Textiles have been being produced since 34,000 BCE. In the thousands of years that have passed since then, technologies have been invented and cultures have been created that have contributed to the vast array of textile styles we currently have to choose from. Here’s a condensed version of everything you would want to know about textiles.
What are they?
A textile is a material made of natural or artificial fibres. Textiles are made by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibres together.
When did people start making them?
History has shown that textiles were made as earlier as prehistoric times and, thanks to industrialization and modern manufacturing, the production of textiles has grown exponentially.
What are they used for?
Textiles serve so many functions. They can be made into clothes, bags, or baskets. They can be used for carpeting or other household items such as window curtains, towels, and table clothes. Balloons, kites, rags, nets, handkerchiefs, the list goes on and on.
Where do they come from?
Textiles can be made from animal hair or fur. Examples of this are cashmere, wool, and silk. Paper, hemp, and coir are made from plants. Mineral textiles include glass fibres, asbestos, and basalt fibres. The textiles you are probably most familiar with are synthetic, including polyester, spandex, and nylon.
How can they be treated?
Dyeing textiles requires dozens of gallons of water for each pound of clothing. To create a coloured design or pattern, coloured fibres can be weaved together. Various techniques have been invented to incorporate texture and embellishment to textile styles and designs. Techniques include resist dyeing, woodblock printing, bleaching, and starching.
Have you ever noticed on your travels that many countries have a unique style of textile? Balinese, Kenyan, and Mexican textiles spring to my mind immediately. But the list doesn’t end there.
Guatemala is also known for their textiles. They use a lot of bright colours, and often incorporate folk art into their designs. The fabrics used are generally thick and tough.
Chinese textiles are often made of more delicate fabrics like silk. Again,many symbols of their traditional folklore are included in the designs, like dragons, birds, and tigers.
Indian textiles are quite interesting in that they have a lot of texture. Stitching is often thick and therefore dramatically lifted from the fabric. It is also common in sew small mirrors and beads right onto the fabric.
What country comes to mind when you think of the highest quality fashion? Italy comes to my mind. Italian textiles are of a very high quality and use rich colours such as deep ‘Pope’ red, gold, and turquoise.