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Textiles (C) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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CALICO: A somewhat coarse cotton fabric. It took its name from Calicut, a city on the coast of Malabar, where it was first manufactured. In Colonial times it was imported from England and the prints of Robert Peel of Lancashire were widely worn by the women of this country. See COTTON PRINTING.

CALIMANCO: A glazed woolen stuff of Flanders woven with satin twill and checkered in the warp, so that the checks are seen on one side only. Much used in the 18th century.

CAMAK Also called Camorca, a fabric of silk and fine camel's hair in use in the 14th and 15th centuries.

CAMBLET: (Or CAMLET) A stuff originally of silk and camel's hair, popular in the 18th century for bed-hangings and upholstery. Later, made of silk and wool.

CAMBRIC: A very fine, thin linen.

CANVAS: Stout, heavy cloth woven in the same way as linen, usually of unbleached cotton or of flax, sometimes of jute.

CARDING: The process of cleaning cotton of any foreign substances after "ginning," and to reduce it to a ribbon of thin fleece to be run through the drawing and roving machines into a thread-like form before it is wound on the bobbin.

CARPETS: Carpets probably originated in Persia where they were for centuries handwoven, both as carpets and rugs. (See RUGS, Oriental). The art spread eastward through India and China and westward through Turkey in Asia. Early importations into Europe were from Asia Minor, which gave the name Turkeywork (q.v.) to the product, and those made in England and in France in the 17 th century of hand-knotted pile went by the name of Turkey-work. By the middle of the 18th century the making of pile carpets had become an important English industry. It received a great stimulus by the influx of French Huguenot carpet-weavers. In England, during early times, the word "carpet" was applied to the coverings of beds, tables, cupboards, etc., and the same practice was followed in this country. It was not until the middle of the 18th century that the word was applied to floor coverings. The first factory in this country for the manufacture of yarn carpets was started at Philadelphia, late in the 18th century.

Axminister Carpets. Originally made at Axminster, England. The texture was chenille, soft and very agreeable, resembling Smyrna rugs, and the patterns were usually of pronounced Baroque or Rococo design. Carpet-making at Axininster began about the middle of the 18th century and continued actively for nearly one hundred years.

Brussels Carpets. In the 18th century Brussels was the leading carpet-producing center in Europe, but in England carpet factories at Axininster and Wilton captured the English market. Brussels carpets are made with the velvet weave uncut, applied to floor coverings. The patterns follow French designs. They are woven usually the width of the Flemish ell (27 inches).

Embroidered Carpets. A name given to a type of carpet of domestic make in this country early in the 19th century. A description of one made by Lucetta Smart of Rumney, New Hampshire, in size 86 by 58 inches, states that it is made of two strips of heavy woolen blanketing sewn together and on this ground the design is worked in a curious kind of chain stitch. The border shows a flowering vine, the field a woven basket from which aris6s a tree, amidst which disport birds. The colors are grey-green, three shades of blue, browns and reds varying in hue. It is quite probable that the so-called embroidered carpet was a forerunner of the hooked rug, a type of floor covering more quickly made, yet durable.

Kidderminster Carpets. Carpet-making was first established at Kidderminster, England, during first half of the 18th century. The product was a two-ply ingrain carpet showing warp and pile on each side, and reversible.

Wilton Carpets. These were first made at Wilton, England, in the 18th century in imitation of the velvet weave of Brussels carpets, but with the loops cut. The English patterns were largely Oriental and average much better than those of Brussels. Of the Wilton products of the 19th century the finest were of lamb's wool only, noted for its luster and long and beautiful fiber. The weaving was done by hand and only vegetable dyes were used.

CARTOON: A study or design executed on strong paper and of the size to be reproduced in tapestry or other weaving.


CASTOR: Usually describes a hat, either of beaver fur or resembling it.

CHAIN-STITCH: A loop-stitch. See STITCHES.

CHENILLE: A silk or worsted cord used in weaving, having short threads set at right angles, forming a velvety thread.


CHINA: An English weave of worsted or woolen stuff allied to serge. In Colonial times it was variously spelled "chaney," "cheney" and" cheyney. " Therewas also a reference in old inventories to" cheney satten" and "cheney taffetas ," which may have been of silk.

CHINTZ: A cotton cloth, usually glazed, and printed in various colors. The name was originally applied to the printed cotton cloth from India imported into England in the 17th century. It afterwards was applied to the glazed hand-printed call, coes of European and American manu' facture. See TOILE-DE JOUY.

COACH LACE: Not a lace at all, but an ornamental braid used to adorn the interior of coaches. When used in Europe for coach or livery it bore the arms of noble families, or seal of a city if designed for official use, but in this country it was designed on purely ornamental lines and in various colors.

COMFORTER: A bed-covering, usually of cotton and filled between the outer surfaces with loose cotton or wool and knotted at regular intervals to prevent the interlining from slipping out of place.

CORDUROY: A ribbed cotton material.

COTTON: A vegetable fiber, distinguished from all other fibers by the peculiar twist it possesses, which makes it exceedingly valuable for spinning. It is grown under a wider range of climatic conditions, over a greater area, and by a greater number and variety of people, and is useful for a larger number of purposes than any other fiber. Its by-products are also of great importance. The Sea Island and Egyptian long-staple cottons are among the most valuable species. The invention of the cotton gin (q.v.) by Eli Whitney in 1794 gave great impetus to the growing of cotton in this country, by the facility with which the seeds were removed from the boll by the use of that machine. In 1789 the first cotton mill in New England was started at Beverly, Massachusetts. See SPINNING.

COTTON CLOTH: Was first produced in England about 1760, and in this country by the beginning of the 19th century it had become an established industry. In Colonial times, cotton was used to some extent for home weaving.

COTTON GIN: A machine for separating cotton fiber from seed, invented by Eli Whitney in 1794. Previously the work had been done by hand, a slow and tedious process. Two types of the gin are now in use-the saw gin of the Whitney type, which does very rapid work and is generally used, and the roller gin, which is much slower but is less likely to injure the fiber. It is preferred for the longstaple cottons.

COTTON PRINTING: In Europe there were crude but ambitious attempts to imitate the cottons of the Orient imported in the 17th century by the East India trading companies. In France the Toile-de Jouy (q.v.) factory, near Versailles, was started in 1760 and work of good quality had been done in other parts of Europe at about the same time. In this country, a few isolated instances of cotton printing are recorded prior to the Revolution but as an industry it dates from the last quarter of the 18th century. At the turn of the century numerous establishments sprang up, particularly in New England and Pennsylvania, and the activities of these manufacturers foreshadowed the development of the enterprise which now occupies so important a part in the economic life of America. In 1803 cottons were first printed by the cylinder process, and rollers were first engraved with the design for calico printing in 1825.

COUNTERPANE: (Or Counterpoint) A bed-covering first mentioned in the Elizabethan period, s&-called from being worked in square or diamond-shaped figures, or panes, derived from the Latin pannus, a piece of cloth. Before the time of Elizabeth it was known as counterpoint. See COVERLETS.

COVERLETS: (French Couvre-Lit) Embroidered. Made with heavy wool yarn drawn through rather coarse homespun blanketing. They are of late 18thand early 19th-century make. Of these early American embroideries, very few are to be found at the present time. The method used was similar to that later employed in making hooked rugs.

Quilted. These were made on a quilting frame. The earlier ones were usually of linen, but those of the 19th century are of cotton, as a rule. Over the lining was spread a thin layer of cotton or wool and covered with the pieced top. The pattern consisted of single, double or triple lines, diagonal or in squares, diamonds or other design, in fine running stitch, not an extraneous thing but a part of the making. They were frequently adorned with an appliqued design pieced together from bright colored fabrics. Some were quite elaborate in composition. Another method was to lay cords of soft cotton or candle wicking between the top and the lining and quilt them in by a row of stitches on each side. Either method made a most durable and comfortable bed covering. See QUILTING.

Woven. Coverlet weaving was practiced in all of the colonies from New Hampshire to Georgia from early 18th century to the middle of the 19th. They were woven on a hand loom in two strips, usually about thirty inches wide and of the desired length, and then sewed together to make a spread. The warp was usually of white cotton or linen and the woof of colored wool, grown, spun, dyed and woven into the coverlets by the housewife. Blue and red were the favored colors, but yellow, green and brown were also used. These colors were obtained from home-made vegetable dyes and have retained their brilliancy unfaded.

CRETONNE: A French substitute for chintz, heavier, and not in common use until about 1860. It is an unglazed cotton fabric, printed on one side.

CREWEL-WORK: Embroidery in wool on linen. The word is derived from the German Knau2, meaning a ball of wool. This was a type of embroidery that met with great favor in England and the American colonies in the 18th century. Such work was used for curtains, cushions, bedhangings, and for table covers. It continued in popularity until well into the 19th century. See EMBROIDERY.

CROCHET: A form of needlework, employing silk, wool or cotton and a hook or needle, and for some years in the 19th century it was the most popular of all of the various forms of fancy needlework.

CROSS-STITCH: Probably the oldest stitch known for use on a woven material, formed by two stitches, crossing at right angles.

CUPBOARD CLOTHS: Used in England and here in Colonial times to cover the tops of cupboards, on which it was customary to display china, pewter or glass. Frequently mentioned in inventories of the 17th century.

CUSHIONS: Cases of woven stuff, leather or needlework, filled with hair, feathers or down.

CUT-WORK: The forerunner of certain lace stitches and used for the decoration of household linens and clothes. It appeared in France as early as the 16th century and it is found on early English embroideries, also. See EMBROIDERY.