History 101: The Origin of Fabrics (When Fabrics Were Invented)

Sybil T. Mann

Without fabrics, you will not have clothes to wear, blankets to keep you warm, a sofa to sit on, and curtains to protect you from extreme UV rays. They are used to create other useful and intricate items. There is a wide range of textures and colors that you can choose from when buying home decorations and furniture items because of the existence of fabric for upholstery. But did you ever wonder what happened in the past that led to the invention of fabrics? If so, the information below will be a good read for you. You will realize that fabrics have come a long way since people from the past utilized them to create basic and simple yet high-quality items. But nowadays, they serve a great purpose in making your life more convenient and comfortable. 

When did the use of fabrics all start?

According to the available historical records, ancient people started using woven textiles instead of animal hides a hundred thousand years ago. It originated in Anatolia where civilians started creating basic items from the said materials. Fabrics are made from either lt or spun fibers and made into yarn using a variety of techniques such as woven, laced, and knitted. The durability and quality of the fabrics depending on the type of textile. Before, there was a limited supply of natural fibers so people had to settle with the use of silk, pashmina, wool, and cotton among others. Synthetic fibers became available a century ago to widen the fabric options available in the market. Aside from that, people aimed to solve the problems associated with the use of natural fibers including the lack of elasticity. 

The history of the four natural fabrics

  1. Linen

Egyptians were the ones who introduced linen fabrics to different countries. They made it available worldwide during 5000 BC. To manufacture this type of natural fabric, they used flax and spun materials. Since they practice mummifications, they saw the potential of linen as the cloth used to cover the dead body. Aside from that, they utilized it to create wall arts, dresses, and shirts. 

  1. Cotton

Cotton is another type of natural fabric that first existed way back 5000 and 3000 BC. It is believed that the countries that first discovered it were ancient China, Egypt, and India. They recognized that cotton was a great material to spin, weave and dye. During 400 BC, one of these countries mass-produced cotton textiles and made them available for sale. With the great demand, people growing cotton decided to purchase rolling machines. This technological invention allows them to remove the seeds of the plants as fast and easily as possible. Throughout the years, new tools and equipment emerged which greatly improved the production of cotton.

  1. Wool

As easily as 10 000 BC, people get their food from animals such as sheep. They would breed them for a few years until they became suitable for meat production. As they continuously bred this animal, they discovered that their hides were ideal materials for manufacturing apparel and other items. Nowadays, they are utilized to create a thick warm outer layer that can help people withstand the cold and the winter seasons.

  1. Silk

Based on myth and stories, silk was discovered around 2500 BC by a Chinese princess. This type of fabric was made from several threads that would, later on, result in the existence of a cocoon of the silkworm. These worms were the reason why the leaves of the native plant known as mulberry dried and eventually died in East Asia. For this reason, silk production was viable only in a few countries such as China. Through the emperor during the Han Dynasty, silk reached almost all countries worldwide because he built the infamous silk road.

In Conclusion

After reading the article, you now know the history of fabrics, especially those that are made from natural materials. You probably have a better appreciation for these items as well as for the genius minds behind their existence. In the future, expect that there would be innovations and upgraded versions of these fabrics due to the continuous and abrupt technological advancements in the industry. 

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