The Fabric of Life

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by Susan/Miranda

Three things to know about me (at least in relation to this blog):
1) I like words.
2) I like history.
3) I like textiles.

Textiles (you know, cloth) like Rodney Dangerfield, never getting no respect.  The more literary the fiction, the fewer words will be squandered on describing who wears what. Characters are dressed, or not dressed, and that’s about it.  Conversely, the most sniggering parodies of “lady writers” will inevitably include a detailed list of the heroine’s closet, complete with designers’ names.  (“She tossed her Blackberry into her Prada bag, along with her Marc Jacob sunglasses, Coach wallet, Cross pen, and Hermes scarf.”)

Historical fiction often gets the double whammy.  Too many adjectives will be used to describe too much clothing, but using modern words and woeful history.  I’ve already written here about the sad, inaccurate state of “historical” men’s shirts (a chorus, please, Kalen!), especially the ones make of silk that button down the front.  But the ladies seldom fare much better.  Think of all the Regency misses who wear high-waisted white cotton dress with puffed sleeves, which makes for boring writing and history.

There’s so much more that can be said about how a character dresses.  It’s how she presents herself toYellowregencydress_2
the world. (It’s how he does, too, but to save blog verbiage, I’ll stick to the ladies for now.)  It determines how she moves, even if she moves.  Dress can show a character’s rank, income, job, marital status, religious beliefs, and sensuality.  It can be a symbol of honor, or a brand of poverty, and it can reflect whether she’s a neatnik or a slob.  It can show political beliefs, or stunning insensitivity, whether she dresses to attract men, or rebuff them. 

It’s obvious that a lady in a jewel-studded brocade gown will move far differently than her maid in linsey-woolsey.  But even an 18th century farmer’s wife would have tucked up her skirts and secured them through the slits for her pockets to keep her best glazed-wool petticoat clear of the mud in her yard while doing chores, and nearly every woman of every rank would cover her “good” clothes with an apron while doing any slightly messy task.

An 18th century Englishman’s shirt would have been made of linen, with virtually no exceptions.  But was the gentleman supporting Irish manufactures with Irish linen?  Did he care for style over politics, and buy Holland linen smuggled into London past trade embargos against the Netherlands?  Or was he of the  lower class or  “middling sort”, who still relied on linen that was processed and sewn at home?  One tidy adjective can say so much.

Careless writers will always put the common folk in cotton, reflecting the modern price (and often contempt) of this fiber.  But in 1800, before the cotton gin, cotton could be costly, reflecting either its complicated manufacture or its import from India.  Complicating things further for historians, “cotton” was also used to describe a process that raised a fuzzy nap on woolen cloth (“cottoning”), so often cotton isn’t cotton at all, but wool.

Milliner_2
A late 18th-century woman looking over bolts or pieces of fabric in a shop would definitely have understood the differences.  She would know that ballasor, imported from India, was a cotton muslin suitable for her husband’s hankerchiefs, while  balzarine was a light-weight brocade for day gowns, a blend of worsted wool and cotton woven into fanciful patterns on a jacquard loom.  She would have requested beaverteen (a coarse, heavy, cotton twill with a thick pile) for her sons’ winter jackets.  She might have bought several lengths of Canterbury (an old-fashioned cotton brocade with a silk warp, named after the city where it was first woven) for a gown for her widowed mother-in-law.  She would have chosen jaconet (a thin woven cotton, between cambric and muslin) for infants’ clothes and caps, and perhaps a quantity of striped siamoise (a light but sturdy cloth, woven of linen and cotton) for summer slip coverings and bed hangings.  All cotton, yes, but all as different as can be, and while the fine distinctions between the fabrics may be lost to us, the words themselves are evocative of a different time.

Consider the textiles of the more recent past.  Dotted Swiss and cotton velveteen are forever the itchy,50s_girls
unyielding fabrics of Sunday dresses from my childhood.  Kettle cloth and wide-wale corduroy were what we all sewed into shift dresses and jumpers in Home Economics classes back in the 60s, when Home Ec was still Home Ec and not Family & Consumer Sciences.  The first of the slinky synthetic knits were appearing then, too, in Orlon, and in Banlon, that creepiest of all fabrics for men’s shirts. Say Quiana and Ultrasuede and polyester-double-knit, and it’s instantly the 70s.  Today it’s matte jersey and ramie and Tencel and Polarfleece, and Lycra laced through everything.  And just consider all the subtle variations today in cotton denim: sand-blasted, stone-washed, and double-dip-dyed, from snow to chambray to midnight.

So please, my fellow writers. I know that one writer’s (and reader’s) perfect telling historical
detail can be another’s "infodump" (and is there any more inelegant, disparaging
scrap of jargon than that?)  I’m not asking for the entire inventory of the dry goods store or milliners’ shop.  Just don’t call everything cotton!

I can’t leave historical textiles alone without mentioning the two best sources out there, for readers, writers, and collectors.  First is Textiles in America 1650-1870, by Florence M. Montgomery. Written by a curator of textiles at Winterthur thirty years ago, this has recently been reissued (though with a horrible cover).  While the title implies an American bias, most of the quotes from primary sources are English.  There’s an excellent glossary of textiles, and the photographs are most useful.  But textiles are a tactile pleasure as much as a visual and historical one, and for that the series of publications from costume historians Sally Queen Associates are unrivaled.  While smaller in scope, the spiral-bound pages of these books are illustrated with 3×3 swatches of actual fabric. (Think Pat the Bunny for historians.)  Available books in the series include the 18th century, Regency era, and Victorian.  The next time you read about nankeen, you’ll KNOW what it feels like.

Any other fabric-lovers out there that have to touch everything? Do heroes in silk shirts bug you, too, or do you think I’m being hopelessly picky?  And did anyone else struggle through sewing classes in high school, or do you still find pleasure in turning a length of cloth into something to wear?

115 thoughts on “The Fabric of Life”

  1. I strongly recommend: Margaret Spufford, The Great Reclothing of Rural England: Petty Chapmen and their Wares in the Seventeenth Century (London: The Hambledon Press, 1984).
    It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen, and how the various uses of such fabric ended up with the English using “nappies” and the Americans “diapers” for the same useful item.
    It covers such interesting items as how cloth in this period became sufficiently inexpensive that even cottagers could buy yards of it for such “not absolutely essential” items as window curtains and tablecloths.

    Reply
  2. I strongly recommend: Margaret Spufford, The Great Reclothing of Rural England: Petty Chapmen and their Wares in the Seventeenth Century (London: The Hambledon Press, 1984).
    It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen, and how the various uses of such fabric ended up with the English using “nappies” and the Americans “diapers” for the same useful item.
    It covers such interesting items as how cloth in this period became sufficiently inexpensive that even cottagers could buy yards of it for such “not absolutely essential” items as window curtains and tablecloths.

    Reply
  3. I strongly recommend: Margaret Spufford, The Great Reclothing of Rural England: Petty Chapmen and their Wares in the Seventeenth Century (London: The Hambledon Press, 1984).
    It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen, and how the various uses of such fabric ended up with the English using “nappies” and the Americans “diapers” for the same useful item.
    It covers such interesting items as how cloth in this period became sufficiently inexpensive that even cottagers could buy yards of it for such “not absolutely essential” items as window curtains and tablecloths.

    Reply
  4. I strongly recommend: Margaret Spufford, The Great Reclothing of Rural England: Petty Chapmen and their Wares in the Seventeenth Century (London: The Hambledon Press, 1984).
    It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen, and how the various uses of such fabric ended up with the English using “nappies” and the Americans “diapers” for the same useful item.
    It covers such interesting items as how cloth in this period became sufficiently inexpensive that even cottagers could buy yards of it for such “not absolutely essential” items as window curtains and tablecloths.

    Reply
  5. I strongly recommend: Margaret Spufford, The Great Reclothing of Rural England: Petty Chapmen and their Wares in the Seventeenth Century (London: The Hambledon Press, 1984).
    It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen, and how the various uses of such fabric ended up with the English using “nappies” and the Americans “diapers” for the same useful item.
    It covers such interesting items as how cloth in this period became sufficiently inexpensive that even cottagers could buy yards of it for such “not absolutely essential” items as window curtains and tablecloths.

    Reply
  6. I love textiles, but that’s no surprise. I gave a workshop a couple of years ago for the Beau Monde chapter of RWA on Georgian Fabrics. I even made books of swatches for it! I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story. It’s one of those fine-line things . . .

    Reply
  7. I love textiles, but that’s no surprise. I gave a workshop a couple of years ago for the Beau Monde chapter of RWA on Georgian Fabrics. I even made books of swatches for it! I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story. It’s one of those fine-line things . . .

    Reply
  8. I love textiles, but that’s no surprise. I gave a workshop a couple of years ago for the Beau Monde chapter of RWA on Georgian Fabrics. I even made books of swatches for it! I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story. It’s one of those fine-line things . . .

    Reply
  9. I love textiles, but that’s no surprise. I gave a workshop a couple of years ago for the Beau Monde chapter of RWA on Georgian Fabrics. I even made books of swatches for it! I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story. It’s one of those fine-line things . . .

    Reply
  10. I love textiles, but that’s no surprise. I gave a workshop a couple of years ago for the Beau Monde chapter of RWA on Georgian Fabrics. I even made books of swatches for it! I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story. It’s one of those fine-line things . . .

    Reply
  11. Not a textile lover, me, and so when I see a word I don’t know used to “describe” a fabric I Am Not Amused. But one reader’s poison is another’s tipple of choice, and if the writer can slip in the definition without looking too pedantic, I’m always happy to learn something… though these days I’m likely to forget it before I turn the page! In general, however, descriptions of the color and cut of the garment do more for me than a description of the stuff it’s made of.
    Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah! Unless a button is hanging by a thread, the material of the garment would tear before a button would come off, and I’m sure you textile-loving types all realize that and never ever entertain such a cliche in your own work. So I can only hope the offending authors will read this and Know Who They Are.
    Whew… glad to get THAT off my cotton-shirted chest!

    Reply
  12. Not a textile lover, me, and so when I see a word I don’t know used to “describe” a fabric I Am Not Amused. But one reader’s poison is another’s tipple of choice, and if the writer can slip in the definition without looking too pedantic, I’m always happy to learn something… though these days I’m likely to forget it before I turn the page! In general, however, descriptions of the color and cut of the garment do more for me than a description of the stuff it’s made of.
    Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah! Unless a button is hanging by a thread, the material of the garment would tear before a button would come off, and I’m sure you textile-loving types all realize that and never ever entertain such a cliche in your own work. So I can only hope the offending authors will read this and Know Who They Are.
    Whew… glad to get THAT off my cotton-shirted chest!

    Reply
  13. Not a textile lover, me, and so when I see a word I don’t know used to “describe” a fabric I Am Not Amused. But one reader’s poison is another’s tipple of choice, and if the writer can slip in the definition without looking too pedantic, I’m always happy to learn something… though these days I’m likely to forget it before I turn the page! In general, however, descriptions of the color and cut of the garment do more for me than a description of the stuff it’s made of.
    Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah! Unless a button is hanging by a thread, the material of the garment would tear before a button would come off, and I’m sure you textile-loving types all realize that and never ever entertain such a cliche in your own work. So I can only hope the offending authors will read this and Know Who They Are.
    Whew… glad to get THAT off my cotton-shirted chest!

    Reply
  14. Not a textile lover, me, and so when I see a word I don’t know used to “describe” a fabric I Am Not Amused. But one reader’s poison is another’s tipple of choice, and if the writer can slip in the definition without looking too pedantic, I’m always happy to learn something… though these days I’m likely to forget it before I turn the page! In general, however, descriptions of the color and cut of the garment do more for me than a description of the stuff it’s made of.
    Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah! Unless a button is hanging by a thread, the material of the garment would tear before a button would come off, and I’m sure you textile-loving types all realize that and never ever entertain such a cliche in your own work. So I can only hope the offending authors will read this and Know Who They Are.
    Whew… glad to get THAT off my cotton-shirted chest!

    Reply
  15. Not a textile lover, me, and so when I see a word I don’t know used to “describe” a fabric I Am Not Amused. But one reader’s poison is another’s tipple of choice, and if the writer can slip in the definition without looking too pedantic, I’m always happy to learn something… though these days I’m likely to forget it before I turn the page! In general, however, descriptions of the color and cut of the garment do more for me than a description of the stuff it’s made of.
    Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah! Unless a button is hanging by a thread, the material of the garment would tear before a button would come off, and I’m sure you textile-loving types all realize that and never ever entertain such a cliche in your own work. So I can only hope the offending authors will read this and Know Who They Are.
    Whew… glad to get THAT off my cotton-shirted chest!

    Reply
  16. I love walking through a fabric store, stroking the textures. That said, I also did Home Ec by buying the exact material the teacher had forbidden us to use. Contrary is my nature.
    I’m aware of the difficulty of choosing the right word for the right character at the right time, but I’m jaded. I just don’t think today’s readers care enough, not in romance, at least. And I’ve had complaints with the Regencies because readers really don’t know what sarcenet is. So if I have to decide between describing the fabric or calling it linen/cotton/silk, I’ll take the easy route unless it’s imperative to the story. Sorry!

    Reply
  17. I love walking through a fabric store, stroking the textures. That said, I also did Home Ec by buying the exact material the teacher had forbidden us to use. Contrary is my nature.
    I’m aware of the difficulty of choosing the right word for the right character at the right time, but I’m jaded. I just don’t think today’s readers care enough, not in romance, at least. And I’ve had complaints with the Regencies because readers really don’t know what sarcenet is. So if I have to decide between describing the fabric or calling it linen/cotton/silk, I’ll take the easy route unless it’s imperative to the story. Sorry!

    Reply
  18. I love walking through a fabric store, stroking the textures. That said, I also did Home Ec by buying the exact material the teacher had forbidden us to use. Contrary is my nature.
    I’m aware of the difficulty of choosing the right word for the right character at the right time, but I’m jaded. I just don’t think today’s readers care enough, not in romance, at least. And I’ve had complaints with the Regencies because readers really don’t know what sarcenet is. So if I have to decide between describing the fabric or calling it linen/cotton/silk, I’ll take the easy route unless it’s imperative to the story. Sorry!

    Reply
  19. I love walking through a fabric store, stroking the textures. That said, I also did Home Ec by buying the exact material the teacher had forbidden us to use. Contrary is my nature.
    I’m aware of the difficulty of choosing the right word for the right character at the right time, but I’m jaded. I just don’t think today’s readers care enough, not in romance, at least. And I’ve had complaints with the Regencies because readers really don’t know what sarcenet is. So if I have to decide between describing the fabric or calling it linen/cotton/silk, I’ll take the easy route unless it’s imperative to the story. Sorry!

    Reply
  20. I love walking through a fabric store, stroking the textures. That said, I also did Home Ec by buying the exact material the teacher had forbidden us to use. Contrary is my nature.
    I’m aware of the difficulty of choosing the right word for the right character at the right time, but I’m jaded. I just don’t think today’s readers care enough, not in romance, at least. And I’ve had complaints with the Regencies because readers really don’t know what sarcenet is. So if I have to decide between describing the fabric or calling it linen/cotton/silk, I’ll take the easy route unless it’s imperative to the story. Sorry!

    Reply
  21. Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress. I could not have picked a more complicated pattern for a final project, but I was eleven—what did I know?
    I love fabric, but alas, cannot sew except to do useless ornamental embroidery. But I am tactile, and love to get lost in a craft store and touch every bolt of cloth. I’d love to get my hands all over museum clothing, which would of course ruin everything.

    Reply
  22. Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress. I could not have picked a more complicated pattern for a final project, but I was eleven—what did I know?
    I love fabric, but alas, cannot sew except to do useless ornamental embroidery. But I am tactile, and love to get lost in a craft store and touch every bolt of cloth. I’d love to get my hands all over museum clothing, which would of course ruin everything.

    Reply
  23. Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress. I could not have picked a more complicated pattern for a final project, but I was eleven—what did I know?
    I love fabric, but alas, cannot sew except to do useless ornamental embroidery. But I am tactile, and love to get lost in a craft store and touch every bolt of cloth. I’d love to get my hands all over museum clothing, which would of course ruin everything.

    Reply
  24. Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress. I could not have picked a more complicated pattern for a final project, but I was eleven—what did I know?
    I love fabric, but alas, cannot sew except to do useless ornamental embroidery. But I am tactile, and love to get lost in a craft store and touch every bolt of cloth. I’d love to get my hands all over museum clothing, which would of course ruin everything.

    Reply
  25. Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress. I could not have picked a more complicated pattern for a final project, but I was eleven—what did I know?
    I love fabric, but alas, cannot sew except to do useless ornamental embroidery. But I am tactile, and love to get lost in a craft store and touch every bolt of cloth. I’d love to get my hands all over museum clothing, which would of course ruin everything.

    Reply
  26. Thank you, Susan/Miranda, for not mentioning moleskin in its various incarnations!
    One source I find useful is Dover Publications’ series of historical paper dolls and coloring books, ranging from the ancient Etruscans to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Most are done by Tom Tierney. There’s even a book of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE paper dolls, where you get to see Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s undies. Woot!
    I have a very poor visual imagination (possibly as a side effect of being terribly myopic), so a lot of the descriptions in books pass me by. The very carefully researched paper dolls are a real help to me. And one of the books on either Regency or Empire style (much the same thing anyway) has all sorts of sketches of assortments of hats, cravats, shoes, hairstyles, etc. for both men and women.
    I hope the Tigress will weigh in on this, as she has considerable expertise in fabrics (though mostly in the Roman/British era, I believe).

    Reply
  27. Thank you, Susan/Miranda, for not mentioning moleskin in its various incarnations!
    One source I find useful is Dover Publications’ series of historical paper dolls and coloring books, ranging from the ancient Etruscans to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Most are done by Tom Tierney. There’s even a book of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE paper dolls, where you get to see Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s undies. Woot!
    I have a very poor visual imagination (possibly as a side effect of being terribly myopic), so a lot of the descriptions in books pass me by. The very carefully researched paper dolls are a real help to me. And one of the books on either Regency or Empire style (much the same thing anyway) has all sorts of sketches of assortments of hats, cravats, shoes, hairstyles, etc. for both men and women.
    I hope the Tigress will weigh in on this, as she has considerable expertise in fabrics (though mostly in the Roman/British era, I believe).

    Reply
  28. Thank you, Susan/Miranda, for not mentioning moleskin in its various incarnations!
    One source I find useful is Dover Publications’ series of historical paper dolls and coloring books, ranging from the ancient Etruscans to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Most are done by Tom Tierney. There’s even a book of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE paper dolls, where you get to see Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s undies. Woot!
    I have a very poor visual imagination (possibly as a side effect of being terribly myopic), so a lot of the descriptions in books pass me by. The very carefully researched paper dolls are a real help to me. And one of the books on either Regency or Empire style (much the same thing anyway) has all sorts of sketches of assortments of hats, cravats, shoes, hairstyles, etc. for both men and women.
    I hope the Tigress will weigh in on this, as she has considerable expertise in fabrics (though mostly in the Roman/British era, I believe).

    Reply
  29. Thank you, Susan/Miranda, for not mentioning moleskin in its various incarnations!
    One source I find useful is Dover Publications’ series of historical paper dolls and coloring books, ranging from the ancient Etruscans to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Most are done by Tom Tierney. There’s even a book of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE paper dolls, where you get to see Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s undies. Woot!
    I have a very poor visual imagination (possibly as a side effect of being terribly myopic), so a lot of the descriptions in books pass me by. The very carefully researched paper dolls are a real help to me. And one of the books on either Regency or Empire style (much the same thing anyway) has all sorts of sketches of assortments of hats, cravats, shoes, hairstyles, etc. for both men and women.
    I hope the Tigress will weigh in on this, as she has considerable expertise in fabrics (though mostly in the Roman/British era, I believe).

    Reply
  30. Thank you, Susan/Miranda, for not mentioning moleskin in its various incarnations!
    One source I find useful is Dover Publications’ series of historical paper dolls and coloring books, ranging from the ancient Etruscans to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Most are done by Tom Tierney. There’s even a book of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE paper dolls, where you get to see Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s undies. Woot!
    I have a very poor visual imagination (possibly as a side effect of being terribly myopic), so a lot of the descriptions in books pass me by. The very carefully researched paper dolls are a real help to me. And one of the books on either Regency or Empire style (much the same thing anyway) has all sorts of sketches of assortments of hats, cravats, shoes, hairstyles, etc. for both men and women.
    I hope the Tigress will weigh in on this, as she has considerable expertise in fabrics (though mostly in the Roman/British era, I believe).

    Reply
  31. I, too, was aware that cotton was expensive before Eli Whitney invented the gin…One thing that is rarely mentioned in novels is the re-use of clothing- both as hand-me downs in a family, and as a source for those of lesser means. Modern young women are so used to the availability of inexpensive garments that I can often tell the age of the author by the number of changes of clothing her heroine has…:D Seriously, do you remember the totally depressing wardrobe of Jane Eyre? My daughter is the sewer/crafter in the family, and she had a lovely book on lace. Did you know pieces were handed down like jewelry? And it was nearly as expensive, because it was handmade. A heroine of modest means would never have had lace trim on her gowns, let alone on her lingerie- it would be like wearing diamonds to bed…

    Reply
  32. I, too, was aware that cotton was expensive before Eli Whitney invented the gin…One thing that is rarely mentioned in novels is the re-use of clothing- both as hand-me downs in a family, and as a source for those of lesser means. Modern young women are so used to the availability of inexpensive garments that I can often tell the age of the author by the number of changes of clothing her heroine has…:D Seriously, do you remember the totally depressing wardrobe of Jane Eyre? My daughter is the sewer/crafter in the family, and she had a lovely book on lace. Did you know pieces were handed down like jewelry? And it was nearly as expensive, because it was handmade. A heroine of modest means would never have had lace trim on her gowns, let alone on her lingerie- it would be like wearing diamonds to bed…

    Reply
  33. I, too, was aware that cotton was expensive before Eli Whitney invented the gin…One thing that is rarely mentioned in novels is the re-use of clothing- both as hand-me downs in a family, and as a source for those of lesser means. Modern young women are so used to the availability of inexpensive garments that I can often tell the age of the author by the number of changes of clothing her heroine has…:D Seriously, do you remember the totally depressing wardrobe of Jane Eyre? My daughter is the sewer/crafter in the family, and she had a lovely book on lace. Did you know pieces were handed down like jewelry? And it was nearly as expensive, because it was handmade. A heroine of modest means would never have had lace trim on her gowns, let alone on her lingerie- it would be like wearing diamonds to bed…

    Reply
  34. I, too, was aware that cotton was expensive before Eli Whitney invented the gin…One thing that is rarely mentioned in novels is the re-use of clothing- both as hand-me downs in a family, and as a source for those of lesser means. Modern young women are so used to the availability of inexpensive garments that I can often tell the age of the author by the number of changes of clothing her heroine has…:D Seriously, do you remember the totally depressing wardrobe of Jane Eyre? My daughter is the sewer/crafter in the family, and she had a lovely book on lace. Did you know pieces were handed down like jewelry? And it was nearly as expensive, because it was handmade. A heroine of modest means would never have had lace trim on her gowns, let alone on her lingerie- it would be like wearing diamonds to bed…

    Reply
  35. I, too, was aware that cotton was expensive before Eli Whitney invented the gin…One thing that is rarely mentioned in novels is the re-use of clothing- both as hand-me downs in a family, and as a source for those of lesser means. Modern young women are so used to the availability of inexpensive garments that I can often tell the age of the author by the number of changes of clothing her heroine has…:D Seriously, do you remember the totally depressing wardrobe of Jane Eyre? My daughter is the sewer/crafter in the family, and she had a lovely book on lace. Did you know pieces were handed down like jewelry? And it was nearly as expensive, because it was handmade. A heroine of modest means would never have had lace trim on her gowns, let alone on her lingerie- it would be like wearing diamonds to bed…

    Reply
  36. I can spend days in a fabric/craft store. I didn’t much care for Home Ec in Jr Hi, but once I got out of that class, I went back to making my own clothes. And, once I married, I made many of my children’s clothing, too.
    Although I love fabrics and textiles, I also understand that some Regency readers don’t have any idea what the different materials were – and many don’t care, so I tend to describe in terms of color and feel. And, I’ve never put my hero in a silk shirt!

    Reply
  37. I can spend days in a fabric/craft store. I didn’t much care for Home Ec in Jr Hi, but once I got out of that class, I went back to making my own clothes. And, once I married, I made many of my children’s clothing, too.
    Although I love fabrics and textiles, I also understand that some Regency readers don’t have any idea what the different materials were – and many don’t care, so I tend to describe in terms of color and feel. And, I’ve never put my hero in a silk shirt!

    Reply
  38. I can spend days in a fabric/craft store. I didn’t much care for Home Ec in Jr Hi, but once I got out of that class, I went back to making my own clothes. And, once I married, I made many of my children’s clothing, too.
    Although I love fabrics and textiles, I also understand that some Regency readers don’t have any idea what the different materials were – and many don’t care, so I tend to describe in terms of color and feel. And, I’ve never put my hero in a silk shirt!

    Reply
  39. I can spend days in a fabric/craft store. I didn’t much care for Home Ec in Jr Hi, but once I got out of that class, I went back to making my own clothes. And, once I married, I made many of my children’s clothing, too.
    Although I love fabrics and textiles, I also understand that some Regency readers don’t have any idea what the different materials were – and many don’t care, so I tend to describe in terms of color and feel. And, I’ve never put my hero in a silk shirt!

    Reply
  40. I can spend days in a fabric/craft store. I didn’t much care for Home Ec in Jr Hi, but once I got out of that class, I went back to making my own clothes. And, once I married, I made many of my children’s clothing, too.
    Although I love fabrics and textiles, I also understand that some Regency readers don’t have any idea what the different materials were – and many don’t care, so I tend to describe in terms of color and feel. And, I’ve never put my hero in a silk shirt!

    Reply
  41. Thanks for all this info! I love the mention of old-fashioned textiles in historical novels. In fact, I love any kind of detail that makes history come alive. I’m particularly fascinated by accessories. I visited the Bath Fashion Museum last October and was totally blown away by their exhibit of 17th Century gloves.

    Reply
  42. Thanks for all this info! I love the mention of old-fashioned textiles in historical novels. In fact, I love any kind of detail that makes history come alive. I’m particularly fascinated by accessories. I visited the Bath Fashion Museum last October and was totally blown away by their exhibit of 17th Century gloves.

    Reply
  43. Thanks for all this info! I love the mention of old-fashioned textiles in historical novels. In fact, I love any kind of detail that makes history come alive. I’m particularly fascinated by accessories. I visited the Bath Fashion Museum last October and was totally blown away by their exhibit of 17th Century gloves.

    Reply
  44. Thanks for all this info! I love the mention of old-fashioned textiles in historical novels. In fact, I love any kind of detail that makes history come alive. I’m particularly fascinated by accessories. I visited the Bath Fashion Museum last October and was totally blown away by their exhibit of 17th Century gloves.

    Reply
  45. Thanks for all this info! I love the mention of old-fashioned textiles in historical novels. In fact, I love any kind of detail that makes history come alive. I’m particularly fascinated by accessories. I visited the Bath Fashion Museum last October and was totally blown away by their exhibit of 17th Century gloves.

    Reply
  46. Virginia wrote: “It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen”
    There are lots of words like this that derive from various now-forgotten origins. “Chintzy” is another one from textiles, used now for cheap, and in fact chintz fabric was originally a cotton with a glazed finish to imitate a more costly silk.
    I’ll have to look for your Spufford book, Virginia — sounds right up my alley!
    Kalen wrote: “I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story.”
    I know, it IS one of those fine-line things. If I use a word like this that’s likely to be unknown to modern readers, I always try to use one of those writer-tricks to explain it — like having it explained by a shopkeeper or dressmaker, or having one less-fashionable or foreign character describe it to another. It’s a real challenge, becuase you don’t ever want a reader to feel foolish or dumb, but if you make it work, then it’s SO worth it — one word can go a long way towards creating that alternate universe. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  47. Virginia wrote: “It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen”
    There are lots of words like this that derive from various now-forgotten origins. “Chintzy” is another one from textiles, used now for cheap, and in fact chintz fabric was originally a cotton with a glazed finish to imitate a more costly silk.
    I’ll have to look for your Spufford book, Virginia — sounds right up my alley!
    Kalen wrote: “I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story.”
    I know, it IS one of those fine-line things. If I use a word like this that’s likely to be unknown to modern readers, I always try to use one of those writer-tricks to explain it — like having it explained by a shopkeeper or dressmaker, or having one less-fashionable or foreign character describe it to another. It’s a real challenge, becuase you don’t ever want a reader to feel foolish or dumb, but if you make it work, then it’s SO worth it — one word can go a long way towards creating that alternate universe. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  48. Virginia wrote: “It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen”
    There are lots of words like this that derive from various now-forgotten origins. “Chintzy” is another one from textiles, used now for cheap, and in fact chintz fabric was originally a cotton with a glazed finish to imitate a more costly silk.
    I’ll have to look for your Spufford book, Virginia — sounds right up my alley!
    Kalen wrote: “I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story.”
    I know, it IS one of those fine-line things. If I use a word like this that’s likely to be unknown to modern readers, I always try to use one of those writer-tricks to explain it — like having it explained by a shopkeeper or dressmaker, or having one less-fashionable or foreign character describe it to another. It’s a real challenge, becuase you don’t ever want a reader to feel foolish or dumb, but if you make it work, then it’s SO worth it — one word can go a long way towards creating that alternate universe. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  49. Virginia wrote: “It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen”
    There are lots of words like this that derive from various now-forgotten origins. “Chintzy” is another one from textiles, used now for cheap, and in fact chintz fabric was originally a cotton with a glazed finish to imitate a more costly silk.
    I’ll have to look for your Spufford book, Virginia — sounds right up my alley!
    Kalen wrote: “I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story.”
    I know, it IS one of those fine-line things. If I use a word like this that’s likely to be unknown to modern readers, I always try to use one of those writer-tricks to explain it — like having it explained by a shopkeeper or dressmaker, or having one less-fashionable or foreign character describe it to another. It’s a real challenge, becuase you don’t ever want a reader to feel foolish or dumb, but if you make it work, then it’s SO worth it — one word can go a long way towards creating that alternate universe. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  50. Virginia wrote: “It has a wonderful discussion of the relationship of the word “sleazy” to loosely-woven imported Silesian linen”
    There are lots of words like this that derive from various now-forgotten origins. “Chintzy” is another one from textiles, used now for cheap, and in fact chintz fabric was originally a cotton with a glazed finish to imitate a more costly silk.
    I’ll have to look for your Spufford book, Virginia — sounds right up my alley!
    Kalen wrote: “I love to use period names for fabrics in my descriptions, but I sometimes wonder if that leaves readers feeling slapped or info-dumped or just plain pushed out of the story.”
    I know, it IS one of those fine-line things. If I use a word like this that’s likely to be unknown to modern readers, I always try to use one of those writer-tricks to explain it — like having it explained by a shopkeeper or dressmaker, or having one less-fashionable or foreign character describe it to another. It’s a real challenge, becuase you don’t ever want a reader to feel foolish or dumb, but if you make it work, then it’s SO worth it — one word can go a long way towards creating that alternate universe. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  51. In historicals, I like to have the garments described for me so I can better picure the characters. I have always loved fabrics since I grew up making my own clothes and I learned to make Pieced Quilts. And when I go shopping, I can’t resist feeling the fabrics in clothing.

    Reply
  52. In historicals, I like to have the garments described for me so I can better picure the characters. I have always loved fabrics since I grew up making my own clothes and I learned to make Pieced Quilts. And when I go shopping, I can’t resist feeling the fabrics in clothing.

    Reply
  53. In historicals, I like to have the garments described for me so I can better picure the characters. I have always loved fabrics since I grew up making my own clothes and I learned to make Pieced Quilts. And when I go shopping, I can’t resist feeling the fabrics in clothing.

    Reply
  54. In historicals, I like to have the garments described for me so I can better picure the characters. I have always loved fabrics since I grew up making my own clothes and I learned to make Pieced Quilts. And when I go shopping, I can’t resist feeling the fabrics in clothing.

    Reply
  55. In historicals, I like to have the garments described for me so I can better picure the characters. I have always loved fabrics since I grew up making my own clothes and I learned to make Pieced Quilts. And when I go shopping, I can’t resist feeling the fabrics in clothing.

    Reply
  56. Elaine wrote: “Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah!”
    LOL! You are so right , Elaine. Buttons don’t fly off, especially not when they’re sewn on with thread-shanks, the way they would have been Back Then. Those puppies were never coming off, no matter how passionate things got. So whoever you Offending Authors are, cease and desist. *G*
    Maggie wrote: “Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress.”
    Well, I’m on the other side of cheating on this one: my daughter (whose gifts lie in a mean game of ice hockey instead of sewing) hadn’t finished her dress for Fashion Design aka Sewing, and I was the one who finished it for her.
    I used to sew all the time, making virtually all my clothes, but now it’s cheaper to buy them. A lot less stressful, too. But the lure of fabrics, of touching all the different fibers and textures, still remains….
    Tal, You’re welcome for no mention of moleskin — though of course it’s not really the skin of moles, so I could have gambled. *g* And I hope the Tigress does weigh in, because I know zilch about ancient fabric.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  57. Elaine wrote: “Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah!”
    LOL! You are so right , Elaine. Buttons don’t fly off, especially not when they’re sewn on with thread-shanks, the way they would have been Back Then. Those puppies were never coming off, no matter how passionate things got. So whoever you Offending Authors are, cease and desist. *G*
    Maggie wrote: “Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress.”
    Well, I’m on the other side of cheating on this one: my daughter (whose gifts lie in a mean game of ice hockey instead of sewing) hadn’t finished her dress for Fashion Design aka Sewing, and I was the one who finished it for her.
    I used to sew all the time, making virtually all my clothes, but now it’s cheaper to buy them. A lot less stressful, too. But the lure of fabrics, of touching all the different fibers and textures, still remains….
    Tal, You’re welcome for no mention of moleskin — though of course it’s not really the skin of moles, so I could have gambled. *g* And I hope the Tigress does weigh in, because I know zilch about ancient fabric.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  58. Elaine wrote: “Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah!”
    LOL! You are so right , Elaine. Buttons don’t fly off, especially not when they’re sewn on with thread-shanks, the way they would have been Back Then. Those puppies were never coming off, no matter how passionate things got. So whoever you Offending Authors are, cease and desist. *G*
    Maggie wrote: “Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress.”
    Well, I’m on the other side of cheating on this one: my daughter (whose gifts lie in a mean game of ice hockey instead of sewing) hadn’t finished her dress for Fashion Design aka Sewing, and I was the one who finished it for her.
    I used to sew all the time, making virtually all my clothes, but now it’s cheaper to buy them. A lot less stressful, too. But the lure of fabrics, of touching all the different fibers and textures, still remains….
    Tal, You’re welcome for no mention of moleskin — though of course it’s not really the skin of moles, so I could have gambled. *g* And I hope the Tigress does weigh in, because I know zilch about ancient fabric.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  59. Elaine wrote: “Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah!”
    LOL! You are so right , Elaine. Buttons don’t fly off, especially not when they’re sewn on with thread-shanks, the way they would have been Back Then. Those puppies were never coming off, no matter how passionate things got. So whoever you Offending Authors are, cease and desist. *G*
    Maggie wrote: “Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress.”
    Well, I’m on the other side of cheating on this one: my daughter (whose gifts lie in a mean game of ice hockey instead of sewing) hadn’t finished her dress for Fashion Design aka Sewing, and I was the one who finished it for her.
    I used to sew all the time, making virtually all my clothes, but now it’s cheaper to buy them. A lot less stressful, too. But the lure of fabrics, of touching all the different fibers and textures, still remains….
    Tal, You’re welcome for no mention of moleskin — though of course it’s not really the skin of moles, so I could have gambled. *g* And I hope the Tigress does weigh in, because I know zilch about ancient fabric.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  60. Elaine wrote: “Tell ya one thing that drives me NUTS though, and that is when the urgency of the H&H’s desire is demonstrated by saying that their buttons are flying into the corners of the room. Hah!”
    LOL! You are so right , Elaine. Buttons don’t fly off, especially not when they’re sewn on with thread-shanks, the way they would have been Back Then. Those puppies were never coming off, no matter how passionate things got. So whoever you Offending Authors are, cease and desist. *G*
    Maggie wrote: “Home Ec was the only class I cheated in. My mother finished sewing my pink polished-cotton pleated shirtwaist dress.”
    Well, I’m on the other side of cheating on this one: my daughter (whose gifts lie in a mean game of ice hockey instead of sewing) hadn’t finished her dress for Fashion Design aka Sewing, and I was the one who finished it for her.
    I used to sew all the time, making virtually all my clothes, but now it’s cheaper to buy them. A lot less stressful, too. But the lure of fabrics, of touching all the different fibers and textures, still remains….
    Tal, You’re welcome for no mention of moleskin — though of course it’s not really the skin of moles, so I could have gambled. *g* And I hope the Tigress does weigh in, because I know zilch about ancient fabric.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  61. Susan/Miranda, the original moleskin WAS the skin of moles–there’s a character in a moleskin waistcoat that flits through one of Heyer’s novels. It was popular because it was like velvet; the fur did not have a directional lay.
    Still later there was a heavy cotton fabric called by the same name. It was also called “fustian,” and the adjective “fusty” comes from the way it smelled!
    Later came the Dr. Scholl’s variety (which was the only things Janet Leigh wore during the shower scene of PSYCHO); and now the current version: A cotton or synthetic twill fabric that has a warm, brushed hand.

    Reply
  62. Susan/Miranda, the original moleskin WAS the skin of moles–there’s a character in a moleskin waistcoat that flits through one of Heyer’s novels. It was popular because it was like velvet; the fur did not have a directional lay.
    Still later there was a heavy cotton fabric called by the same name. It was also called “fustian,” and the adjective “fusty” comes from the way it smelled!
    Later came the Dr. Scholl’s variety (which was the only things Janet Leigh wore during the shower scene of PSYCHO); and now the current version: A cotton or synthetic twill fabric that has a warm, brushed hand.

    Reply
  63. Susan/Miranda, the original moleskin WAS the skin of moles–there’s a character in a moleskin waistcoat that flits through one of Heyer’s novels. It was popular because it was like velvet; the fur did not have a directional lay.
    Still later there was a heavy cotton fabric called by the same name. It was also called “fustian,” and the adjective “fusty” comes from the way it smelled!
    Later came the Dr. Scholl’s variety (which was the only things Janet Leigh wore during the shower scene of PSYCHO); and now the current version: A cotton or synthetic twill fabric that has a warm, brushed hand.

    Reply
  64. Susan/Miranda, the original moleskin WAS the skin of moles–there’s a character in a moleskin waistcoat that flits through one of Heyer’s novels. It was popular because it was like velvet; the fur did not have a directional lay.
    Still later there was a heavy cotton fabric called by the same name. It was also called “fustian,” and the adjective “fusty” comes from the way it smelled!
    Later came the Dr. Scholl’s variety (which was the only things Janet Leigh wore during the shower scene of PSYCHO); and now the current version: A cotton or synthetic twill fabric that has a warm, brushed hand.

    Reply
  65. Susan/Miranda, the original moleskin WAS the skin of moles–there’s a character in a moleskin waistcoat that flits through one of Heyer’s novels. It was popular because it was like velvet; the fur did not have a directional lay.
    Still later there was a heavy cotton fabric called by the same name. It was also called “fustian,” and the adjective “fusty” comes from the way it smelled!
    Later came the Dr. Scholl’s variety (which was the only things Janet Leigh wore during the shower scene of PSYCHO); and now the current version: A cotton or synthetic twill fabric that has a warm, brushed hand.

    Reply
  66. Tal, I don’t know if this is good news or bad, but I don’t believe the term “moleskin” ever referred to the real pelts of moles. I checked with all my usual dusty tomes, and the internet as well, and even in the middle ages, the term when used in reference to clothing always seems to mean a heavy cotton twill, brushed (or “teasled”, which sounds much more interesting!) to develop a fuzzy nap like the fur on a mole. But not the little guys themselves.
    I hate to be labeled as one of the Heyer-naysayers, but if she has a character wearing a vest/waistcoat made of dozens of tiny pelts, then I’d have to chalk it up to fanciful garb she invented for that particular gentleman rather than any historical example.
    As for Janet Leigh’s moleskin: there are so many reasons for that particular scene to be legendary! *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  67. Tal, I don’t know if this is good news or bad, but I don’t believe the term “moleskin” ever referred to the real pelts of moles. I checked with all my usual dusty tomes, and the internet as well, and even in the middle ages, the term when used in reference to clothing always seems to mean a heavy cotton twill, brushed (or “teasled”, which sounds much more interesting!) to develop a fuzzy nap like the fur on a mole. But not the little guys themselves.
    I hate to be labeled as one of the Heyer-naysayers, but if she has a character wearing a vest/waistcoat made of dozens of tiny pelts, then I’d have to chalk it up to fanciful garb she invented for that particular gentleman rather than any historical example.
    As for Janet Leigh’s moleskin: there are so many reasons for that particular scene to be legendary! *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  68. Tal, I don’t know if this is good news or bad, but I don’t believe the term “moleskin” ever referred to the real pelts of moles. I checked with all my usual dusty tomes, and the internet as well, and even in the middle ages, the term when used in reference to clothing always seems to mean a heavy cotton twill, brushed (or “teasled”, which sounds much more interesting!) to develop a fuzzy nap like the fur on a mole. But not the little guys themselves.
    I hate to be labeled as one of the Heyer-naysayers, but if she has a character wearing a vest/waistcoat made of dozens of tiny pelts, then I’d have to chalk it up to fanciful garb she invented for that particular gentleman rather than any historical example.
    As for Janet Leigh’s moleskin: there are so many reasons for that particular scene to be legendary! *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  69. Tal, I don’t know if this is good news or bad, but I don’t believe the term “moleskin” ever referred to the real pelts of moles. I checked with all my usual dusty tomes, and the internet as well, and even in the middle ages, the term when used in reference to clothing always seems to mean a heavy cotton twill, brushed (or “teasled”, which sounds much more interesting!) to develop a fuzzy nap like the fur on a mole. But not the little guys themselves.
    I hate to be labeled as one of the Heyer-naysayers, but if she has a character wearing a vest/waistcoat made of dozens of tiny pelts, then I’d have to chalk it up to fanciful garb she invented for that particular gentleman rather than any historical example.
    As for Janet Leigh’s moleskin: there are so many reasons for that particular scene to be legendary! *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  70. Tal, I don’t know if this is good news or bad, but I don’t believe the term “moleskin” ever referred to the real pelts of moles. I checked with all my usual dusty tomes, and the internet as well, and even in the middle ages, the term when used in reference to clothing always seems to mean a heavy cotton twill, brushed (or “teasled”, which sounds much more interesting!) to develop a fuzzy nap like the fur on a mole. But not the little guys themselves.
    I hate to be labeled as one of the Heyer-naysayers, but if she has a character wearing a vest/waistcoat made of dozens of tiny pelts, then I’d have to chalk it up to fanciful garb she invented for that particular gentleman rather than any historical example.
    As for Janet Leigh’s moleskin: there are so many reasons for that particular scene to be legendary! *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  71. In regard to fustian, it wasn’t originally all-cotton. I translated the following interview for a friend who’s a costumer a while ago. I’ll share it with all of of, plus the original link.
    http://www.weberberg.de/weberberg/interview.html
    “What did they do with all that fustian cloth?”
    Interview with cultural historian Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek
    Weberberg.de: When the keyword “weaver” comes up, most Germans first think of Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama, “The Weavers,” associating it with misery and revolution. In Biberach, by contrast, the concepts of prosperity and expansion of a town are associated with it. Were the Biberach weavers better-off than the Silesian weavers?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably not, but you have to make distinctions. There were certainly quite a few who were pretty well off, but the majority of the weavers certainly lived on the margins of having a sufficient income. That is shown both by the statistics that Dr. Dieter Funk has published in his book, “Biberacher Barchent” as well as the individual examples portrayed by Reinhold Adler.
    Weberberg.de: And what further distinctions should we make?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: If a weaver was financially successful, it was certainly only if he also had mercantile ability and started out on a somewhat better financial footing than the average. Associated with that, he needed to have political cleverness in arranging for the purchase of raw materials, and probably also the ability to do hard bargaining when it came to sales. Nobody was able to achieve a great fortune by means of weaving alone.
    Weberberg.de: The splendid houses on the marketplace . . .
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: . . . are the houses of patricians, for example the houses of merchants in the cloth trade, but certainly not the houses of weavers.
    Weberbeerg.de: So those are to be found on the “Weberberg” [Weavers’ Hill].
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was indeed the central focus of the weaving handicraft. If you look at the old city map from the 17th century to determine where the weavers resided, you can see that in part Biberach lay on swampy ground. Because of the high level of the water table there, it wasn’t favorable for having weaving cellars, which could only be established on “Weaver’s Hill,” which was located on higher ground. However, there were also houses of weavers on the “Kappenzipfel” [tip of the cap].
    Weberberg.de: And these families supplied the entire city and, additionally, a large part of Europe with
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: “Families” is correct. Child labor was certainly widespread, for example in spinning. At the time, almost everyone, everywhere, span. In Biberach, housemaids paid off a part of the obligations they owed to their masters and the sick women in the municipal charity hospital who were capable of doing some work also were employed in spinning. Not only woven linen was important for trade, but also fustian, a softer mixed weave of linen and cotton
    Weberberg.de: So people wore fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That seems to me to have been not yet sufficiently researched. Certainly fustian was used for sheets, for towels and wash cloths, and for tarpaulins [literally, for “rain-proof cloths”]. I do not know how extensively it was used for clothing, given the growing prosperity and changing fashions in clothing. Give the extensive production, I constantly ask myself: What did they actually do with all that fustian?
    Weberberg.de: Was Biberach Germany’s Number 1 weaving city?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Certainly not today, and also not in the Middle Ages. Biberach was only one of the Upper German towns in which good-quality fustian was produced. Even if you limit the question to Upper Swabia, Biberach was not of outstanding significance. You really need to say it the other way around: fustian played a very important role for Biberach.
    Weberberg.de: How, for example?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: First of all, naturally, it provided people with work and an opportunity to earn a living. However, when you read that a quarter of Biberach’s population is supposed to have been supported by weaving, you probably have to factor in that the statement includes all the other artisans who were peripherally involved with weaving. But fustian was also important in other areas of live: for example, in the 15th century, someone named Farbel donated a lot of fustian to the hospital in order to obtain an indulgence. And during shooting contests at the time, the prize to be won was a fustian cloth, not money.
    Weberberg.de: That brings us back to the question we started with. The prosperity of the city is no legend. The fact that the town built two city halls, which aren’t exactly small, in the course of a single century, is clear evidence of Biberach’s prosperity.
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Naturally. But how did the city make its money? Not by taxing the weavers or by trading in the cloth. Rather, one would say today, by licensing fees or the seals that attested to the good quality of the cloth. The quality of the fustian had to be officially determined. That occurred at the so-called “viewings” [inspections] by city officials. Fees were charged for that. Ironically, they fees were higher for the products that were determined to be of lower quality, more or less as a penalty.
    Weberberg.de: And how was it categorized? Ia, Ib, II, etc.?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: No, there were names for the individual quality categories, such as Oxen, Lions, Grapes, or Letter.
    Weberberg.de: Letter?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was the worst quality. A slip of paper was attached to the bales of fustian describing the deficiencies. However, with luck, people could make some money speculating in fustian.
    Weberberg.de: With speculation? A “futures market” in the Middle Ages?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: People speculated in everything imaginable. Since fustian was improved by bleaching, this stage of the work gave opportunities for speculation. The outcome of bleaching was never predictable, being dependent upon the weather. Someone who had bought unbleached cloth had bad luck if the results of bleaching weren’t satisfactory and he couldn’t get the hoped-for price for the finished fustian cloth.
    Weberberg.de: How did this high point of Biberach’s fustian production come to an end?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: At some time, the high point of fustian production didn’t just come to an end in Biberach, but in all of Upper Germany. Several factors combined as the cause. One of them was the discovery of America, which altered the trade routes. Upper Germany, Biberach included, were pushed to the side. Venice was no longer the trade center of Europe, but rather Amsterdam became the new one. Later, cotton from America replaced Syrian cotton. Finally, everything collapsed entirely during the Thirty Years War. However, we could still use additional research on this process.
    Weberberg.de: What is the current state of research on the theme of fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably the most important book for Biberach is the one already mentioned, “Biberacher Barchent”, which can still be obtained in the weaving museum. It was written in the year 1965 and is basically a compilation of comparative research. Nothing else is really possible. All the city records for the period before 1584 were lost in the church fire of 1584. Only for the period after that do we have original source material for the city itself. For the earlier period, we have to depend upon the archive in the hospital, which still survives, and take into account research done for other cities.
    Weberberg.de: Mrs. Betzler-Hawlitschek, we thank you heartily offline that you have made this very informative online-interview possible.

    Reply
  72. In regard to fustian, it wasn’t originally all-cotton. I translated the following interview for a friend who’s a costumer a while ago. I’ll share it with all of of, plus the original link.
    http://www.weberberg.de/weberberg/interview.html
    “What did they do with all that fustian cloth?”
    Interview with cultural historian Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek
    Weberberg.de: When the keyword “weaver” comes up, most Germans first think of Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama, “The Weavers,” associating it with misery and revolution. In Biberach, by contrast, the concepts of prosperity and expansion of a town are associated with it. Were the Biberach weavers better-off than the Silesian weavers?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably not, but you have to make distinctions. There were certainly quite a few who were pretty well off, but the majority of the weavers certainly lived on the margins of having a sufficient income. That is shown both by the statistics that Dr. Dieter Funk has published in his book, “Biberacher Barchent” as well as the individual examples portrayed by Reinhold Adler.
    Weberberg.de: And what further distinctions should we make?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: If a weaver was financially successful, it was certainly only if he also had mercantile ability and started out on a somewhat better financial footing than the average. Associated with that, he needed to have political cleverness in arranging for the purchase of raw materials, and probably also the ability to do hard bargaining when it came to sales. Nobody was able to achieve a great fortune by means of weaving alone.
    Weberberg.de: The splendid houses on the marketplace . . .
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: . . . are the houses of patricians, for example the houses of merchants in the cloth trade, but certainly not the houses of weavers.
    Weberbeerg.de: So those are to be found on the “Weberberg” [Weavers’ Hill].
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was indeed the central focus of the weaving handicraft. If you look at the old city map from the 17th century to determine where the weavers resided, you can see that in part Biberach lay on swampy ground. Because of the high level of the water table there, it wasn’t favorable for having weaving cellars, which could only be established on “Weaver’s Hill,” which was located on higher ground. However, there were also houses of weavers on the “Kappenzipfel” [tip of the cap].
    Weberberg.de: And these families supplied the entire city and, additionally, a large part of Europe with
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: “Families” is correct. Child labor was certainly widespread, for example in spinning. At the time, almost everyone, everywhere, span. In Biberach, housemaids paid off a part of the obligations they owed to their masters and the sick women in the municipal charity hospital who were capable of doing some work also were employed in spinning. Not only woven linen was important for trade, but also fustian, a softer mixed weave of linen and cotton
    Weberberg.de: So people wore fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That seems to me to have been not yet sufficiently researched. Certainly fustian was used for sheets, for towels and wash cloths, and for tarpaulins [literally, for “rain-proof cloths”]. I do not know how extensively it was used for clothing, given the growing prosperity and changing fashions in clothing. Give the extensive production, I constantly ask myself: What did they actually do with all that fustian?
    Weberberg.de: Was Biberach Germany’s Number 1 weaving city?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Certainly not today, and also not in the Middle Ages. Biberach was only one of the Upper German towns in which good-quality fustian was produced. Even if you limit the question to Upper Swabia, Biberach was not of outstanding significance. You really need to say it the other way around: fustian played a very important role for Biberach.
    Weberberg.de: How, for example?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: First of all, naturally, it provided people with work and an opportunity to earn a living. However, when you read that a quarter of Biberach’s population is supposed to have been supported by weaving, you probably have to factor in that the statement includes all the other artisans who were peripherally involved with weaving. But fustian was also important in other areas of live: for example, in the 15th century, someone named Farbel donated a lot of fustian to the hospital in order to obtain an indulgence. And during shooting contests at the time, the prize to be won was a fustian cloth, not money.
    Weberberg.de: That brings us back to the question we started with. The prosperity of the city is no legend. The fact that the town built two city halls, which aren’t exactly small, in the course of a single century, is clear evidence of Biberach’s prosperity.
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Naturally. But how did the city make its money? Not by taxing the weavers or by trading in the cloth. Rather, one would say today, by licensing fees or the seals that attested to the good quality of the cloth. The quality of the fustian had to be officially determined. That occurred at the so-called “viewings” [inspections] by city officials. Fees were charged for that. Ironically, they fees were higher for the products that were determined to be of lower quality, more or less as a penalty.
    Weberberg.de: And how was it categorized? Ia, Ib, II, etc.?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: No, there were names for the individual quality categories, such as Oxen, Lions, Grapes, or Letter.
    Weberberg.de: Letter?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was the worst quality. A slip of paper was attached to the bales of fustian describing the deficiencies. However, with luck, people could make some money speculating in fustian.
    Weberberg.de: With speculation? A “futures market” in the Middle Ages?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: People speculated in everything imaginable. Since fustian was improved by bleaching, this stage of the work gave opportunities for speculation. The outcome of bleaching was never predictable, being dependent upon the weather. Someone who had bought unbleached cloth had bad luck if the results of bleaching weren’t satisfactory and he couldn’t get the hoped-for price for the finished fustian cloth.
    Weberberg.de: How did this high point of Biberach’s fustian production come to an end?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: At some time, the high point of fustian production didn’t just come to an end in Biberach, but in all of Upper Germany. Several factors combined as the cause. One of them was the discovery of America, which altered the trade routes. Upper Germany, Biberach included, were pushed to the side. Venice was no longer the trade center of Europe, but rather Amsterdam became the new one. Later, cotton from America replaced Syrian cotton. Finally, everything collapsed entirely during the Thirty Years War. However, we could still use additional research on this process.
    Weberberg.de: What is the current state of research on the theme of fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably the most important book for Biberach is the one already mentioned, “Biberacher Barchent”, which can still be obtained in the weaving museum. It was written in the year 1965 and is basically a compilation of comparative research. Nothing else is really possible. All the city records for the period before 1584 were lost in the church fire of 1584. Only for the period after that do we have original source material for the city itself. For the earlier period, we have to depend upon the archive in the hospital, which still survives, and take into account research done for other cities.
    Weberberg.de: Mrs. Betzler-Hawlitschek, we thank you heartily offline that you have made this very informative online-interview possible.

    Reply
  73. In regard to fustian, it wasn’t originally all-cotton. I translated the following interview for a friend who’s a costumer a while ago. I’ll share it with all of of, plus the original link.
    http://www.weberberg.de/weberberg/interview.html
    “What did they do with all that fustian cloth?”
    Interview with cultural historian Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek
    Weberberg.de: When the keyword “weaver” comes up, most Germans first think of Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama, “The Weavers,” associating it with misery and revolution. In Biberach, by contrast, the concepts of prosperity and expansion of a town are associated with it. Were the Biberach weavers better-off than the Silesian weavers?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably not, but you have to make distinctions. There were certainly quite a few who were pretty well off, but the majority of the weavers certainly lived on the margins of having a sufficient income. That is shown both by the statistics that Dr. Dieter Funk has published in his book, “Biberacher Barchent” as well as the individual examples portrayed by Reinhold Adler.
    Weberberg.de: And what further distinctions should we make?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: If a weaver was financially successful, it was certainly only if he also had mercantile ability and started out on a somewhat better financial footing than the average. Associated with that, he needed to have political cleverness in arranging for the purchase of raw materials, and probably also the ability to do hard bargaining when it came to sales. Nobody was able to achieve a great fortune by means of weaving alone.
    Weberberg.de: The splendid houses on the marketplace . . .
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: . . . are the houses of patricians, for example the houses of merchants in the cloth trade, but certainly not the houses of weavers.
    Weberbeerg.de: So those are to be found on the “Weberberg” [Weavers’ Hill].
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was indeed the central focus of the weaving handicraft. If you look at the old city map from the 17th century to determine where the weavers resided, you can see that in part Biberach lay on swampy ground. Because of the high level of the water table there, it wasn’t favorable for having weaving cellars, which could only be established on “Weaver’s Hill,” which was located on higher ground. However, there were also houses of weavers on the “Kappenzipfel” [tip of the cap].
    Weberberg.de: And these families supplied the entire city and, additionally, a large part of Europe with
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: “Families” is correct. Child labor was certainly widespread, for example in spinning. At the time, almost everyone, everywhere, span. In Biberach, housemaids paid off a part of the obligations they owed to their masters and the sick women in the municipal charity hospital who were capable of doing some work also were employed in spinning. Not only woven linen was important for trade, but also fustian, a softer mixed weave of linen and cotton
    Weberberg.de: So people wore fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That seems to me to have been not yet sufficiently researched. Certainly fustian was used for sheets, for towels and wash cloths, and for tarpaulins [literally, for “rain-proof cloths”]. I do not know how extensively it was used for clothing, given the growing prosperity and changing fashions in clothing. Give the extensive production, I constantly ask myself: What did they actually do with all that fustian?
    Weberberg.de: Was Biberach Germany’s Number 1 weaving city?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Certainly not today, and also not in the Middle Ages. Biberach was only one of the Upper German towns in which good-quality fustian was produced. Even if you limit the question to Upper Swabia, Biberach was not of outstanding significance. You really need to say it the other way around: fustian played a very important role for Biberach.
    Weberberg.de: How, for example?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: First of all, naturally, it provided people with work and an opportunity to earn a living. However, when you read that a quarter of Biberach’s population is supposed to have been supported by weaving, you probably have to factor in that the statement includes all the other artisans who were peripherally involved with weaving. But fustian was also important in other areas of live: for example, in the 15th century, someone named Farbel donated a lot of fustian to the hospital in order to obtain an indulgence. And during shooting contests at the time, the prize to be won was a fustian cloth, not money.
    Weberberg.de: That brings us back to the question we started with. The prosperity of the city is no legend. The fact that the town built two city halls, which aren’t exactly small, in the course of a single century, is clear evidence of Biberach’s prosperity.
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Naturally. But how did the city make its money? Not by taxing the weavers or by trading in the cloth. Rather, one would say today, by licensing fees or the seals that attested to the good quality of the cloth. The quality of the fustian had to be officially determined. That occurred at the so-called “viewings” [inspections] by city officials. Fees were charged for that. Ironically, they fees were higher for the products that were determined to be of lower quality, more or less as a penalty.
    Weberberg.de: And how was it categorized? Ia, Ib, II, etc.?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: No, there were names for the individual quality categories, such as Oxen, Lions, Grapes, or Letter.
    Weberberg.de: Letter?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was the worst quality. A slip of paper was attached to the bales of fustian describing the deficiencies. However, with luck, people could make some money speculating in fustian.
    Weberberg.de: With speculation? A “futures market” in the Middle Ages?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: People speculated in everything imaginable. Since fustian was improved by bleaching, this stage of the work gave opportunities for speculation. The outcome of bleaching was never predictable, being dependent upon the weather. Someone who had bought unbleached cloth had bad luck if the results of bleaching weren’t satisfactory and he couldn’t get the hoped-for price for the finished fustian cloth.
    Weberberg.de: How did this high point of Biberach’s fustian production come to an end?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: At some time, the high point of fustian production didn’t just come to an end in Biberach, but in all of Upper Germany. Several factors combined as the cause. One of them was the discovery of America, which altered the trade routes. Upper Germany, Biberach included, were pushed to the side. Venice was no longer the trade center of Europe, but rather Amsterdam became the new one. Later, cotton from America replaced Syrian cotton. Finally, everything collapsed entirely during the Thirty Years War. However, we could still use additional research on this process.
    Weberberg.de: What is the current state of research on the theme of fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably the most important book for Biberach is the one already mentioned, “Biberacher Barchent”, which can still be obtained in the weaving museum. It was written in the year 1965 and is basically a compilation of comparative research. Nothing else is really possible. All the city records for the period before 1584 were lost in the church fire of 1584. Only for the period after that do we have original source material for the city itself. For the earlier period, we have to depend upon the archive in the hospital, which still survives, and take into account research done for other cities.
    Weberberg.de: Mrs. Betzler-Hawlitschek, we thank you heartily offline that you have made this very informative online-interview possible.

    Reply
  74. In regard to fustian, it wasn’t originally all-cotton. I translated the following interview for a friend who’s a costumer a while ago. I’ll share it with all of of, plus the original link.
    http://www.weberberg.de/weberberg/interview.html
    “What did they do with all that fustian cloth?”
    Interview with cultural historian Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek
    Weberberg.de: When the keyword “weaver” comes up, most Germans first think of Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama, “The Weavers,” associating it with misery and revolution. In Biberach, by contrast, the concepts of prosperity and expansion of a town are associated with it. Were the Biberach weavers better-off than the Silesian weavers?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably not, but you have to make distinctions. There were certainly quite a few who were pretty well off, but the majority of the weavers certainly lived on the margins of having a sufficient income. That is shown both by the statistics that Dr. Dieter Funk has published in his book, “Biberacher Barchent” as well as the individual examples portrayed by Reinhold Adler.
    Weberberg.de: And what further distinctions should we make?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: If a weaver was financially successful, it was certainly only if he also had mercantile ability and started out on a somewhat better financial footing than the average. Associated with that, he needed to have political cleverness in arranging for the purchase of raw materials, and probably also the ability to do hard bargaining when it came to sales. Nobody was able to achieve a great fortune by means of weaving alone.
    Weberberg.de: The splendid houses on the marketplace . . .
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: . . . are the houses of patricians, for example the houses of merchants in the cloth trade, but certainly not the houses of weavers.
    Weberbeerg.de: So those are to be found on the “Weberberg” [Weavers’ Hill].
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was indeed the central focus of the weaving handicraft. If you look at the old city map from the 17th century to determine where the weavers resided, you can see that in part Biberach lay on swampy ground. Because of the high level of the water table there, it wasn’t favorable for having weaving cellars, which could only be established on “Weaver’s Hill,” which was located on higher ground. However, there were also houses of weavers on the “Kappenzipfel” [tip of the cap].
    Weberberg.de: And these families supplied the entire city and, additionally, a large part of Europe with
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: “Families” is correct. Child labor was certainly widespread, for example in spinning. At the time, almost everyone, everywhere, span. In Biberach, housemaids paid off a part of the obligations they owed to their masters and the sick women in the municipal charity hospital who were capable of doing some work also were employed in spinning. Not only woven linen was important for trade, but also fustian, a softer mixed weave of linen and cotton
    Weberberg.de: So people wore fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That seems to me to have been not yet sufficiently researched. Certainly fustian was used for sheets, for towels and wash cloths, and for tarpaulins [literally, for “rain-proof cloths”]. I do not know how extensively it was used for clothing, given the growing prosperity and changing fashions in clothing. Give the extensive production, I constantly ask myself: What did they actually do with all that fustian?
    Weberberg.de: Was Biberach Germany’s Number 1 weaving city?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Certainly not today, and also not in the Middle Ages. Biberach was only one of the Upper German towns in which good-quality fustian was produced. Even if you limit the question to Upper Swabia, Biberach was not of outstanding significance. You really need to say it the other way around: fustian played a very important role for Biberach.
    Weberberg.de: How, for example?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: First of all, naturally, it provided people with work and an opportunity to earn a living. However, when you read that a quarter of Biberach’s population is supposed to have been supported by weaving, you probably have to factor in that the statement includes all the other artisans who were peripherally involved with weaving. But fustian was also important in other areas of live: for example, in the 15th century, someone named Farbel donated a lot of fustian to the hospital in order to obtain an indulgence. And during shooting contests at the time, the prize to be won was a fustian cloth, not money.
    Weberberg.de: That brings us back to the question we started with. The prosperity of the city is no legend. The fact that the town built two city halls, which aren’t exactly small, in the course of a single century, is clear evidence of Biberach’s prosperity.
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Naturally. But how did the city make its money? Not by taxing the weavers or by trading in the cloth. Rather, one would say today, by licensing fees or the seals that attested to the good quality of the cloth. The quality of the fustian had to be officially determined. That occurred at the so-called “viewings” [inspections] by city officials. Fees were charged for that. Ironically, they fees were higher for the products that were determined to be of lower quality, more or less as a penalty.
    Weberberg.de: And how was it categorized? Ia, Ib, II, etc.?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: No, there were names for the individual quality categories, such as Oxen, Lions, Grapes, or Letter.
    Weberberg.de: Letter?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was the worst quality. A slip of paper was attached to the bales of fustian describing the deficiencies. However, with luck, people could make some money speculating in fustian.
    Weberberg.de: With speculation? A “futures market” in the Middle Ages?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: People speculated in everything imaginable. Since fustian was improved by bleaching, this stage of the work gave opportunities for speculation. The outcome of bleaching was never predictable, being dependent upon the weather. Someone who had bought unbleached cloth had bad luck if the results of bleaching weren’t satisfactory and he couldn’t get the hoped-for price for the finished fustian cloth.
    Weberberg.de: How did this high point of Biberach’s fustian production come to an end?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: At some time, the high point of fustian production didn’t just come to an end in Biberach, but in all of Upper Germany. Several factors combined as the cause. One of them was the discovery of America, which altered the trade routes. Upper Germany, Biberach included, were pushed to the side. Venice was no longer the trade center of Europe, but rather Amsterdam became the new one. Later, cotton from America replaced Syrian cotton. Finally, everything collapsed entirely during the Thirty Years War. However, we could still use additional research on this process.
    Weberberg.de: What is the current state of research on the theme of fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably the most important book for Biberach is the one already mentioned, “Biberacher Barchent”, which can still be obtained in the weaving museum. It was written in the year 1965 and is basically a compilation of comparative research. Nothing else is really possible. All the city records for the period before 1584 were lost in the church fire of 1584. Only for the period after that do we have original source material for the city itself. For the earlier period, we have to depend upon the archive in the hospital, which still survives, and take into account research done for other cities.
    Weberberg.de: Mrs. Betzler-Hawlitschek, we thank you heartily offline that you have made this very informative online-interview possible.

    Reply
  75. In regard to fustian, it wasn’t originally all-cotton. I translated the following interview for a friend who’s a costumer a while ago. I’ll share it with all of of, plus the original link.
    http://www.weberberg.de/weberberg/interview.html
    “What did they do with all that fustian cloth?”
    Interview with cultural historian Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek
    Weberberg.de: When the keyword “weaver” comes up, most Germans first think of Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama, “The Weavers,” associating it with misery and revolution. In Biberach, by contrast, the concepts of prosperity and expansion of a town are associated with it. Were the Biberach weavers better-off than the Silesian weavers?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably not, but you have to make distinctions. There were certainly quite a few who were pretty well off, but the majority of the weavers certainly lived on the margins of having a sufficient income. That is shown both by the statistics that Dr. Dieter Funk has published in his book, “Biberacher Barchent” as well as the individual examples portrayed by Reinhold Adler.
    Weberberg.de: And what further distinctions should we make?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: If a weaver was financially successful, it was certainly only if he also had mercantile ability and started out on a somewhat better financial footing than the average. Associated with that, he needed to have political cleverness in arranging for the purchase of raw materials, and probably also the ability to do hard bargaining when it came to sales. Nobody was able to achieve a great fortune by means of weaving alone.
    Weberberg.de: The splendid houses on the marketplace . . .
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: . . . are the houses of patricians, for example the houses of merchants in the cloth trade, but certainly not the houses of weavers.
    Weberbeerg.de: So those are to be found on the “Weberberg” [Weavers’ Hill].
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was indeed the central focus of the weaving handicraft. If you look at the old city map from the 17th century to determine where the weavers resided, you can see that in part Biberach lay on swampy ground. Because of the high level of the water table there, it wasn’t favorable for having weaving cellars, which could only be established on “Weaver’s Hill,” which was located on higher ground. However, there were also houses of weavers on the “Kappenzipfel” [tip of the cap].
    Weberberg.de: And these families supplied the entire city and, additionally, a large part of Europe with
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: “Families” is correct. Child labor was certainly widespread, for example in spinning. At the time, almost everyone, everywhere, span. In Biberach, housemaids paid off a part of the obligations they owed to their masters and the sick women in the municipal charity hospital who were capable of doing some work also were employed in spinning. Not only woven linen was important for trade, but also fustian, a softer mixed weave of linen and cotton
    Weberberg.de: So people wore fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That seems to me to have been not yet sufficiently researched. Certainly fustian was used for sheets, for towels and wash cloths, and for tarpaulins [literally, for “rain-proof cloths”]. I do not know how extensively it was used for clothing, given the growing prosperity and changing fashions in clothing. Give the extensive production, I constantly ask myself: What did they actually do with all that fustian?
    Weberberg.de: Was Biberach Germany’s Number 1 weaving city?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Certainly not today, and also not in the Middle Ages. Biberach was only one of the Upper German towns in which good-quality fustian was produced. Even if you limit the question to Upper Swabia, Biberach was not of outstanding significance. You really need to say it the other way around: fustian played a very important role for Biberach.
    Weberberg.de: How, for example?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: First of all, naturally, it provided people with work and an opportunity to earn a living. However, when you read that a quarter of Biberach’s population is supposed to have been supported by weaving, you probably have to factor in that the statement includes all the other artisans who were peripherally involved with weaving. But fustian was also important in other areas of live: for example, in the 15th century, someone named Farbel donated a lot of fustian to the hospital in order to obtain an indulgence. And during shooting contests at the time, the prize to be won was a fustian cloth, not money.
    Weberberg.de: That brings us back to the question we started with. The prosperity of the city is no legend. The fact that the town built two city halls, which aren’t exactly small, in the course of a single century, is clear evidence of Biberach’s prosperity.
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Naturally. But how did the city make its money? Not by taxing the weavers or by trading in the cloth. Rather, one would say today, by licensing fees or the seals that attested to the good quality of the cloth. The quality of the fustian had to be officially determined. That occurred at the so-called “viewings” [inspections] by city officials. Fees were charged for that. Ironically, they fees were higher for the products that were determined to be of lower quality, more or less as a penalty.
    Weberberg.de: And how was it categorized? Ia, Ib, II, etc.?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: No, there were names for the individual quality categories, such as Oxen, Lions, Grapes, or Letter.
    Weberberg.de: Letter?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: That was the worst quality. A slip of paper was attached to the bales of fustian describing the deficiencies. However, with luck, people could make some money speculating in fustian.
    Weberberg.de: With speculation? A “futures market” in the Middle Ages?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: People speculated in everything imaginable. Since fustian was improved by bleaching, this stage of the work gave opportunities for speculation. The outcome of bleaching was never predictable, being dependent upon the weather. Someone who had bought unbleached cloth had bad luck if the results of bleaching weren’t satisfactory and he couldn’t get the hoped-for price for the finished fustian cloth.
    Weberberg.de: How did this high point of Biberach’s fustian production come to an end?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: At some time, the high point of fustian production didn’t just come to an end in Biberach, but in all of Upper Germany. Several factors combined as the cause. One of them was the discovery of America, which altered the trade routes. Upper Germany, Biberach included, were pushed to the side. Venice was no longer the trade center of Europe, but rather Amsterdam became the new one. Later, cotton from America replaced Syrian cotton. Finally, everything collapsed entirely during the Thirty Years War. However, we could still use additional research on this process.
    Weberberg.de: What is the current state of research on the theme of fustian?
    Sabine Betzler-Hawlitschek: Probably the most important book for Biberach is the one already mentioned, “Biberacher Barchent”, which can still be obtained in the weaving museum. It was written in the year 1965 and is basically a compilation of comparative research. Nothing else is really possible. All the city records for the period before 1584 were lost in the church fire of 1584. Only for the period after that do we have original source material for the city itself. For the earlier period, we have to depend upon the archive in the hospital, which still survives, and take into account research done for other cities.
    Weberberg.de: Mrs. Betzler-Hawlitschek, we thank you heartily offline that you have made this very informative online-interview possible.

    Reply
  76. Susan Miranda ,
    Should you ever find yourself in Toronto (like, for example, if you were moved to be guest speaker at the local RWA chapter meeting *g*), you would certainly enjoy our Textile Museum. It is small but flawless, and beautifully kept/displayed.

    Reply
  77. Susan Miranda ,
    Should you ever find yourself in Toronto (like, for example, if you were moved to be guest speaker at the local RWA chapter meeting *g*), you would certainly enjoy our Textile Museum. It is small but flawless, and beautifully kept/displayed.

    Reply
  78. Susan Miranda ,
    Should you ever find yourself in Toronto (like, for example, if you were moved to be guest speaker at the local RWA chapter meeting *g*), you would certainly enjoy our Textile Museum. It is small but flawless, and beautifully kept/displayed.

    Reply
  79. Susan Miranda ,
    Should you ever find yourself in Toronto (like, for example, if you were moved to be guest speaker at the local RWA chapter meeting *g*), you would certainly enjoy our Textile Museum. It is small but flawless, and beautifully kept/displayed.

    Reply
  80. Susan Miranda ,
    Should you ever find yourself in Toronto (like, for example, if you were moved to be guest speaker at the local RWA chapter meeting *g*), you would certainly enjoy our Textile Museum. It is small but flawless, and beautifully kept/displayed.

    Reply
  81. Heyer’s character, if I am right in remembering, wore a catskin waistcoat- and I think they actually wre made from catskins! Disturbing to think of, but really no different from wearing rabbit fur, I suppose.

    Reply
  82. Heyer’s character, if I am right in remembering, wore a catskin waistcoat- and I think they actually wre made from catskins! Disturbing to think of, but really no different from wearing rabbit fur, I suppose.

    Reply
  83. Heyer’s character, if I am right in remembering, wore a catskin waistcoat- and I think they actually wre made from catskins! Disturbing to think of, but really no different from wearing rabbit fur, I suppose.

    Reply
  84. Heyer’s character, if I am right in remembering, wore a catskin waistcoat- and I think they actually wre made from catskins! Disturbing to think of, but really no different from wearing rabbit fur, I suppose.

    Reply
  85. Heyer’s character, if I am right in remembering, wore a catskin waistcoat- and I think they actually wre made from catskins! Disturbing to think of, but really no different from wearing rabbit fur, I suppose.

    Reply
  86. Virginia, thanks for posting the article about fustian!
    Maya, I’ll have to keep that Textile Museum in Toronto in mind. Sometimes the smaller museums are the ones with the best collections…
    Gretchen, I believe the catskin. I know that there were also chickenskin fans, and dogskin gloves. Apparently dogskin was so prized that one had take care to keep one’s own dog tied up or inside overnight, because dogcatchers were permitted to gather up any strays for skinning and selling they found in the London streets in the early morning hours — an awful thought for modern animal lovers!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  87. Virginia, thanks for posting the article about fustian!
    Maya, I’ll have to keep that Textile Museum in Toronto in mind. Sometimes the smaller museums are the ones with the best collections…
    Gretchen, I believe the catskin. I know that there were also chickenskin fans, and dogskin gloves. Apparently dogskin was so prized that one had take care to keep one’s own dog tied up or inside overnight, because dogcatchers were permitted to gather up any strays for skinning and selling they found in the London streets in the early morning hours — an awful thought for modern animal lovers!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  88. Virginia, thanks for posting the article about fustian!
    Maya, I’ll have to keep that Textile Museum in Toronto in mind. Sometimes the smaller museums are the ones with the best collections…
    Gretchen, I believe the catskin. I know that there were also chickenskin fans, and dogskin gloves. Apparently dogskin was so prized that one had take care to keep one’s own dog tied up or inside overnight, because dogcatchers were permitted to gather up any strays for skinning and selling they found in the London streets in the early morning hours — an awful thought for modern animal lovers!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  89. Virginia, thanks for posting the article about fustian!
    Maya, I’ll have to keep that Textile Museum in Toronto in mind. Sometimes the smaller museums are the ones with the best collections…
    Gretchen, I believe the catskin. I know that there were also chickenskin fans, and dogskin gloves. Apparently dogskin was so prized that one had take care to keep one’s own dog tied up or inside overnight, because dogcatchers were permitted to gather up any strays for skinning and selling they found in the London streets in the early morning hours — an awful thought for modern animal lovers!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  90. Virginia, thanks for posting the article about fustian!
    Maya, I’ll have to keep that Textile Museum in Toronto in mind. Sometimes the smaller museums are the ones with the best collections…
    Gretchen, I believe the catskin. I know that there were also chickenskin fans, and dogskin gloves. Apparently dogskin was so prized that one had take care to keep one’s own dog tied up or inside overnight, because dogcatchers were permitted to gather up any strays for skinning and selling they found in the London streets in the early morning hours — an awful thought for modern animal lovers!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  91. I love descriptions of clothes, and since clothes are made from fabric, I love descriptions of fabric. However, I hate ‘fairy-tale princess dresses’ that have nothing to do with the fashions of the period the book is set in.
    It even annoys me when the clothes are a generation off – an 18th-century dress on a Regency character for instance, unless she’s an old lady who has stayed faithful to the fashions of her youth, like Mrs. Floore in Bath Tangle.
    But the clothes have to be worked into the story. Endless descriptions of clothes that serve no purpose bore even me.

    Reply
  92. I love descriptions of clothes, and since clothes are made from fabric, I love descriptions of fabric. However, I hate ‘fairy-tale princess dresses’ that have nothing to do with the fashions of the period the book is set in.
    It even annoys me when the clothes are a generation off – an 18th-century dress on a Regency character for instance, unless she’s an old lady who has stayed faithful to the fashions of her youth, like Mrs. Floore in Bath Tangle.
    But the clothes have to be worked into the story. Endless descriptions of clothes that serve no purpose bore even me.

    Reply
  93. I love descriptions of clothes, and since clothes are made from fabric, I love descriptions of fabric. However, I hate ‘fairy-tale princess dresses’ that have nothing to do with the fashions of the period the book is set in.
    It even annoys me when the clothes are a generation off – an 18th-century dress on a Regency character for instance, unless she’s an old lady who has stayed faithful to the fashions of her youth, like Mrs. Floore in Bath Tangle.
    But the clothes have to be worked into the story. Endless descriptions of clothes that serve no purpose bore even me.

    Reply
  94. I love descriptions of clothes, and since clothes are made from fabric, I love descriptions of fabric. However, I hate ‘fairy-tale princess dresses’ that have nothing to do with the fashions of the period the book is set in.
    It even annoys me when the clothes are a generation off – an 18th-century dress on a Regency character for instance, unless she’s an old lady who has stayed faithful to the fashions of her youth, like Mrs. Floore in Bath Tangle.
    But the clothes have to be worked into the story. Endless descriptions of clothes that serve no purpose bore even me.

    Reply
  95. I love descriptions of clothes, and since clothes are made from fabric, I love descriptions of fabric. However, I hate ‘fairy-tale princess dresses’ that have nothing to do with the fashions of the period the book is set in.
    It even annoys me when the clothes are a generation off – an 18th-century dress on a Regency character for instance, unless she’s an old lady who has stayed faithful to the fashions of her youth, like Mrs. Floore in Bath Tangle.
    But the clothes have to be worked into the story. Endless descriptions of clothes that serve no purpose bore even me.

    Reply
  96. I think the information about moleskins from real moles came from either a book about moles (I have several) or perhaps from a novel in which one of the principal characters was a molecatcher. And Terry Pratchett has a comment about catching moles to make moleskin trousers, as if it were commonplace knowledge.
    Here is a link to a story about mole fur as the latest thing in fashion, from the New York Times in 1903:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C07E3D71439E433A25752C0A9679D946297D6CF
    The ultimate moleskin story:
    http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/pants.asp

    Reply
  97. I think the information about moleskins from real moles came from either a book about moles (I have several) or perhaps from a novel in which one of the principal characters was a molecatcher. And Terry Pratchett has a comment about catching moles to make moleskin trousers, as if it were commonplace knowledge.
    Here is a link to a story about mole fur as the latest thing in fashion, from the New York Times in 1903:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C07E3D71439E433A25752C0A9679D946297D6CF
    The ultimate moleskin story:
    http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/pants.asp

    Reply
  98. I think the information about moleskins from real moles came from either a book about moles (I have several) or perhaps from a novel in which one of the principal characters was a molecatcher. And Terry Pratchett has a comment about catching moles to make moleskin trousers, as if it were commonplace knowledge.
    Here is a link to a story about mole fur as the latest thing in fashion, from the New York Times in 1903:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C07E3D71439E433A25752C0A9679D946297D6CF
    The ultimate moleskin story:
    http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/pants.asp

    Reply
  99. I think the information about moleskins from real moles came from either a book about moles (I have several) or perhaps from a novel in which one of the principal characters was a molecatcher. And Terry Pratchett has a comment about catching moles to make moleskin trousers, as if it were commonplace knowledge.
    Here is a link to a story about mole fur as the latest thing in fashion, from the New York Times in 1903:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C07E3D71439E433A25752C0A9679D946297D6CF
    The ultimate moleskin story:
    http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/pants.asp

    Reply
  100. I think the information about moleskins from real moles came from either a book about moles (I have several) or perhaps from a novel in which one of the principal characters was a molecatcher. And Terry Pratchett has a comment about catching moles to make moleskin trousers, as if it were commonplace knowledge.
    Here is a link to a story about mole fur as the latest thing in fashion, from the New York Times in 1903:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C07E3D71439E433A25752C0A9679D946297D6CF
    The ultimate moleskin story:
    http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/pants.asp

    Reply
  101. With Talpianna adding all the moleskin information, a brain cell jarred loose. Talpa is the genus for mole. Not that she is anything mole like. :)Thank you for all the research and comments everyone takes the time to add. I enjoy way too much information. Now I just wish I could remember what I went to the store for.

    Reply
  102. With Talpianna adding all the moleskin information, a brain cell jarred loose. Talpa is the genus for mole. Not that she is anything mole like. :)Thank you for all the research and comments everyone takes the time to add. I enjoy way too much information. Now I just wish I could remember what I went to the store for.

    Reply
  103. With Talpianna adding all the moleskin information, a brain cell jarred loose. Talpa is the genus for mole. Not that she is anything mole like. :)Thank you for all the research and comments everyone takes the time to add. I enjoy way too much information. Now I just wish I could remember what I went to the store for.

    Reply
  104. With Talpianna adding all the moleskin information, a brain cell jarred loose. Talpa is the genus for mole. Not that she is anything mole like. :)Thank you for all the research and comments everyone takes the time to add. I enjoy way too much information. Now I just wish I could remember what I went to the store for.

    Reply
  105. With Talpianna adding all the moleskin information, a brain cell jarred loose. Talpa is the genus for mole. Not that she is anything mole like. :)Thank you for all the research and comments everyone takes the time to add. I enjoy way too much information. Now I just wish I could remember what I went to the store for.

    Reply
  106. Hello!?
    I actually had a quick question and wasn’t sure if someone might know if they have
    ever encountered this. Have you ever seen a tattoo artist use magnifiers while they are
    doing a tattoo? I would think it might be helpful while they are doing the fine points of
    a tattoo that require great detail.
    aries tattoo designsMaybe even those magnifying glasses that
    your dentist wearing? Anyways wasn’t sure if anyone ever encountered this?

    Reply
  107. Hello!?
    I actually had a quick question and wasn’t sure if someone might know if they have
    ever encountered this. Have you ever seen a tattoo artist use magnifiers while they are
    doing a tattoo? I would think it might be helpful while they are doing the fine points of
    a tattoo that require great detail.
    aries tattoo designsMaybe even those magnifying glasses that
    your dentist wearing? Anyways wasn’t sure if anyone ever encountered this?

    Reply
  108. Hello!?
    I actually had a quick question and wasn’t sure if someone might know if they have
    ever encountered this. Have you ever seen a tattoo artist use magnifiers while they are
    doing a tattoo? I would think it might be helpful while they are doing the fine points of
    a tattoo that require great detail.
    aries tattoo designsMaybe even those magnifying glasses that
    your dentist wearing? Anyways wasn’t sure if anyone ever encountered this?

    Reply
  109. Hello!?
    I actually had a quick question and wasn’t sure if someone might know if they have
    ever encountered this. Have you ever seen a tattoo artist use magnifiers while they are
    doing a tattoo? I would think it might be helpful while they are doing the fine points of
    a tattoo that require great detail.
    aries tattoo designsMaybe even those magnifying glasses that
    your dentist wearing? Anyways wasn’t sure if anyone ever encountered this?

    Reply
  110. Hello!?
    I actually had a quick question and wasn’t sure if someone might know if they have
    ever encountered this. Have you ever seen a tattoo artist use magnifiers while they are
    doing a tattoo? I would think it might be helpful while they are doing the fine points of
    a tattoo that require great detail.
    aries tattoo designsMaybe even those magnifying glasses that
    your dentist wearing? Anyways wasn’t sure if anyone ever encountered this?

    Reply

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