Tag Archives: cotton batiste

Glossary: Cotton Batiste

Batiste is a fabric made from cotton, a natural fiber. For more information, see the entry Glossary: Cotton Fiber. Bastiste is plain woven and usually semi-sheer, but sometimes entirely sheer or only slightly sheer. It is similar to, but usually not as sheer as, cotton voile. It is also similar to handkerchief-weight linen lawn. Modern cotton lawn is also similar to cotton batiste, although sometimes cotton lawn is lighter and sheerer, more like voile. Much of the batiste readily available today is polyester, unfortunately. However, cotton is still available. Sometimes silk batiste is also sold, which I suspect is similar to, or the same as, silk habotai.

Whatever Happened to Muslin?
Modern cotton voile and cotton batiste, as well as other sheer specialty cotton fabrics, can be used in place of historical muslin. Very different from our stiff, short-staple, modern utility muslin, in the 18th and 19th centuries, “muslin” denoted a family of lightweight cotton fabrics, which were usually white. Muslins were woven from fine, long staple cotton fibers, and ranged from semi-sheer to completely transparent. It is also important to note that over the early to mid 19th century, fabrics which had once been exclusively or typically linen increasingly came to be made of cotton, while sometimes still being called by the same names, for instance cambric.

Definitions of batiste and muslin from a variety of print resources, each of which contains further information:

There is no reference to batiste, but on page 41, this book states that “‘Muslin’ denotes a group of lightweight cotton fabrics, generally white. The sample shown here is a corded muslin, striped in the warp. Checked muslins were woven similarly, with heavier threads spaced in between the warp and weft. Other varieties of muslin included book muslin, jaconette, mull, nainsook, and muslinet, all denoting degrees of drape, weight, and transparency. Except for book muslin, which was always plain woven, these various muslins could be pattern woven in stripes, checks, or figures, or plain woven. Any of these varieties might be printed with small motifs, or embroidered with dots, sprigs, or more elaborate designs.”

In discussing cotton fabrics for use in authentic reproduction sewing of mid-19th century styles, on page 59 it is stated that “In fashion descriptions, ledgers, and advertisements, you’ll see many references to cotton muslin. This is not the same textile as found for 99¢ in chain fabric stores! Modern cotton muslin is much heavier than period muslin, which was a fine, long staple cotton fabric, and was most often quite sheer. To approximate historic muslin for living history use, look to textiles like imported sheer batiste, organdy, barred voile, dimity, and other very delicate, sheer articles.”

The glossary entry for “Batiste” on page 175 defines it as “French origin, fine quality cloth of cotton or flax [linen], color is ecru if of cotton, gray if of flax.” Note that this definition does not entirely apply to the modern material known as batiste, which is often sold both bleached white and in colors.

The glossary entry for “Muslin” on page 178 defines it as “stout, light, open cotton fabric of varying fineness, used for summer dresses, plain, printed, dyed, dotted. A general term used for similar fabrics as lawn, mull, cambric.”

Also on page 178, the glossary defines “mull” as “soft, thin muslin with no stiffening;” “book muslin” as “stiffly finished, light cotton fabric in a gauze weave;” “dotted muslin” as “muslin with small circles or dots on it;” “lawn” as “very fine linen or cotton fabric with a somewhat open texture, used for the sleeves of Church of England bishops, and for dresses” (see also Glossary: Linen Lawn). On page 175, the glossary defines “cambric” as “thin, fine, white linen fabric.”

The entry for “batiste” on page 159 redirects to the entry for “cambric.” The entry for “Cambric,” on page 187, states that cambric is “batiste” in French, an defines it as “A fine white linen cloth in plain weave.”

On page 304, “Muslin” is defined as “A fine cotton textile first made in India.” The entry also notes that “Book muslin (book calico) is a name derived from the booklike form in which some of the finer calicoes were folded and marketed in India.” The entry for muslin includes a “see also” reference to “mull,” which is defined on page 303 as “Soft, fine white cotton imported from India from the seventeenth century.”

Online Resources:

For more information about an individual fiber, fabric, or other material, select it on the right side menu for “Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials.” This will bring up all entries which have that tag, including (in most cases) a Glossary post like this one, which will offer a definition of that fiber, fabric, or material, and sometimes also offer useful links to outside sources on working with it. For more general information, visit the core entry for the Glossary: Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials. For a directory of all textile glossary posts, go to the Glossary Table of Contents.

Updated January 10, 2012

Glossary: Cotton Fiber

Cotton is a natural fiber which comes from a plant. Many different fabrics are made from cotton fiber, including voile, batiste, organdy, calico, sateen, flannel, jean, and a wide variety of other fabrics.

“Cotton is a vegetable seed fiber. Botanically, the fibers are the protective covering of the seeds in the cotton plant, a shrub that grows from four to six feet high. Dry cotton fiber is from 88 percent to 96 percent cellulosic.” (Ingham and Covey, The Costume Technician’s Handbook, page 62)

“Under magnification, cotton (a staple fiber) appears like a twisted ribbon. This twist is what makes cotton easy to spin. Cotton is weaker than flax, but its ease of manufacture quickly overcame that deficiency. Cotton is absorbent and thus comfortable to wear in hot weather.” (Bassett, Textiles for Regency Clothing 1800-1850, page 14)

“Extremely versatile in weight, texture, and construction. Found in fabric such as organdy, broadcloth, poplin, terry, corduroy, seersucker, denim, tweed. Used widely for summer wear, work clothes, and in heavier weights, for warm transitional garments.” (Butterick, Vogue Sewing, page 50)

“Cotton is cool, washable, appropriate to nearly all [mid 19th century living history] impressions in some way, and comes in a wide variety of colors and well-researched prints. Cottons fade with laundering and sun exposure, and tend to wear out more quickly than other fibers. It’s an economical choice for everyday or ‘wash’ garments.” (Clark, The Dressmaker’s Guide, 2nd ed., page 54)

For more information about an individual fiber, fabric, or other material, select it on the right side menu for “Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials.” This will bring up all entries which have that tag, including (in most cases) a Glossary post which will offer a definition of that fiber, fabric, or material, and sometimes also offer useful links to outside sources on working with it. For more general information, visit the core entry for the Glossary: Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials. For a directory of all textile glossary posts, go to the Glossary Table of Contents.

Glossary Entries for Cotton Fabrics:

Online Resources:

Print Resources: See the article Glossary: Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials for a list of print resources.

Updated January 10, 2012

1860s collar of white cotton batiste

Garment

1860s undersleeves of white cotton batiste

Garment

1830s straw bonnet with plaid silk ties and white trimmings

Inspiration: My need for a charmingly enormous 1830s bonnet to go with my fashion plate gown; I’m not imitating any specific bonnet trimming style
Form:  Purchased reproduction straw form from Timely Tresses, of ivory-colored hemp braid in their 1835-1840 Frivolia style
Brim Lining:  White silk taffeta or habotai (which I still need to procure)
Crown Lining:  White cotton batiste
Ties and Ribbon Trim:  Plaid silk taffeta in cornsilk yellow, dove gray, and white, purchased at Delectable Mountain Cloth, which I will cut into wide (6″ plus) ribbons and turn narrow hand-stitched hems on.
Outer Trimmings:  Puffing and possibly a bow of the plaid taffeta ribbon, one large white ostrich feather from Timely Tresses.
Trimmings Inside Brim: Three bunches of white velvet lily and two bunches of ivory/yellow velvet violets from Timely Tresses (though I may move one of the bunches to the outside of the bonnet)
Thread:  TBD
Construction:  Linings and trimmings will be entirely hand-sewn, though I believe that the form itself is machine-stitched.
Current Status: I’ve ordered the form and trimmings, but currently all I have for this project is the fabric to be made into ribbons (which I’ve had for over a year, since I originally intended to make this bonnet as part of my 1830s clothing independent study). Since I’m using a straw form rather than buckram, as I’d originally intended, it should go together fairly quickly, so hopefully I can manage to finish my bonnet by my Div III final meeting – or at least by graduation!

Print resources for 1830s bonnets:

Grayscale fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets, all dating from 1832: Figure 41 on page 70; Figures 42 and 43 on page 71; Figure 44 on page 72.

Grayscale fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets, 1838-1840, pages 2-7. There are no color plates dated earlier than 1841.

There are schematic drawings of, and notes about, an extant bonnet on page 140; the bonnet is described as a “Large WHITE SILK BONNET; Trimmed white satin and pale blue ribbons” and appears to be the same bonnet as on pages 26-27 of Hats and Bonnets by Althea Mackenzie, where it is shown in photographs. Together, these sources offer a great deal of information about this bonnet, which is unusually well-preserved. Mackenzie dates the bonnet to the late 1820s. See entry for that book below for more information.

Images of extant 1830s bonnets on fully dressed mannequins: straw on page 190, silk-covered on page 191, page 194 (same bonnet/mannequin as page 190, from another angle), straw on 196/197 (same bonnet from two angles in two pictures).

In the first section of image plates, following page 32: there is a photograph dated “Summer 1840,” of a woman in a late 1830s style large bonnet, either drawn silk or with a shirred silk lining, plate 3; there is also a photograph of “Queen Victoria’s going-away bonnet after her marriage on 10 February 1840,” plate 4.

“Chapter XXI. The Art of the Milliner, or the Mode of making Hats, Toques, &c.” encompasses pages 522 through 564. It offers a great deal of useful information, translated and edited from 1820s and 1830s sources. Included is detailed information on trim, such as how to make different types of bows and ribbon trimmings, and about different types of ornaments. There are very few images, and most are of 1820s hats, but this section is overall a useful informational reference.

Grayscale fashion plates of full ensembles: Figure 51, dated 1834, on page 89; Figure 52, dated 1835, on page 89; Figure 55, dated c. 1837, on page 90; Figure 56, dated July 1837, the popular image of the seated woman in corset with a standing dressed woman beside her, on page 91; Figure 57, dated November 1838, on page 92; Figure 58, dated 1839, on page 92.

The text on “Women’s Bonnets” is on pages 158-162, including hoods and a caleche (or calashe). The associated plate is plate 20. There is some useful information about how to go about lining, covering, and trimming a bonnet. There is also a section on “Straw Plaiting” at the end of the book, on pages 278-290. This book can also be accessed online, so direct links to pages and plates are included.

Extant bonnets: a silk-covered bonnet from the 1820s or 1830s, page 47; a silk-covered bonnet dated “early 1830s,” page 51; a large drawn bonnet, c. 1836.

Fashion plates with bonnets: from Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1830, page 51; fashion plates including bonnets, c. 1830, pages 52 and 53; fashion plate, 1835, page 54; fashion plate with drawn bonnet, 1836, page 55.

Introduction, pages 4-5. Information on straw plaits, with photographs, pages 24-25. Enormous silk-covered bonnet of the late 1820s with intact puffs of ribbon, pages 26-27. Leghorn bonnet, 1830-35, with trims added later, pages 28-29. Winter bonnet, 1830-40, covered in novelty fabric, with a cream satin lining with a gathered strip around the brim edge, pages 30-31. Bonnet of the later, closer-fitting shape, dated “Late 1830s – 40s,” with interesting applied striped ribbon decorations, pages 32-33. Information on trimmings, specifically ribbons, with photographs, pages 34-35. Glossary, page 94.

Note: Futher information on the late 1820s silk-covered bonnet is available on page 140 of Nancy Bradfield’s Costume in Detail. There are schematic drawings of, and notes about, an extant bonnet; the bonnet is described as a “Large WHITE SILK BONNET; Trimmed white satin and pale blue ribbons” and appears to be the same bonnet as on pages 26-27 of Hats and Bonnets by Althea Mackenzie, where it is shown in photographs. Together, these sources offer a great deal of information about this bonnet, which is unusually well-preserved.

Full color fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets, 1838-1840: plates 2-5, of which 2 and 3 are both double plates. Plate 6 is also dated 1840, but only evening styles, with evening headdresses, are pictured; there are no bonnets.

The plate shown on page 8 and described on page 9 is dated to c. 1842, but the style of the clothing is quite similar to fashions of the late 1830s, including the large bonnet, so it is useful for reference. The bonnet’s wide ribbon ties are left untied.

Two extant 1830s straw bonnets are shown on mannequins in 1830s gowns, page 34. Extant wedding bonnet of “cream silk with cream crêpe trimming and artificial lilacs 1835-39” shown on a table in a period room, along with a dummy head and a “milliner’s wooden delivery box 1820-50,” pages 87-88. Presumably the same wedding bonnet, shown with a veil, on a mannequin in an 1837 wedding dress, page 91.

Print resources for general millinery, not necessarily period:

This book is less likely to be useful, since it is geared for making hats more-or-less contemporary to the 1960s publication date. However, there is some good general information about materials and techniques.

Online resources, specifically collection photographs of extant bonnets:
(I have organized these roughly chronologically, based on the overall shape. As nearly as I can tell, the angle of the crown related to the brim, at the top, started out fairly acute with early bonnets of the regency era and 1820s, often around a right angle – more like a hat – and around the middle of the 1830s became gradually more obtuse [yes, geometry is relevant to bonnets!], eventually smoothing out completely in styles of the very late 1830s and the 1840s, including the “coal scuttle” bonnet.)