How to Pack – A Trunk

I found this buried in my drafts folder….. From Eliza Leslie’s House Book, (Philadelphia, 1844)

To Fold a Dress for Packing – spread the dress, right side out, on a bed; and, taking it by the hem, make the bottom exactly even all round. Next, double the skirt lengthways in half, then fold it lengthways in four, turn up crossways about one-third of the folded lower part of the skirt; then give the remainder of the skirt a fold backwards, terminating at the gathers at the waist. Next, turn the body backwards, with the front uppermost, and the back resting on the folded skirt beneath. Lastly, spread out the sleeves; vie each of them a fold forward at the shoulders, and a fold backward at the elbows, and lay them across each other evenly on the fore-body.

Fold the pelerine right-side out. First, double it in half, beginning down the middle of the back. Next, give the doubled pelerine a fold backwards, then a fold forwards, and then another fold so as to leave the corners uppermost.

A belt-ribbon, for packing, should be rolled on a block, and fastened with two pins.

A lady’s travelling dress should be made to fasten at the side or in front, pelisse-fashion; that, during her journey, she may be able to dress herself without assistance.

It may be well to have a camphor-bag sewed to each of her night-gowns, that she may be less liable to attacks from insects when sleeping in such beds as are frequently met with in travelling.

To Pack a Large Trunk – Have all the things laid out ready, the light things divided from the heavy ones; and keep at hand a quire of soft wrapping paper. Spread a clean thick towel over the bottom of the trunk, and place on it the hard flat things, such as portfolios, music-books, a writing desk, boxes, books for reading, &c,; taking care to fit them well together, so as to be even at the top; and filling up the crevices with small articles that will not be injured by compressment, each of them, however, wrapped in paper, to prevent their scraping of defacing the other things. Never use newspaper for packing, as the printing ink will not fail to rub off and soil whatever it touches. You may stick in a pair of shoes here and there, each laid together as flat as possible, and tied round with their own strings. Some persons have shoe bags made of flannel or cloth, and stitched into compartments, each division containing a pair of shoes. Over the layer of hard flat things in the bottom of the trunk, spread a towel; and on this lay your flannels, linen, &c., filling up the interstices with stockings and gloves. Then cover them with another towel, and put your dresses, the muslin ones uppermost; filling in the corners with pocket handkerchiefs. On the top of your dresses lay your pelerines, collars, and caps, (if you have no other way of carrying them,) &c., finishing with a thin towel over the whole.

No trunk should be packed so full as to strain the hinges. If your trunk has a false top, you can fill that with any articles that may be rolled up tightly. Shoes should on no account be packed without covers, as the colour (particularly, if black)will rub off, and disfigure any white things that may be near them. Avoid putting any eatable articles in a trunk of box that contains things which cannot be washed, as they may be much injured by grease or stains. On no consideration, carry ink, even though locked up in a writing desk. You can always at the place which you are going, buy yourself six cent worth of ink in a small square bottle, which will also serve for an inkstand. It is well, however, to take with you a few sheets of good writing paper folded in the form of letters, each with a wafer stuck on one edge, to be ready, in case you have occasion to write before you reach your journey’s end, or immediately after. It is well to have read tapes nailed across the inside of the lid of your trunk, for the purpose of slipping letters and papers between them.

There are traveling trunks with a sort of movable tray fitting in near the top. This tray can be lifted in and out, and is for the purpose of containing pelerines, collars, scarfs, ribbons, laces, &c. Some very large trunks have a partition at one end, to hold a bonnet or other millinery.

It is best, however, to have a proper bonnet-box, either of painted wood or leather. To keep the bonnet steady, sew to it in convenient places under the trimming, pieces of tape, the other ends of which should be secured with tack-nails to the floor and sides of the box. In the corners, you may lay a few caps, &c., as light as possible.

Leather trunks generally have brass plates on which is engraved the name of the owner. It is now very customary to have the name painted on both ends of the trunk, and also on the bonnet boxes. Besides which, if you are travelling with several articles of baggage, it is well to have them all designated by a piece of red tape or something of the sort tied round the handles of each. A lady, before setting out on a journey, should be provided with a card or paper, on which she has written a list and description of her trunk, box, carpet-bag, &c. Previous to the hour before starting, she should give this list to the gentleman under whose escort she is to travel and it will save him much trouble in finding out and taking care of her baggage.

The best paper for wrapping light articles that are to be packed in trunks, is the thin, soft sheets of light blue, buff, gray, and other colours, that are retailed at six cents per quire. It is well to keep a supply of it always in the house.

For heavier articles, (books, &c.,) the nankeen paper will be preferable to any other, as it is both smooth and strong.

In putting a paper parcel to go any distance over twenty miles, it is better to secure it only with sealing-wax, (putting always a wafer under the seal,) than to tie it round with twine, as in the course of transportation, the twine is very apt to rub and cut through the paper.

When putting up a newspaper or any other printed sheet to go by mail, always leave the cover open at one end.

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