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New Pathways into Quilt History written by Kimberly Wulfert, www.antiquequiltdating.com

Sayings We Have Generated 
from our Textile Heritage

Parts of this collection were taken from the
Quilt History List and Vintage Fabrics on-line lists.  

The name of the contributor follows the definition given. 

Thank you all!  Please send others you may know about to build the list.

DIED IN THE WOOL Dead wool is another name for pulled wool;
I believe pulled replaced dead as a gentler description.
I figured everyone on this list would know
dyed in the wool so didn't mention it. (Joan Kiplinger) 

As a spinner, I have dyed in the wool, which is to say that I have dyed  fibers before they are spun into the yarn.  This process makes yarn
 colored through the whole ply instead of being "surface dyed" - hence if
 you are a "dyed in the wool" quiltmaker - you are a quiltmaker through
 and through instead of a dead one! Please pardon the mixed metaphor.
(Julia Zgliniec)

There is an earlier name for shoddy which is now a part of our everyday language. During the middle ages in England  one of the fine fairs looked forward to each year was the one in St. Audrey's where merchants plied their best cloth and later on other goods. As guilds increased and loom technology improved, better local marketing options became available so persons did not have to travel so far to sell or to buy.  Thus St. Audrey's fair became a site for junk 
--poor quality cloth, then other cheap merchandise. Buzz word among 
merchants to denote such poor cloth and other 
goods sold atthat fair as well as other similar fairs was "it's a St. Audrey".  
Now, remember the English elision of words -- the town to our ears 
would have been pronounced t'awdry which of course today is tawdry and 
still conveys sleazy cheap. (Joan Kiplinger)

 Shoddy is also used to describe remanufactured cloth that was made from
 unraveling or tearing apart the older cloth or garments and mixing the
 fibers with other new fibers and remanufacturing (spinning and weaving)
 into new cloth. These were inferior fabrics, materials, goods, stuffs -
 hence shoddy came to mean poorly made or of inferior quality. (Julia Zgliniec)

Its a shame also that 'shoddy' came to mean low-grade goods, when it started
out as respectable re-cycling, the shredded fibers of old cloth being made
into a very firm and impervious fabric which I believe served
for soldiers and policemen’s uniforms here in the UK right up until the
advent of modern lightweight breathable and water repellent fabrics. (Sally Ward)

 When Ken Burns did his excellent PBS series on the Civil War, one "fact"
that was reported was that the term shoddy came to mean poor quality
when war profiteering resulted in Union Army uniforms of such poor
quality that they literally fell apart when they were worn. (Xenia Cord)

         linen closet where the contents are rarely linen
heirloom denoting the importance
and value of woven fabric
flaxen-haired or towheaded

referring of course to the color of flax
being on tenterhooks in suspense or under tension, from hooks on a tenter, used to stretch cloth
(Xenia Cord, the 4 above)
    something is fair to middling  
fair middling being the highest grade of 9 grades of cotton;
middling being no. 5 and the standard by which all 
grades are measured  (Joan Kiplinger)

We have Lords Raglan and Cardigan to thank for their fashion statements from their regimental uniform designs made for the Crimean War which were and are the raglan sleeve and cardigan jacket or neckline. (Joan Kiplinger)

 "Let's get down to brass tacks" - In a mercantile store, there were brass tacks placed along the edge of the wooden counter, on the clerk's side. They were strategically placed at 0,1/4 yd, 1/2 yd, 3/4 yd and 1 yard or some variation, more or less. When the lady was finished shopping for ribbon, material, or trims, she said to the clerk "ok, let's get down to brass tacks."
(Kim Wulfert)

Watch your footing - from the days when edgings, called footing, were attached to hems of long skirts and petticoats  to protect the fabric from both shoes and ground. When lifting the skirt to step off  a curb or using the stairs for example, one needed to watch where one’s foot was placed lest it catch on footing.

Distaff - women in general or maternal 
as in distaff side of the family.
Spinners should be familiar with this.

after John D'Oyley who is credited
with making the first fringed table napkin and which now refers to any small table covering. 
(These three all by Joan Kiplinger)

get a move on - When  [William] Perkins discovered his lavender dye in 1856 it caused a sensation. The French being French called the color mauve and thus it has been ever since. The color sprouted everywhere from Queen Victoria's dress she wore to the Great Exhibition of 1862 to penny postage stamps to even the London bobbies directing loiterers to "get a mauve on." 
(Natural Dyes and Home Dyeing by Rita Adrosko for the United States National Museum of History and Technology, 1971, entered by Joan Kiplinger)

riginally applied to the annual allowance given to women by their husbands 
or guardians for the purchase of pins. In the nineteenth century supplemental 
income earned from the sale of needlework became "pin money."  
Americans relied on English imports of pins until the War of 1812 
restricted imports making supplies scarce. During the war,

convicts at the Greenwich Village State Prison in New York City began manufacturing pins under the direction of some English entrepreneurs. They continued production until the end of the war when imports resumed. In 1832 John J. Howe patented the first successful American pin machine 
and twenty years later introduced a machine to
mount them in sheets for retail sale.
Kim Wulfert from "Pin-Money” in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, January 1853.)

An earlier explanation for pin money: As pins were homemade, there was often a scarcity and this drove up prices. Many a feudal lord created or increased his serf's taxes so he could afford money to pay for pins. To stem the hoarding and overindulgence of pins, a law was passed in Britain in the late Middle Ages to allow pinmakers to sell only on certain days of the year. This enabled the upper and lower-classes to save and have enough pin money at market time. Once pins began to be mass produced by machine, prices plummeted and pin money was devalued to mean a wife's pocket money. Buttons started to be used gradually on the aristocracy's clothes in the late 1200s and by the 16th century all but replaced pins. (Joan Kiplinger- go to http://fabrics.net/joan101.asp where Joan tells you more about about zippers, straight pins, buttons, snaps, hooks& eyes and needles)



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© 2002 - 2016 Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Absolutely no copies, reprints, use of photos or text are permitted for commercial or online use. One personal copy for study purposes is permitted.

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