Fibers are the building blocks of fabric (stoff dronning). They may be natural (from wool, flax, or cotton) or artificial (like acrylic, nylon, or spandex). These fibers are spun into yarn, and individual yarns are then knit or woven together to make flexible materials called textiles or fabric. Some of the methods used to produce fabric include knitting, weaving, crocheting, felting, knotting, and quilting. Fabric has been made by humans for thousands of years.
Studies suggest as far back as 34,000 BCE, when the carbon dating for dyed flax fibers were found in Eastern European caves. Though fabric is made by technology rooted in ancient times, there are many important new technological developments in fabric production. Many are in the area of performance fabrics, which include body-cinching stretch, wrinkle-resistant cloth, and flame retardant fabric. Basic weave patterns of fabrics, like the twill, plain, and satin weaves, have not changed much over time.
The textile industry was the largest industry in the 15th century. Textile production underwent huge changes as a result of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the sewing machine in 1790 (https://www.stoffdronning.no/categories/symaskiner1). The sewing machine would eventually lead to mass production of ready-to-wear fabrics and the democratization of fashion to every level of society, meaning that style was no longer exclusive to the wealthy.
Prior to that time, cloth for every day use was often basic in color and design and course in texture. Most people could not afford the expensive dyes and production methods of fancier fabrics. Additionally, the vast majority of women made clothes for their families rather than buying them. The wealthy could afford finer dyes like purple, fancier fabrics like silk, and embellishments like lace and beading. They could also afford to have their clothes made by tailors and seamstresses.
Though most commonly associated with the fashion industry, textiles serve a variety of functions from clothing, to art, bags, baskets, beds, car upholstery, carpeting, drapery, furniture, netting, parachutes, sails, tablecloths, tents, and towels. Industrial purposes include usage in filters, composite materials, and architecture. Industrial textiles, often called ‘technical textiles,’ are chosen typically chosen for properties of chemical composition rather than appearance. Agrotextile, automotive, geotextile, medical, and performance clothing applications all utilize technical textiles
. An example of an agrotextile is fabric used for protecting crops; a geotextile would be an embankment reinforcement; a medical textile would be an implant or prosthetic; and performance clothing would be Kevlar used in bullet-proof vests or flame retardant fabric used in firefighter uniforms to ward off heat and radiation. New applications for fabrics include interactive health monitoring, communication via embedded NFC chips, and water repellent fabric for swimsuits and diving gear. From prehistoric to post-modern, fabrics will continue to evolve to meet a variety of mankind’s needs