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Early History of Textiles

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History of Textiles Timeline

Date Advancement in Textiles        
105,000BC Man Began Wearing Clothes        
38,000BC Pelts Were Sewn Together        
25,000BC Weaving & Spinning Began        
China Began Silk Production        
8,000BC Flax Was Used For Clothmaking      
3,000BC Sheep's Wool Was Made Into Yarn      
500BC Silk Road Open Up Silk Exports From China    
300BC Cotton & Hemp Were Used For Weaving Cloth    
1,000AD Fabric Bleaching, Dying & Embroidery Embellishments  
1,300AD Lacework, Buttons, Colorful Cloth & Tailoring of Clothing  
1,400AD Elaborate Collars, Brocade and Lace, Goldwork on Black Wool Cloth
1,600AD Sober & Simple Wool Clothing For Protestants    
1,790AD Sewing Machine Invented Using Chainstitch    
1,850AD Sewing Maching Mass Produced Using Lockstitch    




It is believed that man began wearing clothing about 107,000 years ago. This was the time at which the head louse diverged genetically from the body louse.  Initially clothing would have consisted of animal skins. Sewing needles have been found that were used 40,000 years ago at a time when pelts would have been sewn together.  Weaving and spinning began about 27,000 years ago.  It is believed that originally woven cloth was used for burial shrouds.  Early woven cloth clothing was made of full loom width and draped and pinned into place. People went from "Love your pelt.  Watch for those body lice." to  "Nice tunic, pinned on the left next to your neck. Nifty touch." (in Latin of course). The Chinese began making silk in the 27th Century BC.  Silk remained in China alone until the Silk Road opened up about 500BC. Flax was woven into cloth beginning about 10,000 years ago.  Sheep's wool was used for textile production starting in 3,000 BC.


Tunics lasted a loooong time. Style was no style. People bought their clothes from the tent and awning factory.  The Romans dressed in tunics and shawls primarily made of wool.  Linen, hemp, silk and cotton was also worn. In Medieval times the dress gradually changed.  People began bleaching and dying fabric and embroidered borders on tunics became common. Invading armies in Europe wore trousers, belts and hosiery during this timeframe but Europeans didn't really began to become fashionable until the middle of the 14th century with the advent of  lacing, buttons, colorful cloths and tailored clothing.

In the 15th and 16th centuries wool was the most popular fabric for all classes and was available in a wide range of qualities and colors. Export of a dense, velvety broadcloth became the backbone of the British economy during this period. Elaborate collars, brocade and lace on black wool cloth decorated the fashionable elite. Woven linen was used for under garments. The lower classes and later the Protestants of England (17th century) wore simpler, more sober clothing.

The sewing machine was invented in 1790 but  become popular in the mid 19th Century following  the development of the lockstitch.


 (Pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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