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! why line clothing? why did we stop?

 
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Crazy questions eating my brain like an earworm this morning.  Why did a lot of clothing have linings?  When did lining clothing start?  What does it do?  Why don't most clothing have lining any more?

Google is useless at extracting the worm from my brain - it seems to think I want to read about quilting not clothing.  
 
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“Lining” evolved from the Latin word linum, or flax - essentially, lined garments mimic the layering of wool or other fabrics over a linen under layer. Linen was more washable than silk and fine wool and cheaper to replace/repair, so it also made sense in elaborate clothing to line things like bodices with linen on the side closer to the body - it would take more of the sweat, wear and tear and protect the fancier stuff. If you wanted to strengthen/thicken a piece, too, using linen as backing layers made more sense than using pricier stuff that wouldn’t be seen.

In things like cloaks, a lining could be for warmth (like fur facing inward) or even just fashionable contrast.

In modern days, lining as a fashion choice changes how clothing hangs. The friction between layers of cloth is different than between skin and cloth - generally linings are smooth so the outer layers of things like dresses, skirts or blouse tops hang freer and don’t “cling”. This is especially relevant now that women generally don’t wear slips every day. Clothing nowadays is often designed to be form-fitting/clingy, so that’s less common but still around. We also don’t usually buy clothes (other than perhaps coats) with a lining as a protective layer designed to be repaired/replaced as it wears out, because fashion nowadays is more disposable.

For something like a wool jacket, a smooth lining makes it slide more easily over other clothing when you put it on. It also absorbs more of the sweat and friction from daily use, allowing for repair/replacement over time without altering the shell.

Hope this helps :)
 
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Jennifer Kowalski wrote:

For something like a wool jacket, a smooth lining makes it slide more easily over other clothing when you put it on.

At some point, linings shifted from being made of linen or silk to being made of artificial fabrics. Coupled with modern climate-controlled buildings, I found that the lining made static shocks worse and more common. I can't be sure if that's the only cause, but it's certainly one thing I've noticed. Certainly the facts that modern clothes are so cheap and difficult to mend and that the styles/colours change so fast, aren't helping.
 
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I think there would be lots of different reasons the first that springs to mind is warmth, our environment is warmer now so we don't need as many layers inside or while traveling the only time we need to keep warm is when we are outside for extended periods and clothes for that use still have linings, (coats ski pants etc)
Modesty a lot of fabrics are see through especially in good light, people were much more concerned about others seeing through their skirt back in the day than they are now.
And repair I don't think cleaning would have much to do with it as if it's a fixed lining you still have to wash the entire thing.
 
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I recently read a book about nineteenth century Japan that focused a lot on clothing.  The robes then were designed to be actually taken apart at the seem for washing, then sewn together again. (clearly people were not washing their clothes between each wear.) I expect with a lined robed you could have a lingin of a fabric which could take harsher wash conditions that the more showy outer layer. Or maybe the other way around?
 
Jennifer Kowalski
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Mk Neal wrote:I recently read a book about nineteenth century Japan that focused a lot on clothing.  The robes then were designed to be actually taken apart at the seem for washing, then sewn together again. (clearly people were not washing their clothes between each wear.) I expect with a lined robed you could have a lingin of a fabric which could take harsher wash conditions that the more showy outer layer. Or maybe the other way around?



The idea of deconstructing certain garments for cleaning or for salvage to turn into new garments makes sense when the cloth itself is more precious than the work of sewing it. I wonder if it also helped the seam strength (and thus stress on the fabric) to have it refreshed regularly too.

Planned deconstruction is one of the theories behind the very rectangle/triangle patterning in early European clothing, especially work clothes like tunics - along with less lost to waste in initial construction, you have nice large panels you can mix and match.

I always think of the scene in Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl, a favorite novel growing up, where the main character helps her once-rich but not-so-rich-now friend who is freaking out about the upcoming social season by deconstructing and reworking one of her silk gowns into a trendy style because the fabric still had “plenty of life” in it.
 
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I suspect one of the reasons it isn't so popular anymore is that often the lining and the outside don't wash the same. If things are machine washed, and one part shrinks and the other doesn't, it's a problem. I've experienced this a lot with place mats, and now, they don't lay flat.
 
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Also lining wool garments with a softer fabric would help keep the harsh wool from itching you - wool was not as soft back then.

Ever worn an army surplus sweater without an undershirt? After five minutes you would be begging for death.
 
Jay Angler
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Jennifer Kowalski wrote:

Planned deconstruction is one of the theories behind the very rectangle/triangle patterning in early European clothing, especially work clothes like tunics - along with less lost to waste in initial construction, you have nice large panels you can mix and match.

This is one of the reasons I started this thread:
https://permies.com/t/154258/sewing/fiber-arts/Clothing-patterns-based-rectangles

So I will shamelessly suggest to anyone reading this thread that they go and have a peak and if they know of any patterns not already shown there, or better information on how to calculate the sizing of some of the ones that are already shown ( that was an issue with the shirt I made, and one reason why I haven't yet tackled a pair of pants - I know I'm capable of doing the sewing, but I'd be a little ticked if I did all the work and it didn't fit or was way too bulky to work in practically ) that they pretty please post the info!
 
r ranson
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Something that comes to mind is layers of clothing.

Clothing next to the skin is exposed to acid, oil, and sweat, as well as wet friction.  This is one of the reasons why linen was so popular for underclothes, it could breathe and didn't mildew/stink/rot like cotton can.  

Whereas the clothing on the outside is exposed to mud, rain, dirt, food, and less constant wet rubbing than something say, under our armpit.  So it can be a different structure and material.  

wondering if this has any effect on the historical books (aka, pre-1950) that say "lining greatly increases the life of the clothing" (paraphrased).
 
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Back before washing machines, “washing” did not always mean doing the entire garment.

I recall being told this by a reliable person while I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism. (Www.sca.org) The SCA focuses upon Europe from 600-1600 AD. If I walked thru mud and dirtied the hem of my dress, I did not have to throw it in a washing machine. I could let it dry, brush away mud, then spot clean the stain.  

Get ready: my assumption is that this did not change until we had washing machines. Just like vacuum cleaners increased the number of times we clean a carpet, washing machines increased the number of times we washed clothing items.

As for clothing with linings: with my lined costumes, I was more likely to do a soak and gentle hand wash than put it in a washing machine.

I agree with many of the other posts above. Linings make clothing a little trickier to take proper care. That and cheaper materials and construction paved the way for fewer linings in modern clothing.
 
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In the old days when women wore slips under their dresses, there was trouble with static, too...
We either used a quick, light, single spritz of plain water onto the slip while dressing; or, for all-day effect, pinned a safety pin to the hem or seam of the slip, and sometimes one on the lowest seam of the dress.  
Some pinned them to both side seams, near the hems, which seemed to fully stop the issue of static cling and shocks.
Slips were used like the ancient "shifts", made of a finer, smoother woven cloth--those got washed more often than outer clothes. Slips helped clothing hang/drape better, and, if sunlight shown through, a slip could help obscure the body silhouette from showing.
Linings of clothing, have been not only to ease getting in/out of them, and cleaning/repairing, but also, linings can prevent seams of clothing from looking too bulky, if the lining is sewn in properly...helps the seams and edges lay flatter, and, helps prevent the seams fraying as much.
 
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Why don't most clothing have lining any more?


I would dare to say that it's for money. Sewing a lining takes money, increases cloth cost. Allegedly, the lining serves to increase the cloth life, so it could make some economic sense, but since we are supposed to purchase new clothes every year, it doesn't pay to increase the cloth price.
 
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Well, I have a different interpretation.

Most of the lined clothing of previous ages were of the type that was intended to be worn without an undershirt, or was outerwear intended for layering.

While we don't do lining so much anymore for a main outfit, the reason is that undershirts are so common these days, and half or so of my non-summer outerwear is still lined; so it's not like it's not a thing anymore.
 
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Most button-up shirts aren't fully lined these days.  Most skirts.  Most trousers aren't fully lined.  Most vests... Compared to 100 years ago, we have very few lined garments that are commonly available.

Even when my dad was growing up, it was standard for most clothing made from woven cloth to have a lining.

Which might be part of the issue.  Woven cloth.  Most clothes I see for sale these days are from knit structured fabric (like a T-shirt).    
 
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I have found the historical discussion of factors influencing textile production interesting. I’d like to offer one additional way to understand modern/ post-modern clothing production:
Most women in workforce throughout their working years + advertising + cheap labor outside the US = higher profits through volume production

I threw women into the equation because the quality of affordable women’s clothing, defined pretty much any way  you choose, has declined more than men’s, and because a really large part of women’s clothing budger is for  work clothes (which they wear to work at jobs where they make less money than men do).


I have been sewing clothes (and shopping for clothes) for neary 50 years. I have a cynical outlook on this topic. It is this: manufacturers save a lot if money by skipping the lining, in both materials and labor.  Good jackets  (suits and blazers, for both men and women) are still lined (although less often in women’s jackets) , and as a result hang better and wear better. Cheap ones are not. But despite the low price, volume sales ensure more than adequate profits. And once enough people, regardless of income, embraced the process of fast fashion, quality became a little less  important than quantity. When people buy fewer things and use them longer, they are willing to pay more and in return expect higher quality. But when garments are worn far fewer times before discarding them, quality doesn’t matter so much. Clothing is more disposable.  And by now, this all seems normal and expected to people younger than I am.

Here’s the rub: all of the changes to the clothing industry captured by the ‘fast fashion’ concept now make it difficult for people of average or lower means to wise up and trade quantity for quality. It is very difficult to find clothing that is well made using good materials and that is also classic enough in design to allow people to feel that they are not walking anachronisms. This is especially true for younger people and for people in white collar jobs earning median wages. The buying options may be out there, but are not always easy to find.  Add in a couple of kids,  maybe a spouse, time is short.

During the 1980’s I worked in an office, was a single parent to one kid, juggled college on the side, and just got by.  With only one child and having no money for babysitters outside of daycare for work/school (or besides, for doing what one does when they do have babysitters ), most of my free time was spent  at home. I made my work clothes.  And of course having spent that time and effort, i wasn’t quick to discard those garments.  Pretty good cotton and wool fabric was reasonably priced.  Good quality clothing was also still to be found in thrift stores. I still remember the Pendleton shirt collection I had back then, all found at the Purple  Heart Value Village.

But now that there is less good stuff made, there is less to be donated, and people may opt to sell the higher quality items online rather than donate.  So the pickings aren’t as good at the thrift stores, especially  for women’s garments unless you are looking for crappy knits made from synthetic fabrics  (so I head into the men’s section for my at home work duds: woven shirts that breathe!).  Fabric is expensive and sewing is time consuming.  Dang.

Yes, one can find decent stuff. But its hard. Its scarce. There’s just not enough.

Standard disclaimer: retired sociologist.
 
Jay Angler
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L Anderson wrote:

But now that there is less good stuff made, there is less to be donated, and people may opt to sell the higher quality items online rather than donate.  So the pickings aren’t as good at the thrift stores, especially  for women’s garments unless you are looking for crappy knits made from synthetic fabrics

I have definitely seen a drop in the quality of clothes available at second hand stores. Thankfully I live in an area with a large number of seniors who are downsizing and often have older clothing. Of course, the colours and style reflect that fact! Luckily, some of those styles can be altered, and I don't work off-property, so I don't need much "good" clothes. One of these days, I've got to sew a decent pair of pants though. I bought fabric to do so some time ago, but even it isn't nearly as heavy as similar fabric would have been 25 years ago.
 
Mk Neal
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L Anderson wrote:
Here’s the rub: all of the changes to the clothing industry captured by the ‘fast fashion’ concept now make it difficult for people of average or lower means to wide up and trade quantity for quality. It is very difficult to find clothing that is well made using good materials and that is also classic enough in design so that allows people to feel that they are not walking anachronisms. This is especially true for younger people and for people in white collar jobs earning median wages. The buying options may be out there, but are not always easy to find.  Add in a couple of kids,  maybe a spouse, time is short.



Exactly the problem. I grew up in the 80s/90s in a small town with 1-2 clothing stores, and what we didn't buy in town we bought in the next larger town which was still an under-100,000 market. We were a middle income family not into high fashion.  Still, I always had some lambs wool sweaters some silk shirts, and a lot of cotton, and these were things you could buy in a store catering to teens in a mall in a mid-sized town.  Now I live in a huge city, and in big department stores and stores catering to adult women it is a sea of polyester crap.  I had told my family that what I wanted for Christmas this year was a wool sweater, my husband looked at all the standard clothing stores before finally buying from 10,000 villages. He told me I was not exaggerating about the crap that fills up the women's clothing departments now.
 
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Isn't it ironic that the very qualities that made economic sense originally are out of favour currently? And that high-end classic fashion still values this construction method?
 
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I thought of something late last night while I was trying to sleep.

For most of history, the cost and labour involved in making cloth was considerably more than the cost of sewing cloth into clothing.

But as these reversed and cheap cloth became a thing, it looks like the start of not lining cloth as much.

So... lining cloth means more time to make clothing, but extends the life of the clothing enough to make it worth the extra effort?  
 
Abraham Palma
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Cd Greier wrote:Isn't it ironic that the very qualities that made economic sense originally are out of favour currently? And that high-end classic fashion still values this construction method?


I don't think so. This is just a consequence of too cheap a raw material. If you follow the logic of maximum benefit for all the involved actors, then a cheap raw material leads to low quality, then to mass production and huge amounts of sales. It0s even profitable for the final consumer: instead of purchasing one skirt that will last for 5 years, you can buy 3 skirts for the same price that will last 2 years each one. In the end, you expend less on clothing.

The hidden truth is that the raw material isn't as cheap as we pay for it. There's lots of hidden costs: pollution, resource depletion, globalisation, consumerism, overdeveloped societies, ... that are not included in the clothing bill.

High-end fashion is not scared about using high quality materials, since they know their customers aren't going to wear the same clothes for more than three months. Rather dead than simple!
 
L Anderson
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Abraham Palma wrote:

Cd Greier wrote:Isn't it ironic that the very qualities that made economic sense originally are out of favour currently? And that high-end classic fashion still values this construction method?


I don't think so. This is just a consequence of too cheap a raw material. If you follow the logic of maximum benefit for all the involved actors, then a cheap raw material leads to low quality, then to mass production and huge amounts of sales. It0s even profitable for the final consumer: instead of purchasing one skirt that will last for 5 years, you can buy 3 skirts for the same price that will last 2 years each one. In the end, you expend less on clothing.

The hidden truth is that the raw material isn't as cheap as we pay for it. There's lots of hidden costs: pollution, resource depletion, globalisation, consumerism, overdeveloped societies, ... that are not included in the clothing bill.
!



It seems to me that clothes got really cheap for awhile, then prices rose faster than inflation. But nit fast enough to really notice, nor to undermine the production/profit system. So for awhile, you could get your 3 2-year skirts fir the price of 1 5 year skirt. I’m not sure that still works. Its kind of like fast food and pumping your own gas. In return fir agreed to do some of the labor (clearing your own tables , or just driving by and not usung facilities at all), customers got lower prices. But now look.  The cheapest hamburger I can get at Carl’s Jr is $4.00. If i add small fries and a small drink I’m up to eight buck.  For 8 bucks I can go to Pappy’s Greasy Spoon and get a decent meal and a drink from a better menu, served to me and I don’t have to clean up.  My server can ask the cook to do things to my food that isn’t on the menu. Ok, I the tip might out me over the $8 - we are still subsidizing the salaries of restaurant workers.  Example: in Florida the minimum wage is +8.32/hr.  But restaurant server positions, among others, are exempt positions (these rules originate at the Federal level and provide a floor for the states).  In Florida, servers earn $5.54/hr.  

Right now, Some Oregonians are pushing for the state to allow customers to pump their own gas. I am an in-mover here and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that someone else pumps my gas. A real live person to interact with. A job created. I don’t have to stand in the rain on my crappy MS legs and pump my stupid gas (yes, I know that theoretically one can waive their handicapped permit and someone will come, but in real life ... good luck).  Looking into my crystal ball, should this come to pass, gas will go down about $.25 a gallon for awhile. One could save $50/month if they buy 200 gallons. Jobs lost. Then slowly, the gas inches back up.  Of course we are used to that, so it doesn’t seem odd.  But here’s the thing: right now, gas prices are not higher than in states where the customer providers the free labor. In fact, during my back-and-forth journeys associated with my move from Bakersfield, CA to Oregon it struck me that prices were cheaper in Oregon (away from freeway ramps, of course ).  And in Bakersfield, we pumped our own gas.  In an oil producing and refining county.  

Ok. Off that. Did I mention the retired Sociologist thing? I cant help it.

Bottom line: cloth is cheaper for manufacturers.  Consumers pay the hidden costs, so well enumerated by Abraham, with their tax dollars, sometimes their health, and sometimes their lives.  But get this: whereas it was once possible to save money by providing ones own labor, as I did when I made my work clothes, those days are nearly gone.  The price of sewing fabric has risen so much (and the labor used in the textile industry oppressed so much) that in the US it generally costs more to buy the materials to make a skirt or a blouse than to buy one at an average department store.  !  Pump your own gas, anyone?

PS: I still sew clothes anyway, even though I could buy them for less, because even the more expensive women’s clothing (eg $100 for a blouse rather than $30 or $40) are still dominated by crap synthetic fabrics (and I sure don’t have to explain here the environmental impact of the entire thousand year lifespan of the garment).  I recently bough cotton lawn to make a summer blouse. There’s not a lot of heft - this is a thin fabric designed for comfort on hot summer days. Price: $18.00/yard. So, $54 for fabric, plus, interfacing, thread and buttons (but naturally I already have buttons cut from old clothes).  Lining isn’t an issue because I want to stay cool.  But with the $$$ adding up....
Sure, I could get fabric for less on the internet. And I have done it.  But its a real crap shoot.  If you can’t touch it you can’t know what you’re getting. I have wasted enough money that way to convince me to pay store prices. Where I am helped by knowledgeable people willing to give free advice.

And yes! There is fabric  at the thrift store. Polyester! Knits! Except for the sheets.  There’s some real gems there.  Look hard enough and you will find 100% cotton sheets for $4.00 a pop. Thats where pajama pants come from.  And summer capris. And if I’m lucky, maybe a blouse.  There. There is still treasure to be found. For now.  

And there. I promise that this rant is finished now. I know you must be bored. Im beginning to bore myself. The intersection between textiles (I am a decades long sewer, knitter, crocheter, spinner, and sometime hack weaver) and social systems (here, economic, social, and environmental impacts of commodity systems) joins two areas that I have been immersed within for most of my adult life.  Kinda hit a nerve.  (Rueful smile.)
 
Jay Angler
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L Anderson wrote:

The intersection between textiles (I am a decades long sewer, knitter, crocheter, spinner, and sometime hack weaver) and social systems (here, economic, social, and environmental impacts of commodity systems) joins two areas that I have been immersed within for most of my adult life.  Kinda hit a nerve.  (Rueful smile.)

There are a couple of threads in the Fiber forum you might find an interesting read:

https://permies.com/t/74995/fiber-arts/Vancouver-Island-fibreshed-missing#622533

https://permies.com/t/65684/fiber-arts/fiber-arts-fibershed

Like so many things in our society, we've gone from using 90% or more locally produced products - food, fiber, footwear, tools, housing material etc - to very little locally produced products. From local small sawmills making 2x4's from locally grown trees, to importing hundreds to thousands of miles (much of Vancouver Island trees that are being cut currently, are being shipped as raw logs to China - so L's not the only one who'd be happy to rant about things we can't control) to basic foods like wheat which used to be grown on our Island for local consumption, but has mostly been consolidated to our Prairie Provinces. Some things we can't easily get back (cell phones for example), but our shopping decisions, and our efforts to grow foods and barter foods and skills with community members, are one place we can start.
 
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Just a thought: In the past (now I am speaking of the real past, history, probably until 1950s) ordinary (not rich) people were used to pay a considerable percentage of their income for clothing. There was a time when they could only afford to buy one new clothing item a year. So clothes needed to be of good quality, it had to be in use for several years!
All of that changed because of the 'economy of growth'. Industries need to sell more and more and ever more. So they forced the consumers to buy more and more, which was only possible by making cheap, low quality, clothes (and other stuff).
 
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Jay Angler wrote:Jennifer Kowalski wrote:

For something like a wool jacket, a smooth lining makes it slide more easily over other clothing when you put it on.

At some point, linings shifted from being made of linen or silk to being made of artificial fabrics. Coupled with modern climate-controlled buildings, I found that the lining made static shocks worse and more common. I can't be sure if that's the only cause, but it's certainly one thing I've noticed. Certainly the facts that modern clothes are so cheap and difficult to mend and that the styles/colours change so fast, aren't helping.



It is because the artificial fabrics  tend to pick up the opposing ions faster with less humidity in the indoor environment, and therefore, you get shocked. Wool will also, at times, build a shock capacity, but, in my experience, it has to have been a very low humid situation for a rather long period before it happens, at least, to me, that is.  *LOL*

I can repair a variety of fabrics, due to being raised with 2 women in my family who were both sewers and crafters; my grandmother and my mother; but there are fabrics even this ol' frugal gal can't repair, but there are some fabrics that I do like for their durability.

Such as rip stop nylon. Its tough, and wears for years. It is difficult, however, to repair holes and rips, as its usually bonded together then sewn.

My husband is in security, and has some rip stop  nylon pants he wears for work; and the other night, he found a section of uneven sidewalk the hard way, he tripped and then fell against the metal siding  corner of the building, and ended up with a couple of ripped spots on the knee area, in front, of course. Anywhere else, and I would have looked into getting material of similar color and done the small repairs myself.  As it is, tho, even getting the  available patching kits, those 2 spots will show up nobody's business, so those pants are now wear around here to do things in pants, and they will serve him well for outdoor projects for several years to come. Thats the upside. TH down side, he has to pay 60.00 to get another pair for work.  

He COULD go tot he uniform shop and get 2 regular pair of  uniform pants for the cost of the rip stop nylon, but those pants will not help him regulate his body temp; act as a wind breaker,   be moisture repellent, not have the extra pockets he needs. They also will last only about 4 years, if that, before they wear and tear will really start to show.  The ripstop nylon he has had going on 3 years, and still looked new, except for the ripped spots from the metal. I do think they will last him at least 7 more years, if not longer.  So, yes, it may seem pricey, but the quality, when you look at it, is worth it.

However, a  newer fabric that they are now using whole scale in sheets is the microfiber fabric, and that stuff, I despise with a purple passion. it holds moisture, and it hold heat; and I absolutely BROILED, too hot, too confining and I sweated like crazy,   when we tried microfiber sheets on the bed.

I am now looking into new sheets, and I am going to look into combed cotton, as someone suggested.  I am intrigued by the bamboo fiber, but am still not sold on it, because I am not sure about how it is made is affecting the environment; and how that stacks up against the practices to farm cotton as well...it might end up being a trade off, as usual.
 
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Home sewers tend to use a fusible interfacing to line bodices that need extra support or coverage. A lining can help a garment hold it shape better and last longer. Since most clothing is cheaply made from cheap fabrics they rarely hold up long. Somethings just need a lining like wool pants and jackets. It is challenging to match fabric content in a garment and it's lining. A poor match will shrink separately and make the garment bunch up and lose shape. While the designer may visualize and recommend a specific fabric, the manufacturer may choose a cheaper version to sell at Walmart and Target. Hence the glut of clothes in thrift shops and trash bins that no one wants.
 
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