Textile manufacturing has a tradition of millennia in many parts of the world. Craft textiles are a desirable item for shopping.
|“||A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; (...) you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.||”|
—The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the fictional guidebook described in Douglas Adam's novel of the same name)
Historically, many natural fibers have been used for textile purposes.
- Cotton is textile from the cotton flower. The Industrial Revolution made cotton the most widespread fiber in the world. Inexpensive and easy to maintain.
- Wool is a textile fiber from hairs of mammals such as sheep, goat, llama and camel. It is used for clothing, furnishing (especially carpets). It is also one of the fibers used in 'felt' making.
- Silk is made by the thread of the silk moth's larva; in historical times the silk road was used to transport goods, including silk, between Asia and Europe.
- Linen is fiber from the flax herb. With long, thin fibers which absorb plenty of water and survive laundry, linen is useful for summer clothing, handkerchiefs and towels. Not be confused with modern usage of the term linen to mean a high grade fabric vs the fiber.
Other natural fibers used historically have included jute, and hemp, which was used in the manufacture of all manner of durable canvas for domestic, agricultural and industrial usage. Ropes have also been made from substances like sisal, derived from an agave.
Modern synthetic textiles are just as varied, but Rayon and Nylon were amongst the first to be widely available. Sometimes natural and synthetic fibers are combined, creating a wider variety of textile materials for clothing and non clothing uses alike.
Fabrics, where textile fibers are combined to form a sheet of material are, are typically of two types, woven or knitted. Woven fabric is made of a warp of parallel threads, and the weft interlaced with these at a right angle. Knitted material is from one thread forming loops pulled through each other (or several, for color patterns). Carpets can also be knotted. In felt, the individual fibers are mixed together by rubbing or other methods.
The textile industry has been the forerunner of the Industrial Revolution around the world. Prior to British colonialism South Asia was the world's leading textile producers with manufacturers engaging in several business practices that would characterize the later industrial era in the Global North. However, policies of the British East India Company and later the British Raj destroyed this branch of industry. Textiles were among the first consumer goods to be mass-produced in industrial Britain and the industrialization of the United States, and textile factories were among the places that saw the rise of organized labor and women's organizations. In the second half of the 20th century, many textile industries in the Western world were dismantled, moving overseas, especially to Asia, to an extent reversing the colonial era. As Asia's fast-growing "tiger economies" have seen increased development and wages, textile mills have moved on to countries where income is still relatively low, particularly Bangladesh.
- 1 Bursa. This city was the earliest Ottoman capital and one of the western termini of the Silk Road. It has been renowned for its silk since medieval times. A silk bazaar dating back to 1491 exists in the old town. In the outskirts, a textile museum converted from a 1930s wool factory has sections dedicated to wool and silk.
- Harris, Scotland, famous for woolen products, especially Harris Tweed.
- 2 Wales National Wool Museum, Dre-Fach Felindre (Llandysul, Mid-Wales), ☏ .
- 3 Australian National Wool Museum, 26 Moorabool St, Geelong (cnr Brougham St). Every day 9:30AM-5PM except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Allow 90 minutes. Includes a tourist information office. $7:30 adult, $5.90 concession, $3.65 child.
- Wool museum (Museo dell'Arte della Lana di Stia), Museo dell'Arte della Lana di Stia (follow river Arno upstream), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Museum on wool in textiles in the old textile factory. It provides a historic bacground and displays many of the old machines. Also have workshops that produce textiles. €3.
- 4 Angers castle (Château d'Angers), 2 Boulevard du Général de Gaulle. This impressive 9th-century castle hosts an extremely large medieval Tapestry of the Apocalypse, really a spectacular set of tapestries which is arguably one of the very greatest artworks that has come down to us from the Middle Ages.
- 5 Bayeux Tapestry (Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux), Centre Guillaume le Conquérant, Rue de Nesmond, Bayeux, ☏ , fax: . open daily all year, except for the 2nd week in January, 24–26 December, 31 Dec-2 Jan, hours: (mid-March–October) 9:00-18:30 (summer an extra half hour) (November–February) 9:30-12:30 and 14:00-18:00. the historically unique Bayeux Tapestry is a 70 metre-long, 50 cm high embroidery made from wool on a linen canvas in the late 11th century to chronicle the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in 1066. Scenes include the Channel crossing, the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066), the death of the Saxon English king Harold and the subsequent coronation of Duke William as King of England. Multi-language audioguides are available and strongly recommended, as there are few visual interpretation aids accompanying the Tapestry itself. Allow 1–2 hours to visit, including the adjacent exhibition. adults €9.50, concessions €7.50, students €5.
- 6 Cromford Mill, Mill Lane. Cromford. The first water-powered cotton spinning mill developed by Richard Arkwright in 1771. Buildings are being restored, an informative tour available but little machinery to see.
- 7 National Quilt Museum, 215 Jefferson, Paducah, ☏ .
- 8 Lowell National Historical Park, 67 Kirk Street, Lowell (Massachusetts), ☏ . Commemorates the history of the American Industrial Revolution in Lowell. Includes the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, textile mills, canals, worker houses, and 19th-century commercial buildings.
- 9 Iran's National Rug Gallery and Carpet Museum (Persian: موزه فرش ایران), Dr Fatemi (دکتر فاطمی), Tehran (From M: Enqelab-Eslami 1.5 km N, near to Laleh Park, Fatemi & North Kargar Intersection). This exhibits a variety of Persian carpets from all over Iran, dating from 18th century to present. It has a library that contains 7,000 books
- 10 Almgrens sidenväveri, Repslagargatan 15 (Stockholm/Södermalm). An original 19th century silk factory with a silk museum.
- 11 National Textile Museum (Muzium Tekstil Negara), 26 Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ☏ , , fax: . Every day 9AM-6PM except Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
- 12 Museo Franz Mayer, Av. Hidalgo 45, Centro Historico (Mexico City). Comprehensive decorative arts museum that includes Mexico's largest textile collection.
- 13 Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Av. Hidalgo 917, Centro Historico (Oaxaca). Exhibits focus on indigenous textile forms and techniques, including different styles of shawls, blankets, and carpets. Workshops on creating artesanal textiles.