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The Linen Press

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To those who love housekeeping or who feel an interest in it for duty's sake, the charge of linen and the great care it requires is one of equal importance with the store-closet. It is a pity to trust to finding a linen-closet in any house. If you do find one in a house that has been occupied it forms part of that delightful category of articles and fixtures which demand a premium. Therefore we should advise people when they furnish to have a really good linen-closet made of cedar wood or polished pine just as you would require a sideboard or a book-case. Do not have more than five shelves It is a great mistake to have too high a linen-press; the upper shelves only get covered with dust. A portable linen-press and a portable store-closet are two very necessary comforts in a house for they can be put into the regulation "smoking room" and are much more convenient to the mistress of a house when placed there than in the basement and it also saves a great deal of labor to servants. We always feel that it is more comfortable to have linen stores and extra glass and china on the dining-room floor, if we can possibly manage it.


Nothing does a lady more credit in housekeeping than her linen-press and how any woman who has not a housekeeper can engage the present ordinary style of housemaid to take charge of the linen we cannot imagine, that is, if she has any pride in her house and table linen. There is a good deal of mind and refinement needed in the care and arrangement of a linen-press.


Young and inexperienced housekeepers must remember that no good housekeeping can be done without taking pains and trouble nor without great industry. As to the first purchasing of house and table linen it is not a difficult thing to advise others about. It is so different from quantities of bread meat and groceries which of course vary in every house but with the exception of a larger or smaller number of beds the same arrangement of linen is required in every gentleman's house.


To begin with old linen: for years we have adopted plan of giving the members of the family their own and distinct set of sheets, bolster-cases and pillow-cases also bedroom-towels and in addition to the name of the master of the house, we put the name of the individual whose bed and room it is for. Of course in the case of the servants things, we put their particular calling as a mark and not their personal names, as they are like Easter movable feasts. For every member of the family have three pairs of sheets for every servant have two pairs and for wear, color and comfort have linen. Cotton sheets never look well and like cretonne they pick up every particle of dust and as to their being better for health we think as long as we wear long cloth night dresses we are sufficiently protected in the matter of health. No linen is so pretty as the Irish but for long wear and for improving in washing none can excel the Yorkshire. For each member of the family we would therefore recommend Barnsley linen sheeting, sufficient for three pairs for each bed.


For each person have two bolster-cases and six pillow-cases, these eight articles to be made for beauty's sake of Irish linen. For each member of the family have twelve towels. Let four be Turkish or bath towels of linen, four of strong huckaback and four embossed. In buying toweling by the yard, allow thirteen yards to a dozen towels as the hems reduce a yard too much. For each visitor's room we consider two pairs of sheets sufficient and let them be of Irish linen. Visitors must have clean sheets each week but a fortnight is a reasonable time for all the others. For each servant have two pairs of sheets of strong Barnsley linen. If you prefer cotton, do not get that make that used to be called Bolton sheeting, for one way of the threads is so much stronger than the other that it wears badly. For cotton sheeting nothing wears so well as twilled cotton.


Give each servant three pillow-cases of strong linen. Never have strings to your pillow cases always buttons and button holes very close together. For each servant have four huckaback towels. Cover all pillows and bolsters with long cloth or linen sewed on and once a year have it picked off and washed. Cover palliasses, mattresses and feather beds with glazed brown Holland {an unbleached linen} made to fit and button and once a year have them cleaned and re-calendered.


Potter's American Monthly 1881

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