Timeline of clothing and textiles technology

This timeline of clothing and textiles technology covers the events of fiber and flexible woven material worn on the body; including making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, and systems (technology).

Historical timeline

Ancient and Prehistoric

Medieval history

  • 500 AD – jia xie method for resist dyeing (usually silk) using wood blocks invented in China. An upper and a lower block is made, with carved out compartments opening to the back, fitted with plugs. The cloth, usually folded a number of times, is inserted and clamped between the two blocks. By unplugging the different compartments and filling them with dyes of different colors, a multi-colored pattern can be printed over quite a large area of folded cloth.[9]
  • 500s – Handheld roller cotton gins invented in the Indian subcontinent.[11]
  • 500-1000 – Spinning wheel invented in the Indian subcontinent.[12]
  • 600s – Oldest samples of cloth printed by woodblock printing from Egypt.
  • 1000s – Finely decorated examples of cotton socks made by true knitting using continuous thread appear in Egypt.[4]
  • 1000s – The earliest clear illustrations of the spinning wheel come from the Islamic world.[13]
  • 1100s-1300s – Dual-roller cotton gins appear in India and China.[14]
  • 1275 – Approximate date of a silk burial cushion knit in two colors found in the tomb of Spanish royalty.
  • 1200s-1300s – The worm gear roller cotton gin invented in the Indian subcontinent during the early Delhi Sultanate era.[15]
  • 1493 – The first available reference to lace is in a will by one of the ruling Milanese Sforza family.[16]
  • 1400s-1500s – The incorporation of the crank handle in the cotton gin, first appeared in the Indian subcontinent some time during the late Delhi Sultanate or the early Mughal Empire.[17]
  • 1562 – Date of first example of use of the purl stitch, from a tomb in Toledo, Spain, which allows knitting of panels of material. Previously material had to be knitted in the round (in a tubular form) and cut open.
  • 1589 – William Lee invents stocking frame, the first but hand-operated weft knitting machine.

Modern era

Early modern period

Late modern period

  • 1833 – Walter Hunt invents the lockstitch sewing machine but, dissatisfied with its function, does not patent it.
  • 1842 – Lancashire Loom developed by Bullough and Kenworthy, a semi automatic Power loom.
  • 1842 – John Greenough patents the first sewing machine in the United States.
  • 1846 – John Livesey adapts John Heathcoat's bobbinet machine into the curtain machine
  • 1847 – William Mason Patents his "Mason self-acting" Mule.
  • 1849 – Matthew Townsend patents the variant of latch needle which has been the most widely used needle in weft knitting machines.
  • 1855 – Redgate combines a circular loom with a warp knitting machine
  • 1856 – William Henry Perkin invents the first synthetic dye.
  • 1856 – Thomas Jeacock of Leicester patented the tubular pipe compound needle.
  • 1857 – Luke Barton introduces a self-acting narrowing mechanism on S. Wise's knitting machine.
  • 1857 – Arthur Paget patents a multi-head knitting machine called "Paget-machine".
  • 1859 – Wilhelm Barfuss improves on Redgates machine, called Raschel machines (named after the French actress Élisabeth Félice Rachel).
  • 1864 – William Cotton patents the straight bar knitting machine named after him ("Cotton machine").
  • 1865 – The American Isaac Wixom Lamb patents the flat knitting machine using latch needles.
  • 1865 – Clay invents the double-headed latch needle which has enabled to create purl stitch knitting.
  • 1866 – The American Mac Nary patents the circular knitting machine (with vertical needles) for fabrication of socks and stockings with heel and toe pouches.
  • 1878 – Henry Griswold adds a second set of needles (horizontal needles) to the circular knitting machine enabling knitting of rib fabrics as cuff for socks.
  • 1881 – Pierre Durand invents the tubular pipe compound needle.
  • 1892 – Cross, Bevan & Beadle invent Viscose.
  • 1890s – Development of the Barmen machine


  • 1889 – Northrop Loom: Draper Corporation, First automatic bobbin changing weaving loom placed in production. Over 700,000 would be sold worldwide.
  • 1900 – Heinrich Stoll creates the flat bed purl knitting machine.
  • 1910 – Spiers invents the circular bed purl knitting machine.
  • c. 1920 – Hattersley loom developed by George Hattersley and Sons.
  • 1949 – Heinrich Mauersberger invents the sewing-knitting technique and his "Malimo" machine.
  • 1953 – First commercial polyester fiber production by DuPont.
  • 1954 – Fiber reactive dye invented.
  • 1963 – Open-end spinning developed in Czechoslovakia.

See also


  1. 1 2 Lambert, Joseph B. (2008-08-06). Traces of the Past: Unraveling the Secrets of Archaeology Through Chemistry. Basic Books. ISBN 0786725737.
  2. 1 2 3 Cambridge History of Western Textiles p. 39-47
  3. Barber 1991.
  4. 1 2 Theaker 2006.
  5. Cambridge History of Western Textiles p. 30-39
  6. Bender 1990.
  7. Roche, Julian (1994). The International Cotton Trade. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Publishing Ltd. p. 5.
  8. Bennett & Bird 1960.
  9. 1 2 Shelagh Vainker in Anne Farrer (ed), "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas", 1990, British Museum publications, ISBN 0-7141-1447-2
  10. D.L.Carroll Dating the Foot-powered loom: the Coptic evidence American Journal of Archaeology 1985 vol. 89; 168-73
  11. Lakwete, Angela (2003). Inventing the Cotton Gin: Machine and Myth in Antebellum America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 1–6. ISBN 9780801873942.
  12. Smith, C. Wayne; Cothren, J. Tom (1999). Cotton: Origin, History, Technology, and Production. 4. John Wiley & Sons. pp. viii. ISBN 978-0471180456. The first improvement in spinning technology was the spinning wheel, which was invented in India between 500 and 1000 A.D.
  13. Pacey, Arnold (1991) [1990]. Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History (First MIT Press paperback ed.). Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
  14. Baber, Zaheer (1996). The Science of Empire: Scientific Knowledge, Civilization, and Colonial Rule in India. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 57. ISBN 0-7914-2919-9.
  15. Irfan Habib (2011), Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500, page 53, Pearson Education
  16. Reigate, Emily (1986). An Illustrated Guide to Lace (1988 ed.). WoodBridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors Club. p. 11. ISBN 1851490035.
  17. Irfan Habib (2011), Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500, pages 53-54, Pearson Education


  • Barber, E. J. W.; Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with special reference to the Aegean; Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1991; ISBN 0-691-03597-0 (Barber 1991)
  • Barber, Elizabeth Wayland, Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, W. W. Norton & Company, new edition, 1995 (Barber 1995)
  • Bender Jørgensen, Lise; 'Stone-Age Textiles in North Europe' in Textiles in Northern Archaeology, Textile Symposium in York, North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles Monograph 3, NESAT III; London Archetype Publications, 1990; ISBN 1-873132-05-0.
  • Bennett, Wendell C. & Bird, Junius B.; Andean Culture History; Handbook Series No. 15; second and revised edition; ©The American Museum of Natural History; A publication of the Anthropological Handbook Fund, New York, 1960
  • Jenkins, David, ed.: The Cambridge History of Western Textiles, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-34107-8
  • Theaker, Julie. 'History 101' in www.knitty.com
  • Offermann Peter, Tausch-Marton, Harald: Grundlagen der Maschenwarentechnologie. VEB Fachbuchverlag, Leipzig, 1978
  • Spencer, J. David: Knitting Technology. Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1983. ISBN 0-08-024763-6
  • Modig, Niels.: Hosiery Machines. Meisenbach, Bamberg, 1988. ISBN 3-87525-048-6

Further reading

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