks, a kind of camel's hair is frequently woven to make them appear richer and thicker to the touch, but this is highly injurious to the silk, as it causes it to wear very ill, and cut in all the folds and creases. The way to detect the existence of camel hair in silks, is to take a little bit in the hand and pull it gently crossway, and if there be any camel hair interwoven with the silk it will spring back as if elastic, making a soft kind of whistling sound.
GENERAL RULES FOR CUTTING OUT.
* Waste not, want not."
ARTICLEs of clothing are measured by cloth measure.
4 nails – 1 quarter.
5 — — 1 English ell.
All linens, calicoes, &c., to be washed before cut out. All linens, including lawn, cambric, and Holland, should be cut by the thread. All calicoes, muslins, and flannels will tear, though the former, unless very stout, pull a good deal awry. All small articles, as gussets, should be cut, in preference to being torn. Cutting out whole sets of things together often prevents much waste; hence it is better to cut out six or twelve shirts at once, than only one at a time. Skirts, sleeves, wristbands, shoulder-straps, collars, waistbands, and every thing liable to be stretched in wearing, to be cut selvage-wise. Frills, flounces, and pieces fulled between bands, are usually cut the width way. Frills for caps are generally twice as long as the article they are to be frilled upon; three times is very full, and is sometimes used for neck frills. Linings of hats, bonnets, fronts, and backs of gowns, tippets, most women's collars, and every thing intended to set well and closely, of an irregular shape or surface, to be cut crosswise. Pipings and linings to broad hems always to be cut crosswise. In cutting crosswise, first fold the end of the piece like a half-handkerchief, so as to lay the raw edge evenly against the selvage side, and cut off the half square, from which cut the strips for piping, &c. To cut off a yard crosswise, measure a yard along each of the selvage sides, (after the half square has been cut off) crease it slantingly across, and cut it. Satins, velvets, and some silks, may be purchased cut the cross way, as well as the straight.
THE next thing which will come under our observation is the work-box, or basket, and of this it may be useful to say a few words, as much of the comfort of a good workwoman depends on the choice and arrangement of her tools (if they may be so termed) and materials. A work-box, or basket, should be large enough to hold a moderate supply of work and all its requisites, without being of such a size as to be inconvenient to carry about, or lift with ease. There should be in it divisions or partitions, as they assist in keeping it in order; but some persons are apt to run into the extreme of over-partitioning their boxes, which defeats its own purpose and becomes troublesome : this should be carefully avoided. A work-box should contain six or eight of the useful sized white reel sewing cottons, black cotton, and silks, white, black, and coloured, both round and for darning; a few useful tapes, bobbin, galloon, buttons of all kinds, including thread, pearl, metal, and black; also, hooks and eyes. An ample needlebook, containing a page of kerseymere for each sized needle, not omitting the darning, glove, stay, and worsted or carpet needles. . There are various kinds of scissors; the most useful are, A large pair, for cutting out linen; A medium size, for common use; A small pair with rounded points; A smaller pair with sharper points, for cutting out muslin work, &c.; Lace scissors with a flat knob at one of the points; Button-hole scissors. A pincushion, an emery cushion, a waxen reel for strengthening thread, a stiletto, bodkins, a thimble, a small knife, and a yard measure, made like a carpenter's foot rule, only with nails instead of inches marked upon it: for a further description of it, see explanation to Plate 24. These complete the list of things necessary for a good workwoman; other things, as shield, tweezers, which are often added, may be considered as superfluities. It is a good plan to fit up a square basket for the use of each working servant in the house, as for instance, the lady's-maid, the nurse, the house-maid, the laundry-maid. These baskets should vary sufficiently in form and size to be easily distinguished one from the other; the kind usually sold for babies' baskets is the most convenient, being large enough to hold plenty of work, and yet shallow, so as easily to search for things at the bottom. To these baskets should belong, a small tin box for buttons, hooks and eyes, bodkins, &c.; a large pair of scissors and sheath tied to each other, and fastened by a long string to the handle of the basket. A heavy pincushion, formed of a brick or piece of iron or lead, placed in a bag full of bran, padded with flannel, and covered over with print or calico. A large needle-book. A bag to contain tapes, silks, darning cottons, &c. It is advisable to mark the scissors-sheath, needle-book, pincushion, bag, and even basket, with the initial of the maid by whom it is used, as H. B. for house-maid's basket.
A rag bag is a desirable thing to have hung up in some conspicuous part of the house, into which all odd bits, and even shreds, of calico, print, linen, muslin, &c. should be put; as they are useful to come in when a gusset or chin stay, or other small article is wanting. Those bits too small for this purpose may still be used by school children, for practising stitches of needle-work upon; or, at all events, may be disposed of to the rag merchants, and thus prove of some value at last. Another family bag, for the purpose of containing stray tapes, or shoe strings, hooks, eyes, odd buttons, pieces of silk, or bits of ribbon, may be kept with advantage; especially where there is a large family of children, whose demands for these small articles are daily and constant.
THE following articles are necessary to be prepared for an infant's first dress, and are equally applicable (with some exceptions) to the poor as well as the rich, though the quality of the materials, of course, must differ. The average number of each article usually provided by ladies for an infant's wardrobe, may here be introduced with propriety, though they must vary according to circumstances. Persons to whom economy is a great object may find a much smaller stock answer as well, if they are able to send the linen often to the wash.
Shirts ........................................ 12 to 18 .... Plate 2 .... Fig. 23
Cloak or pelisse........................ 1 ... — 4 .... — 20, 21, 23