Timeline of clothing and textiles technology

This timeline of clothing and textiles technology covers the events of fiber and flexible woven material worn on the body; including making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, and systems (technology).

Fibers and Fabrics

Tools and Machines

Ancient and Prehistoric

  • c. 28000 BCSewing needles in use at Kostenki in Russia.
  • c. 6500 BC – Approximate date of Naalebinding examples found in Nahal Hemar cave, Israel. This technique, which uses short separate lengths of thread, predated the invention of knitting (with its continuous lengths of thread) and requires that all of the as-yet unused thread be pulled through the loop in the sewn material.[7] This requires much greater skill than knitting in order to create a fine product.[8]
  • 4200 BC – Date of Mesolithic examples of Naalebinding found in Denmark, marking spread of technology to Northern Europe.[9]
  • 200 BC to 200 AD – Approximate date of earliest evidence of "Needle Knitting" in Peru, a form of Naalebinding that preceded local contact with the Spanish.[10]
  • 298 AD – Earliest attestation of a foot-powered loom, with a hint that the invention arose at Tarsus.[11]

Medieval History

Early Modern Period

Late modern period

  • 1830 – Barthélemy Thimonnier develops the first functional sewing machine.
  • 1833 – Walter Hunt invents the lockstitch sewing machine but, dissatisfied with its function, does not patent it.
  • 1842 – Lancashire Loom developed by Bullough and Kenworthy, a semi automatic Power loom.
  • 1842 – John Greenough patents the first sewing machine in the United States.
  • 1844 – John Smith of Salford granted a patent for a shuttleless rapier loom.[18]
  • 1846 – John Livesey adapts John Heathcoat's bobbinet machine into the curtain machine
  • 1847 – William Mason Patents his "Mason self-acting" Mule.
  • 1849 – Matthew Townsend patents the variant of latch needle which has been the most widely used needle in weft knitting machines.
  • 1855 – Redgate combines a circular loom with a warp knitting machine
  • 1856 – Thomas Jeacock of Leicester patented the tubular pipe compound needle.
  • 1857 – Luke Barton introduces a self-acting narrowing mechanism on S. Wise's knitting machine.
  • 1857 – Arthur Paget patents a multi-head knitting machine called "Paget-machine".
  • 1859 – Wilhelm Barfuss improves on Redgates machine, called Raschel machines (named after the French actress Élisabeth Félice Rachel).
  • 1864 – William Cotton patents the straight bar knitting machine named after him ("Cotton machine").
  • 1865 – The American Isaac Wixom Lamb patents the flat knitting machine using latch needles.
  • 1865 – Clay invents the double-headed latch needle which has enabled to create purl stitch knitting.
  • 1866 – The American Mac Nary patents the circular knitting machine (with vertical needles) for fabrication of socks and stockings with heel and toe pouches.
  • 1878 – Henry Griswold adds a second set of needles (horizontal needles) to the circular knitting machine enabling knitting of rib fabrics as cuff for socks.
  • 1881 – Pierre Durand invents the tubular pipe compound needle.
  • 1890s – Development of the Barmen machine


  • 1889 – Northrop Loom: Draper Corporation, First automatic bobbin changing weaving loom placed in production. Over 700,000 would be sold worldwide.
  • 1900 – Heinrich Stoll creates the flat bed purl knitting machine.
  • 1910 – Spiers invents the circular bed purl knitting machine.
  • c. 1920 – Hattersley loom developed by George Hattersley and Sons.
  • 1924 – Celanese Corporation produces the first acetate fiber.
  • 1928 – International Bureau of Standardization of Man Made Fibers founded.[19]
  • 1939 – US passes Wool Products Labeling Act, requiring truthful labeling of wool products according to origin.[20]
  • 1940 – Spectrophotometer invented, with impact on commercial textile dye processes.
  • 1942 – First patent for fabric https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singe#Textiles awarded in US.[21]
  • 1949 – Heinrich Mauersberger invents the sewing-knitting technique and his "Malimo" machine.
  • 1955 – Research begins on multi-phase weft insertion. Successful examples will not exist until the 80s and late 90s.[22]
  • 1956 – Du Pont Introduces a process for spinning sheaf yarn, a precursor to air-jet spinning.[23]
  • c. 1960s. Existing machines become outfitted with computerized numeric control (CNC) systems, enabling more accurate and efficient actuation.
  • 1960 – US passes Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, dealing with mandatory content disclosure in labelling, invoicing, and advertising of textile products.[24]
  • 1963 – Open-end spinning developed in Czechoslovakia.
  • 1965 – Dunlop Rubber awarded patent for polyurethane sheets fused together using ultrasonic vibrations, a precursor to fusing of coated textiles.[25]
  • 1968 – Fabric pleating machine patented in Germany. [26]
  • 1979 – Murata manufacturing demonstrates air splicing of yarn.[27]
  • c. 1981 – Air jet spinning enters the US market.[28]
  • 1983 – Bonas Machine Company Ltd. presents the first computer-controlled, electronic, Jacquard loom.[29]
  • 1988 – First US patent awarded for a "pick and place" robot. [30]

Treatments, Dyes, and Finishes

  • 500 AD – jia xie method for resist dyeing (usually silk) using wood blocks invented in China. An upper and a lower block is made, with carved out compartments opening to the back, fitted with plugs. The cloth, usually folded a number of times, is inserted and clamped between the two blocks. By unplugging the different compartments and filling them with dyes of different colors, a multi-colored pattern can be printed over quite a large area of folded cloth.[5]
  • 600s – Oldest samples of cloth printed by woodblock printing from Egypt.
  • 1799 – Charles Tennant discovers and patents bleaching powder.
  • 1856 – William Henry Perkin invents the first synthetic dye.
  • 1921 – Georges Heberlein, of Switzerland, patents a treatment of cellulose with sulfuric acid to create organdy. [31]
  • c. 1945-1970 – Antimicrobial research enters a "golden" period. By the 1980s, antimicrobial treatments for textiles are developed and implemented in manufacturing.[32]
  • 1954 – Fiber reactive dye invented, with better performance for dyeing cellulosic fiber
  • 1961 – Du Pont assigned patent for yarn fasciation.[33]
  • 1967 – Dow Chemical Co patents method for treating textile materials with a flourocarbon resin, offering offering water, oil, and stain repellency.[34]
  • 1970 – Superwash acid treatment of wool creates a more durable material that does not shrink in laundry.
  • 1979 – US DoD's Natick Labs grants multi-millions of dollars for research in chemical and biological protection garments.[35]

See also


  1. ^ a b Lambert, Joseph B. (2008-08-06). Traces of the Past: Unraveling the Secrets of Archaeology Through Chemistry. Basic Books. ISBN 0786725737.
  2. ^ a b c Cambridge History of Western Textiles p. 39-47
  3. ^ Cambridge History of Western Textiles p. 30-39
  4. ^ Roche, Julian (1994). The International Cotton Trade. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Publishing Ltd. p. 5.
  5. ^ a b Shelagh Vauinker in Anne Farrer (ed), "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas", 1990, British Museum publications, ISBN 0-7141-1447-2
  6. ^ Reigate, Emily (1986). An Illustrated Guide to Lace (1988 ed.). WoodBridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors Club. p. 11. ISBN 1851490035.
  7. ^ Barber 1991.
  8. ^ a b Theaker 2006.
  9. ^ Bender 1990.
  10. ^ Bennett & Bird 1960.
  11. ^ D.L.Carroll Dating the Foot-powered loom: the Coptic evidence American Journal of Archaeology 1985 vol. 89; 168-73
  12. ^ Lakwete, Angela (2003). Inventing the Cotton Gin: Machine and Myth in Antebellum America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 1–6. ISBN 9780801873942.
  13. ^ Smith, C. Wayne; Cothren, J. Tom (1999). Cotton: Origin, History, Technology, and Production. 4. John Wiley & Sons. pp. viii. ISBN 978-0471180456. The first improvement in spinning technology was the spinning wheel, which was invented in India between 500 and 1000 A.D.
  14. ^ Pacey, Arnold (1991) [1990]. Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History (First MIT Press paperback ed.). Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
  15. ^ Baber, Zaheer (1996). The Science of Empire: Scientific Knowledge, Civilization, and Colonial Rule in India. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 57. ISBN 0-7914-2919-9.
  16. ^ Irfan Habib (2011), Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500, page 53, Pearson Education
  17. ^ Irfan Habib (2011), Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500, pages 53-54, Pearson Education
  18. ^ Maity, Subhankar and Singa, Kunal (2012). "Recent Developments in Rapier Weaving Machines in Textiles". American Journal of Systems Science. 1 (1): 7–16.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ http://www.bisfa.org/
  20. ^ https://www.ftc.gov/node/119457
  21. ^ US 38302041A, Hanes Spencer Booe, published 1942-02-24
  22. ^ Matsuo, 2008.
  23. ^ Basu, A. (1999). "Progress In Air-Jet Spinning". Textile Progress. 29 (3): 1–38.
  24. ^ Jerde, 1992
  25. ^ US 3483073A, published 1965-07-24
  26. ^ DE 1810719A1, published 1968-11-19
  27. ^ Matuso, 2008
  28. ^ Jerde, 1992.
  29. ^ Bonas.co.uk
  30. ^ US 4872258A, Philip A Ragard, published 1988-09-22
  31. ^ Color Trade Journal and Textile Chemist: Devoted to the Interests of the Manufacturers and Users of American Dyestuffs and Processors of Textile Fibers and Fabrics. Volume=11-12
  32. ^ Ventola C. L. (2015). "The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis, Part 1: Causes and Threats". Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 40 (4): 277–283. PMC 4378521. PMID 25859123.
  33. ^ US 3079746A, Jr Frederick C Field, published 1961-10-23
  34. ^ US 3540924, Dow chemical Co, published 1967-12-15
  35. ^ Wartell, MA; Kleinman, MT & Huey, BM (1999). Strategies to Protect the Health of Deployed U.S. Forces: Force Protection and Decontamination. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).


  • Barber, E. J. W. Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with special reference to the Aegean. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1991. ISBN 0-691-03597-0 (Barber 1991)
  • Barber, Elizabeth Wayland. Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times. W. W. Norton & Company, new edition, 1995. (Barber 1995)
  • Bender Jørgensen, Lise. 'Stone-Age Textiles in North Europe'. In Textiles in Northern Archaeology, Textile Symposium in York, North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles Monograph 3 (NESAT III). London Archetype Publications, 1990. ISBN 1-873132-05-0
  • Bennett, Wendell C. & Bird, Junius B. Andean Culture History. Handbook Series No. 15. Second and revised edition. ©The American Museum of Natural History. A publication of the Anthropological Handbook Fund, New York, 1960.
  • Jenkins, David, ed. The Cambridge History of Western Textiles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2003. ISBN 0-521-34107-8
  • Jerde, Judith. (1992). Encyclopedia of Textiles. Facts on File.
  • Theaker, Julie. History 101. (on the history of knitting)
  • Spencer, J. David. Knitting Technology. Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1983. ISBN 0-08-024763-6
  • Modig, Niels. Hosiery Machines. Their development, technology, and practical use. Meisenbach, Bamberg, 1988. ISBN 3-87525-048-6
  • Matsuo, T. 'Innovations in textile machine and instrument.' In Indian Journal of Fibre & Textile Research. Vol 33, September 2008, pp.288-303.

Further reading


A bleachfield or bleaching green was an open area used for spreading cloth on the ground to be purified and whitened by the action of the sunlight. Bleaching fields were usually found in and around mill towns in Great Britain and were an integral part of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.

When cloth-making was still a home-based occupation, the bleachfields could be found on Scottish crofts and English farm fields. Just as wool needed fulling and flax needed retting, so did the semi-finished fabrics need space and time outdoors to bleach. In the 18th century there were many linen bleachfields in Scotland, particularly in Perthshire, Renfrewshire in the Scottish Lowlands, and the outskirts of Glasgow. By the 1760s, linen manufacture became a major industry in Scotland, second only to agriculture. For instance, in 1782 alone, Perthshire produced 1.7 million yards of linen, worth £81,000 (£9,780,000 as of 2019).Bleachfields were also common in northern England; for instance, the name of the town of Whitefield, on the outskirts of Manchester, is thought to derive from the medieval bleachfields used by Flemish settlers.Bleachfields became redundant after Charles Tennant developed a bleaching powder based on chlorine, which permitted year-round processing of fabric indoors, but many of the factories continued to be called bleachfields.

A bleachfield is similar to, but should not be confused with, a tenterground. Bleachfields were a popular subject for Dutch painters in the 17th century. One of the stained glass windows made by Stephen Adam for the Maryhill Burgh Halls in 1878, shows linen bleachers at work.


Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web or sliver suitable for subsequent processing. This is achieved by passing the fibers between differentially moving surfaces covered with card clothing. It breaks up locks and unorganised clumps of fibre and then aligns the individual fibers to be parallel with each other. In preparing wool fibre for spinning, carding is the step that comes after teasing.The word is derived from the Latin carduus meaning thistle or teasel, as dried vegetable teasels were first used to comb the raw wool.

Clothing technology

Clothing technology involves the manufacturing, materials, and design innovations that have been developed and used. The timeline of clothing and textiles technology includes major changes in the manufacture and distribution of clothing.

From clothing in the ancient world into modernity the use of technology has dramatically influenced clothing and fashion in the modern age. Industrialization brought changes in the manufacture of goods. In many nations, homemade goods crafted by hand have largely been replaced by factory produced goods on assembly lines purchased in a consumer culture. Innovations include man-made materials such as polyester, nylon, and vinyl as well as features like zippers and velcro. The advent of advanced electronics has resulted in wearable technology being developed and popularized since the 1980s.

Design is an important part of the industry beyond utilitarian concerns and the fashion and glamour industries have developed in relation to clothing marketing and retail. Environmental and human rights issues have also become considerations for clothing and spurred the promotion and use of some natural materials such as bamboo that are considered environmentally friendly.

Cotton-spinning machinery

Cotton-spinning machinery refers to machines which process (or spin) prepared cotton roving into workable yarn or thread. Such machinery can be dated back centuries. During the 18th and 19th centuries, as part of the Industrial Revolution cotton-spinning machinery was developed to bring mass production to the cotton industry. Cotton spinning machinery was installed in large factories, commonly known as cotton mills.

Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright (24 April 1743 – 30 October 1823) was an English inventor. He graduated from Oxford University very early and went on to invent the power loom. Married to local Elizabeth McMac at 19, he was the brother of Major John Cartwright, a political reformer and radical, and George Cartwright, explorer of Labrador.

Cartwright was taught at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, University College, Oxford, and for an MA degree at Magdalen College, Oxford, (awarded 1766) where he was received a demyship and was elected a Fellow of the College. He became a clergyman of the Church of England. Cartwright began his career as a clergyman, becoming, in 1779, rector of Goadby Marwood, Leicestershire. In 1783, he was elected a prebendary at Lincoln Cathedral.

List of timelines

This is a list of timelines currently on Wikipedia.


A loom is a device used to weave cloth and tapestry. The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads. The precise shape of the loom and its mechanics may vary, but the basic function is the same.

Ormrod and Hardcastle

Ormrod and Hardcastle spinning and manufacturing firm began in 1788, with the partnership of James Ormrod and Thomas Hardcastle, and the purchase of the Flash Street mills in Bolton, Greater Manchester. These two men have been identified amongst the fathers of the early cotton trade in North West England. Others named are Carlisles, Gray, Knowles, Bulling, Crook and Culling. These names often figured prominently in the political, judicial and economic life of Bolton during its great period of growth, but sadly these names have been largely forgotten in the history of the cotton trade.

By the time of their closure, in 1960, Ormrod and Hardcastle owned six large successful cotton mills in Bolton.

Platt Brothers

Platt Brothers, also known as Platt Bros & Co Ltd, was a British company based at Werneth in Oldham, North West England. The company manufactured textile machinery and were iron founders and colliery proprietors. By the end of the 19th century, the company had become the largest textile machinery manufacturer in the world, employing more than 12,000 workers.


Retting is a process employing the action of micro-organisms and moisture on plants to dissolve or rot away much of the cellular tissues and pectins surrounding bast-fibre bundles, and so facilitating separation of the fibre from the stem. It is used in the production of fibre from plant materials such as flax and hemp stalks and coir from coconut husks.

Ring spinning

Ring spinning is a method of spinning fibres, such as cotton, flax or wool, to make a yarn. The ring frame developed from the throstle frame, which in its turn was a descendant of Arkwright's water frame. Ring spinning is a continuous process, unlike mule spinning which uses an intermittent action. In ring spinning, the roving is first attenuated by using drawing rollers, then spun and wound around a rotating spindle which in its turn is contained within an independently rotating ring flyer. Traditionally ring frames could only be used for the coarser counts, but they could be attended by semi-skilled labour.

San Jose de Suaita Cotton Mill Museum

The Cotton Mill Museum and Factory of San Jose de Suaita is a museum locates in San José de Suaita, Colombia. It is housed in the former Inscomercial High School Building. It was assisted by Pierre Raymond, a French sociologist who started a huge job to keep the history and importance of this industry in Colombia. It first opened in 2006.

Spindle (textiles)

A spindle is a straight spike usually made from wood used for spinning, twisting fibers such as wool, flax, hemp, cotton into yarn. It is often weighted at either the bottom, middle, or top, commonly by a disc or spherical object called a whorl, but many spindles exist that are not weighted by a whorl, but by thickening their shape towards the bottom, such as Orenburg and French spindles. The spindle may also have a hook, groove, or notch at the top to guide the yarn. Spindles come in many different sizes and weights depending on the thickness of the yarn one desires to spin.

Spinning jenny

The spinning jenny is a multi-spindle spinning frame, and was one of the key developments in the industrialization of weaving during the early Industrial Revolution. It was invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves in Stanhill, Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire in England. The device reduced the amount of work needed to produce cloth, with a worker able to work eight or more spools at once. This grew to 120 as technology advanced. The yarn produced by the jenny was not very strong until Richard Arkwright invented the water-powered 'water frame', which produced yarn harder and stronger than that of the initial spinning jenny. It started the factory system.


A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers (yarn or thread). Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, hemp, or other materials to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting or tatting, felting, or braiding.

The related words "fabric" and "cloth" and "material" are often used in textile assembly trades (such as tailoring and dressmaking) as synonyms for textile. However, there are subtle differences in these terms in specialized usage. A textile is any material made of interlacing fibres, including carpeting and geotextiles. A fabric is a material made through weaving, knitting, spreading, crocheting, or bonding that may be used in production of further goods (garments, etc.). Cloth may be used synonymously with fabric but is often a piece of fabric that has been processed.

Textile manufacturing

Textile manufacturing is a major industry. It is based on the conversion of fibre into yarn, yarn into fabric. These are then dyed or printed, fabricated into clothes. Different types of fibres are used to produce yarn. Cotton remains the most important natural fibre, so is treated in depth. There are many variable processes available at the spinning and fabric-forming stages coupled with the complexities of the finishing and colouration processes to the production of a wide ranges of products.

The Wool-Pack

The Wool-Pack is a children's historical novel written and illustrated by Cynthia Harnett, published by Methuen in 1951. It was the first published of four children's novels that Harnett set in 15th-century England. She won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising it as the year's best children's book by a British subject.G. P. Putnam's Sons published the first U.S. edition in 1953, entitled Nicholas and the Wool-Pack: an adventure story of the Middle Ages. In 1984 it was reissued under yet another title, The Merchant's Mark (Minneapolis: Lerner). Both American editions retained Harnett's illustrations.

A television miniseries based on the story was broadcast by the BBC in 1970.

Weavers' cottage

A weavers' cottage was (and to an extent is) a type of house used by weavers for cloth production in the putting-out system sometimes known as the domestic system.

Weavers' cottages were common in Great Britain, often with dwelling quarters on the lower floors and loom-shop on the top floor. Cellar loomshops on the ground floor or in the basement were found where cotton was woven, as they provided high humidity. A loom-shop can be often recognised by a long row of windows which provided maximum light for the weaver.

Timeline of clothing and fashion
Middle Ages
1500s–1820s Western fashion
1830s–1910s Western fashion
1920s–1980s Western fashion
See also
History of ...
Regional and ethnic

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