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Fabrics Muslin
Muslin originally mussolo, named after the cry of Mosul on the river Tigris in Iraq (near the ancient city of Ninev@h), where the fabric was made. Muslin is a general name covering a broad spectrum of fine cotton materials ranging from the sheerest organza to a heavier cotton for curtaining and, in the USA, for shirts and bedding. The French name mousseline derives from the early cotton fabrics which came from Mosul in the eighteenth century. These had an uneven texture which resembled foam (mousse). In the seventeenth century delicate muslins began to be imported into western Europe from India and became fashionable materials, especially in the second half of the eighteenth century. Particular named muslins include:

Adatis - a fine Indian muslin; the best quality came from Bengal.

Dorea - an East Indian striped muslin.

Madras - named after the Indian city (see Madras).

Mull - a lightweight material used in the nineteenth century which could be muslin or silk.

Nainsook - a heavier, soft Indian muslin, usually striped. Muff A soft bag with an opening at each end into which the hands may be thrust to keep them warm. Muffs were carried from the later sixteenth century onwards. Until the 1790s both men and women used them but after this the muff was regarded as a feminine accessory. Muffs have varied greatly in size and materials. Most seventeenth and eighteenth century muffs were large, nine- teenth century ones were smaller and by the 1880s they were dainty. Fur was the most usual material, padded, then lined with silk or velvet. Other materials used included embroidered or beaded --ilk, satin and velvet, feathers and down or gold and silver cloth. Decoration was by ribbons, lace and flouncing. Though always a useful accessory, muffs have also been carried as an item of elegance and fashion.

organdie (Organdy) - a fine, plain muslin, slightly stiffened. organza - a sheer, slightly stiffened muslin used especially for diaphanous wedding garments.

Swiss - a sheer, crisp muslin ornamented with self-colour or contrasting dots.

Tariatan - a thin, open-weave muslin, heavily stiffened. Widely used in the nineteenth century as a stiffening under full skirts.

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2006 March 28