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11097Re: Questions for costumers

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  • Christina_Lemke@hotmail.com
    Jul 31, 2001
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      In my experience, linen bleaches very quickly. It even bleaches when
      you really want it to keep the nice unbleached oatmeal colour and
      incidentially leave it in the sun. It can really be bleached to white
      using traditional means (water and sunlight). When you leave it in a
      cupboard or chest for a while it will become grey (not beige) but it
      can be bleached to white again.

      The white linen shirts lace, etc. from various periods that I have
      seen in museums were also really white and not beige, as far as I
      could tell with the usual dim lighting that one encounters in
      exhibitions of antique textiles. And I don't think that all those
      museum curators used harsh chemicals to make their linen look nice
      and white.

      Where did you find information about chemicals being used for
      bleaching before 1600? Towns and villages, especially those with
      rivers or streams, usually had bleaching greens, meadows for the
      explicit purpose of bleaching linen, a practice that continued well
      into the 20th century. AFAIK it was only in Victorian times that
      chemicals began to be used for bleaching, sometimes with disastrous
      results - clothes that were bleached with a certain substance (I
      forget which) in Victorian times will now dissolve into mush when
      they come in contact with water.

      BUT - a sunbleached item won't look as white as something that comes
      out of your washing machine. This is because modern detergents
      contain "optical whiteners", substances that catch UV rays and
      convert them to light in the humanly visible range and make the
      garment radiate light and thus look extremely white to our eyes.

      Best regards,

      Christina

      --- In Authentic_SCA@y..., ivinian@h... wrote:
      > Artwork does show linens to be rather white for nobles. Snow white,
      > to my (admittedly not very acute anymore) eyes. The paintings of
      > servants and other sorts, however, does seem to veer more toward
      > ivory, but that might be lighting. I've looked at paintings myself
      to
      > get a feel for color, and that's about all I can say. Guesses
      > regarding shades of white seem to consolidate around this:
      >
      > It's POSSIBLE to get linens pure white with period laundering (sun
      > bleaching and chemical preparations), but it requires time and
      > effort. A regular joe's family probably doesn't have either. A
      noble
      > can afford to pay somebody to make his whites white and his brights
      > bright, so his linens are pure white. But white does appear to have
      > been the general sought-after goal.
      >
      > Aoda
      >
      > --- In Authentic_SCA@y..., Stephan Barratt <cannoneer@s...> wrote:
      > > I have a couple of questions for the garb experts on the list.
      > > First- How white is white? I seem to get varying research on
      > this. Some
      > > appears to say what we would call snow white is possible with
      > period
      > > bleaches, some says no, only a light ivory would be possible,
      with
      > most
      > > fabric being closer to natural unbleached, undyed linen. Add to
      > this
      > > research which indicates that ruffs and collars were starched
      with
      > a yellow
      > > starch, even though the art work shows white. to put this in
      > context, I'm
      > > looking at 1450-1600, middle class, yeoman, captain of artillery-
      > NOT nobility.
      > >
      > > Second- What do you know of an Elizabethan riding garment called
      a
      > > safeguard? I've seen references to a pant like garment that is
      so
      > wide in
      > > each leg as to be nearly indistinguishable from a skirt. Others
      > seem to
      > > think is is almost a bag like thing that goes over a skirt. Any
      > clues?
      > >
      > > Thanks!!
      > >
      > > Roderic Hawkyns
      > > Master Gunner
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