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Clothing, How Did They Make It? Part I: High Fiber (acoup.blog)
137 points by CapitalistCartr 40 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments

I recently read and can recommend Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years as a deep perspective on the practices and participants in the making of textiles, and their societal and practical reasons. It's fascinating that historically, the practice of hand spinning thread and yarn absolutely dominated available time, and today we know so little about it.

Thanks for sharing that book. I've added it to my list.

It always amazes me to think about the influence of the industrial revolution and mass production. Prior to the industrial period, things like linens, blankets, lace, etc. considered extremely valuable and were part of your estate to be inherited by future generations. The only textile that retains a portion of this (aura? mystique?) is silk - but even this is largely mass produced now.

There may be some rare exceptions like woolen blankets and such made in low batches by artisanal folks. They are relatively expensive but not by historical standards (one months earnings, for example, but may be a couple of days or more for a middle class earner.) On the other hand you can get nice down covers for cheap.

Mass production only looks at the supply side. I don't think it fully explains consumer behavior.

The advent of mass marketing and consumerism has given an expectation for everything to be convenient and disposable.

Those linens, blankets, and lace even if hand made from the finest fabrics are to discarded once they are out of fashion.

This too is explained by mass production. Without it, the ability to regularly discard linens and blankets and buy new ones due to fashion would be out of reach of all but the wealthiest.


Pineapples used to be rented for parties.

It’s why a lot old decorations had so many in it.

As late as the 1920s, there were city thieves specializing in stealing bed linens that were being dried outside on the fresh air and selling them through a network of fences.

Nowadays, I cannot think of anybody who would ever buy second-hand bed sheets.

Russ Roberts recently interviewed Virginia Postrel [0] on the history of textile manufacturing; I found it absolutely fascinating.

[0]: https://www.econtalk.org/virginia-postrel-on-textiles-and-th...

Cool, I heard her on another podcast and found it very interesting!


I recently visited a hacienda in the Yucatán that makes twine and rope. It was super interesting to see them pull fiber out of the agave plants and weave it into thicker ropes. If you ever get a chance to see such a process in person, I recommend it!

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