Fabrics are used in anything that a person wears, from their basic jeans to a complex batman costume. All-natural fibers were used for centuries, while artificial fibers are fairly new and most came about in the last century. The history of all fabrics is an interesting subject.
8000 BC - Hemp
Hemp was first incorporated into fabrics.
Nomadic tribes introduced hemp to the Mediterranean in 2300 BC.
In the 1930s hemp was banned from clothing use in the United States.
In 1989 the United States allowed hemp for fabric use again.
5000 BC - Flax
The oldest type of textile used in fabrics.
Produced in a thinner and softer grade for Egyptian pharaohs, who were covered with flax shrouds after they died.
The Soviet Union is the largest producer of flax fabrics.
Poland, France, Germany and Belgium also produce flax.
Northern Ireland and Belgium are the largest exporters of flax.
3000 BC - Cotton
Possibly used as early as 5000 BC, but most historians agree 3000 BC was the exact date.
Egyptians used a cotton type material around 2500 BC.
The cotton gin, which was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney, made it easier to process cotton and make the fabric.
The power loom was invented in 1884, which allowed for better cotton fabrics and more patterns and designs.
The United States, India, China and the Soviet Union are the biggest producers of cotton.
Cotton is also produced in Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, the Sudan and Pakistan.
3000 BC - Wool
Wool first appeared during the Late Stone Age.
There are 200 different types of wool.
Wool comes from 40 sheep breeds.
The Soviet Union, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, China and New Zealand are the biggest producers of wool.
2600 BC - Silk
Silk was originally found by a princess in China.
Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm and two threads the attach together during the cocooning.
A Chinese emperor's wife started silk culture in 1725 BC.
The Chinese kept their manufacturing and cultivation processes secret for nearly 3,000 years.
Legend claims that two monks stole silkworm eggs and took them to another country by using secret compartments in their walking sticks.
A Chinese princess who married an Indian prince revealed the secrets of silk.
Japan is the biggest producer of silk as well as the biggest exporter.
1910 - Rayon
The first type of artificial fiber.
The American Viscose Company began producing rayon in 1910.
There are two types of rayon manufactured: cuprammonium rayon and viscose rayon.
Rayon is no longer produced in the United States.
1924 - Acetate
Acetate fiber was originally produced by the Celanese Corporation in the United States.
1939 - Nylon
Nylon was developed by the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. in the United States
Nylon is second only to polyester in terms of artificial fabric use.
1950 - Acrylic
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. invented acrylic fibers in 1950.
The United States was the sole producer of acrylic fibers during the 1950s.
1953 - Polyester
Polyester was created in the United States and invented by the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc.
Polyester is used more than any other type of artificial fabric in America.
1954 - Triacetate
The Celanese Corporation in the United States invented triacetate.
The production of triacetate was stopped in 1985.
1959 - Spandex
Spandex was created by the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc.
Spandex contains a property that allows it to stretch and move like rubber.
1961 - Polyolefin/Polypropylene
US based Hercules Incorporated discovered a way of producing the fibers.
Polyolefin won the Nobel Prize in 1966.
1989 - Micro Fibers
Micro fibers were introduced in 1989 by E.I. du Point Nemours & Company, Inc.
Micro fibers are now considered synthetic fibers.
Micro fibers are the thinnest type of fibers available, even thinner than natural fibers.
1993 - Lyocell
Lyocell was introduced by the Courtaulds Fibers company.
The material comes from wood pulp spun together using a specific and secret process.
Fabric History : provides information on different fabrics in a timeline format.
There are benefits to both artificial and natural fibers. Each one is durable and long-lasting, as well as strong. Those interested in learning more about the history of different fibers should look at the provided resources and our various costumes.