Quality over quantity, this catchy saying should be the anthem to all shoppers. If someone buys multiple pieces of a fabric that will only last a couple of washes and wears instead of one item that lasts forever, over time they end up with less clothes and more money spent. Suffice to say, nobody should leave a shopping spree with more than one polyester item. Items worth spending money on are linen, cotton (preferably calicos), silk, and anything embroidered, due to their durability and of course their style.
To start off the list of worthy textiles is linen. Popularized in Europe centuries ago, this textile is now common all over the world. This lightweight, soft fabric is heavenly to sport in the summer months. If ones sweats while wearing linen, who cares! It can be washed over and over again without harming the fabric. Also, linen is so lightweight that if the slightest breeze blows by you can feel it through the fabric. In today’s world, one can find linen in almost any color and embroidery as well.
Cotton, the patriarch of all textiles. Cotton can be used for almost anything and is by far the most important textile in the world, as it was historically. It’s multiple uses and perfection caused a craze throughout Europe in the early modern period. Look in anyone’s closet anywhere in the world and one will find cotton. The garments cotton make up range anywhere from $1 t-shirts from discount stores to blouses from the most elite designers. Cotton can take any dye, never fades, and can be washed multiple times without fear of destroying the garment. Designs, such as calico, can be printed or painted onto the cotton textile to add a stylish flare. Cotton is very often the surface of embroidery, as it does not usually shrink. Cotton is not only used for garments one wears, but also is the material of items that furnish homes.
Silk is the most prestigious of all textiles. It costs the most, looks the nicest, and is one of the most comfortable. These reasons caused the high demand of silk among the wealthy Europeans in the early modern period. If one has not felt silk on their skin they are missing out big time. The texture is extremely silky (no pun intended) and smooth. Silk also accepts dyes and patterns really well. Dry cleaning is a must for silk textiles, which is extremely costly, but for the most part worth it. Back in the early modern era, consumers did not have the luxury of dry cleaners, thus cleaning silk for them was much more difficult. Silk back then also cost much more than it did today. While silk is a very expensive fabric, more than just the upper class can now obtain this textile. Clearly, as demand of silk increased, the price slowly decreased so more and more people could afford these silk textiles
Embroidered textiles are like Christmas trees. Underneath all the ornaments and decorations is a plain, boring tree. Linen tops, flannel blankets, cotton sweatshirts, rain slickers, backpacks, quilted vests, sneakers, pillowcases, and silk sleeping masks are just a few commonly embroidered items. Embroidery usually holds up well on most textiles, but the best textiles for embroidery are cotton and linen. Linen does not shrink, so one does not have to worry about having the embellishment get destroyed in the wash. Cotton is the easiest item to embroider because of its low price as a textile and its durability. Traditionally, in the early modern era, linen items would be embroidered in silk thread, which in the centuries since then has become less common. Embroidery can range from initials, to dates of something memorable, to stitch work. Embroidered textiles are extremely common throughout the world, all with different processes and designs in different cultures. Originally, only upper classes could afford embroidered textiles due to the cost associated with paying one to take time to design an original item for a client, but today most people can afford embroidery. One monogrammed item ranges from ten to fifteen dollars a monogram. Technology and high demand has lead to the decline of prices, and thus the overwhelming increase in embroidered items.
These four fabrics, linen, cotton calicos, silk, and embroidered textiles are all worth spending money on. Any mother would approve of these textiles, due to their phenomenal quality. If you find yourself in a dressing room trying on rayon or polyester just ask the question, would my mother approve of this, set the item down, and leave. Do not ever think it is acceptable to purchase multiple items of cheap quality. Always remember quality over quantity.
While these may seem like personal opinions, they are not. Quality, durability, and style are analyzed in all texts used for this research. Please continue on, as the history of these textiles and why they are so successful today are discovered. If so inclined, there are scholarly recommended readings attached to the bottom of the page.