Bombazines Away!

The dictionary is one big book. This morning, while poking along in mid-B, what should appear but “bombazine”. Bombazine is a fabric originally made of silk or silk and wool. Quality bombazine, according to Wiki, is made with a silk warp and a worsted weft. Black bombazine was once used largely for mourning wear, but the material had gone out of fashion by the beginning of the 20th century. The name comes from our pals, the French.

Pendletonian wool shirtcloth

The name, bombazine, got me to thinking about cloth, and how many names there are for types of fabric. There’s Chintz, which from its onetime wild popularity and overuse, gave us the word “chintzy”. There’s a heavy cotton material, a type of canvas, called “duck”. Duck? I’ve got a duck Carhartt jacket in the mudroom closet. Maybe you do too.

Quack quack quack

If you ever read the “Little House on the Prairie” books, you may recall references to Ma’s or sister Mary’s “lawn dress”. That wasn’t because they were living in a sod house. Lawn was a fairly common dress fabric of those “Little House” times. When lawn is made using combed yarns, it acquires a softer feel and slight luster, and is known as “nainsook”.

This shirt once belonged to a fifteen-years-ago boyfriend of my wife's daughter. I never met him. He was a nice kid, and a smart kid, but the pair broke up. Somehow or somewhy, he never reclaimed the garment. It was too big for my wife, so I ended up with it. The boy's mother is a shrink, and the dad's a scientist. The boy ended up marrying an Asian woman, which may be fitting, since this shirt was made in India.

There is a Vineyard connection to the cloth “satinet”. Satinet was at one time made in West Tisbury. The material is a hard-wearing wool or wool blend fabric. The garden club’s old mill, next to the dam at the Mill Pond in West Tisbury, was built in the 1700s, to serve as a grist mill.  The mill was subsequently purchased by David Look in 1809, when it was converted to the manufacture of this cloth. Does anyone on the Vineyard still have a piece of this locally made wondercloth?

Amana woolen cloth

Below is a short list of cloth names, A’s and B’s only. These cloth types were taken from a list of 289. There’s a whole alphabet’s worth more, finishing with “zibeline”, which is a soft, piled wool.



















And, bombazine!

You could write a book on all the different types of cloth. Heck, an encyclopedia.

Rugs are cloth, too. Find the birdies!

Greetings from your weft-wing, warped-minded logophile.

Third from the right is a famously rude college necktie.


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