You are here:

FREE Newsletter

Textiles - Making Textiles
Textile History
Timeline of the Textile Industry
~ Mary Bellis

The major steps in the manufacture of clothes are four: first to harvest and clean the fiber or wool; second, to card it and spin it into threads; third, to weave the threads into cloth; and, finally to fashion and sew the cloth into clothes.

Like food and shelter, clothing is a basic human requirement. When settled neolithic cultures discovered the advantages of woven fibers over animal hides, the making of cloth, drawing on basketry techniques, emerged as one of humankind's fundamental technologies. From the earliest hand-held spindle and distaff and basic hand loom to the highly automated spinning machines and power looms of today, the principles of turning vegetable fiber into cloth have remained constant: Plants are cultivated and the fiber harvested. The fibers are cleaned and aligned, then spun into yarn or thread. Finally the yarns are interwoven to produce cloth. Today we also spin complex synthetic fibers, but they are still woven together the way cotton and flax were millennia ago.


By Hand

By Machine
Picking Picking Picking

Picking removed foreign matter (dirt, insects, leaves, seeds) from the fiber. Early pickers beat the fibers to loosen them and removed debris by hand. Machines used rotating teeth to do the job, producing a thin "lap" ready for carding.

By Hand By Machine
Carding Carding Carding

Carding combed the fibers to align and join them into a loose rope called a "sliver." Hand carders pulled the fibers between wire teeth set in boards. Machines did the same thing with rotating cylinders. Slivers (rhymes with divers) were then combined, twisted, and drawn out into "roving."

Spinning By Hand By Machine
Spinning Spinning Spinning

Spinning twisted and drew out the roving and wound the resulting yarn on a bobbin. A spinning wheel operator drew out the cotton by hand. A series of rollers accomplished this on machines called "throstles" and "spinning mules."

Warping By Hand By Machine
Warping Warping Warping

Warping gathered yarns from a number of bobbins and wound them close together on a reel or spool. From there they were transferred to a warp beam, which was then mounted on a loom. Warp threads were those that ran lengthwise on the loom.

Weaving By Hand By Machine
Weaving Weaving Weaving

Weaving was the final stage in making cloth. Crosswise woof threads were interwoven with warp threads on a loom. A 19th century power loom worked essentially like a hand loom, except that its actions were mechanized.

Source: Lowell National Historical Park Handbook 140

Continue with >>> Timeline of the Textile Industry or Fabrics

Subscribe to the Newsletter

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!

Important disclaimer information about this About site.

Newsletters & RSSEmail to a friendAdd to
All Topics | Email Article | |
Our Story | Be a Guide | Advertising Info | News & Events | Work at About | Site Map | Reprints | Help
User Agreement | Ethics Policy | Patent Info. | Privacy Policy | Kids' Privacy Policy

©2006 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.
Mental Health

Depression Self-Test Vitamins for Depression? Bipolar Red Flags Coping With Disasters Celebrities With Bipolar

What's Hot

Gyroscopes - Elmer Sperry and Charles Stark Draper Gyroscope...Angel AlcalaThe History of the BikiniRusi Taleyarkhan Jack Johnson