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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 7 (October 1, 1934)

Our Women's Section — Timely Notes and Useful Hints

page 42

Our Women's Section
Timely Notes and Useful Hints.

“During the eighteenth century Britain became the workshop of the world.”

AT the beginning of the eighteenth century Britain's “manufactures” were negligible. A little linen was made, chiefly in Scotland and the North of Ireland; wool was converted into cloth in many cottages throughout the country; no true cottons were made, as the cotton yarn spun by British cotton-spinners was not strong enough for use as warp. The hand-wheel and hand-loom held pride of place in many a humble home.

About the middle of the century, men who had been striving for years to improve the mechanism for spinning and weaving attained success. The inventions of Hargreaves, Arkwright and Crompton led to the production of an abundance of cotton-yarn strong enough for use as warp, Cartwright made the first power-loom, and soon the hand-loom was being abandoned. A new method of bleaching by chlorine speeded up the process of manufacture, as also did the use of a revolving cylinder instead of a small hand-block for colour printing. So Britain's gigantic cotton industry began.

Cotton.

The tremendous start in the manufacturing race which these inventions gave us, has been diminished during later years, but Britain is still in the lead as far as cotton is concerned. There has been a big revival in the industry just recently. Manchester still deserves its nickname, “Cottonopolis,” and thrifty housewives still buy British Manchester goods. We have the word of the British Trade Commissioner that as far as high-class cottons are concerned, Britain leads the world. Our rivals, owing to lower wage levels and standard of living, are competing strongly as regards low-priced cotton goods; but for quality and quantity England is queen of cotton.

It is impossible for pen to describe the wealth of materials on show in New Zealand. You must see for yourselves, and admire and rejoice at this tangible proof of Britain's preeminence. By the way, do you realise that “old man slump” has lost his pride of place in the British press? The headline now is “Confidence and Prosperity,” as forecasted by the British “prosperity” budget.

The Dress Section.

We walk through avenues of cottons of all descriptions—new fabrics, new colourings, new designs. Our old friend Tobralco is so smartly new that one hardly recognises her. Zephyrs, prints, organdies, voiles, muslins, lace—they are all here, and many of them uncrushable.

In the showroom we study frocks. They are slim-fitting, with skirts gored or pleated, the pleats in many cases consisting of two inverted ones at front and back. Sleeves may be long, elbow-length or short, and are less fussy than they have been. Collars and large bows of organdie and its relatives are everywhere; puritan collar and cuff sets are demure and smart; jabots and frills of accordion pleated organdie are dressy.

Blouses are charming in various cotton materials. They may be tailored and worn with a tie, or fluffy with pleatings and bows or coloured organdie posies. Jumper and waist-coat blouses are ready to be worn with suits.

Hats have flat crowns and brims, some very wide. Straws are fine or transparent, and are trimmed with flat bows or flowers. Fabric hats to match or tone with frocks are popular, especially checks and plaids in cotton or silk.

Stockings are a delight. They appear in light colourings in the sheerest of page 43 sheer silk and the dullest of dull finishes. Plain and patterned meshes are new for summer.

Gloves are in the same light shades as the stockings. Most of those in leather and kid can be washed with soap and water.

* * *

Shoes.

The shoe question is an interesting one. The true economy of shoes is to have the right shoes for the right costume and occasion. This season's styles are simple and well cut—one might almost say “stream-lined.” Heels are definitely lower and broader, mostly of the Cuban variety.

Walking and street shoes are smartly cut, combining elegance with comfort. They are cut low, resembling the Court style, but are briefly laced.

There are many varieties of materials used in the new season's shoes, also combinations of materials—glace, calf, suede, patent leather, canvas, and other fabrics are combined with leather and strike an elegant and new note. Skin shoes are not as popular as they were a season or two ago.

The colours most seen are navy, various shades of brown, and the neutral shades. Bright colours are on the wane. For sports shoes the neutral shades are popular. Many of them are composed of a combination of fabric and leather in two tones of one colour.

A combination of materials rather than a combination of colours is a feature of the new season's shoe styles.

For evening wear, plain silver Court shoes or sandals, or satins, dyed to match the frock, are the most popular.

Shoe Care.

Place leather and suede shoes on trees, or stuff the toes with paper after wearing, to keep them in shape. This is especially essential if the shoes have been wet.

Do not leave shoes with rubber soles near the fire or in the sun, as this will cause the rubber to melt and become sticky.

It is an excellent idea to varnish the soles of walking shoes in order to harden and preserve the leather. It is well to give at least three coats of the varnish.

The best way to preserve patent leather shoes and to keep them from cracking, is to smear them with vaseline. Rub the vaseline well in with a soft cloth and leave for a few hours, then polish with a silk pad. If not wearing the shoes for a time, smear them with a little vaseline and wrap them up in soft paper.

Suede shoes are cleaned with a wire brush, sold for the purpose. Care must be taken to rub with the nap of the suede.

It is most essential to use clean brushes and pads for all shoes. Good shoe pads may be economically made from discarded silk stockings.

Use white shoe cream in preference to black or coloured, as it does not rub off and stain the stockings.

If at all possible it is a good plan to have several pairs of shoes and change them frequently. The shoes last longer and changing them will help to give foot comfort.

* * *

In an Old Garden.

It is warm here in the sun. I turn my back to the verandah post and the faint, fresh breeze from the sea, and try to concentrate on my notes. I wish I knew more about birds—dozens of them are whistling and twittering in the dark macrocarpas, and I would love to recognise them by name. Their songs, also, are definitely individual. I listen attentively, then try to imitate a phrase or two. Disgusted with my rasping effort, I set myself to listen again. The sea supplies a sullen bass to their clear treble, and now and again the bleat of sheep punctuates the rhythm.

A few minutes since, I strolled across the weed-grown drive to inspect some flowering shrubs which grow bravely where a large garden once was. I greeted japonica and flowering currant, and applauded the gay show of rhododendron and camellia. All pink, you see—these remains of a proud past. Bulbs lift their green spears beside the drive-way, and I found violets sheltering near a hedge. My fingers are still scented with crushed rosemary— “that's for remembrance,” and, suddenly saddened, I think of other old homes I have known, and wonder about the past of this one.

Who planned this garden, lying to the sun, bounded by its curve of drive-way, backed by shelter trees and the plumes of bamboo? Who studied seedsmen's catalogues and sent away for shrubs and plants? Who dug and hoed and weeded? And now some perversity of fate has left this beloved garden uncared for. Perhaps hard times and pressing creditors forced the giving up of the old homestead; children who were to inherit and “carry on” may have gone away or died; illness may have stricken the pair of hands which loved to tend flowers. Whatever the cause, it must have been a sad one.

Old homes are miserable, skulking things, with their blind eyes of windows through which the curious gaze on peeling wall-papers and dusty floors, their rotting woodwork and crumbling stone; but old gardens are sweet with an ancient beauty, and soft with the dew of glimmering tears. The stranger walks pitifully there, and the seasons, each in turn, clothe them with aspects of their former loveliness.

* * *

Flowers By Post.

It is always best to gather cut-flowers, which are to be sent by post, in the early morning. Choose flowers that are not quite in full bloom, and they should be cut with a sharp knife page 44 or pair of scissors and placed in water in order to absorb as much moisture as possible for the journey. Before packing, wrap the ends of the stalks of each bloom or small bunch in slightly damp cotton-wool.

The choice of a box for packing the flowers is important. A light wooden box is most suitable, but a strong cardboard may be used if it is reinforced and well packed. Line a cardboard box with oiled or grease-proof paper, then place several thicknesses of stout brown paper, damped, at the bottom of the box. Neatly pack a layer of flowers and cover with damp tissue paper. Continue with layers of flowers and damp paper until the flowers are all packed. The top layer should be well covered with the tissue paper. Pack all the spare corners with slightly damped cotton-wool and use a good layer of the cotton-wool on the top before putting on the lid. The flowers must be packed firmly to avoid crushing.

The box should be covered with stout brown paper and tied securely. Label clearly “Flowers with Care.”

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