My first non-cotton dress
by Ruth Baker
Mar 04, 2012 | 1268 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Baker
Ruth Baker
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It must have been about 1939 or 1940 when I got a store-bought dress made from fabric other than cotton. I think it was acetate, but could have been a nylon product. Acetate was manufactured in 1924, and nylon’s beginning was in 1939. The fabric tag said it was “sharkskin.” I remember it as if it were yesterday.

The dress was made from a crisp fabric that rustled when I moved. It was made of a tiny black and white checks. There was a bolero look with the front panels sewn into the sides of the dress at the top and sides to make it look like a jacket. The inside of the jacket part was lined in red. Boy, I was a proud young lady, all snazzied up with something different and new.

I enjoyed wearing my new dress and wore it several times until it was ready to laundry. It washed easily and dried a little crinkled so I prepared the ironing board to press my dress. I placed the “flat irons,” which were literally made of iron, on the stove to heat. I pulled my dress over the board and positioned it so I could do the back of the waist first. When I placed my iron on the dress, I had trouble getting it to turn loose. When I pulled it loose, the whole imprint of the iron was left on the back. It had almost melted the fabric. What to do? I could not throw my beautiful dress away. I wore it several years by adding a jacket to hide the spot on the back from others.

We had no experience with this type of cloth.Our cotton had always been easy to press with a hot iron. Most of the time, starch was used for cotton and the only problem was it sticking to the iron and we would have to put salt on a heavy piece of old overall denim and iron hard to clean. We would sprinkle the clothes and wrap with a sheet to get the dampness evenly distributed. If they were left overnight on the clothesline, the dew would fall on them and they were just right to iron.

Ironing has always been one of my most dreaded chores. I was most happy when the nylons and dacrons came and following that, the polyesters and then the blends. That simplified life for the house wife.

I have ironed tons of clothes since that faraway experience, but none stand out in my memory as that one.

Does this little memory draw up your memory of those hard ironing days before we ever saw and used the electric iron?