DOWLAS, the name given to a plain cloth, similar to sheeting, but usually coarser. It is made in several qualities, from line warp and weft to two warp and weft, and is used chiefly for aprons, pocketing, soldiers' gaiters, linings and overalls. The finer makes are sometimes made into shirts for workmen, and occasionally used for heavy pillow-cases. The word is spelt in many different ways, but the above is the common way of spelling adopted in factories, and it appears in the same form in Shakespeare's First Part of Henry IV., Act III. scene 3. The modern dowlas is a good, strong and closely woven linen fabric.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)