Handbook of Textiles by A.F. Barker


Handbook of Textiles
By A.F. Barker

Handbook of Textiles

IN the following pages’ practically the whole· rallge of textiles comes nllder ·review, with the exception of certaill very special brallches, such as ‘l’rimmings, Hose-pipings, neltings, etc. It iH hardly to he expected tlmt such a wide field can he satisfactorily covered by one writer, however well he may have heen trained and whatever Il1a,}’have been hiH opportunities of gailling practical experience an<1 insight. Thus, although I alone am responsible for the grent Imlk of the work, special chapters hy recognised authoritim; ho.ve heon introduced. Professor Gardner is responsible for the chapters 011 “‘rhe Mercerized and Artificial Fibres” and “Dyeing”; :Mr. R. Snow for the chapter on “Silk ‘l’hrowing and Spinning”; Mr. W. H. Cook for the chapter on “The Cotton Industry”; and Professor Bradbury for the chapter on ” The Linen Industry.” I’ll at these chapters .add much to the practical value of the treatise will at once be conceded.

The authors hope that this work may prove of value to those who require expensive but accurate information on the whole range of the Textile Industries; that the technicalities dealt with in the’ work will serve well the pmctical man in his every-day difficulties; and finally that the student desiring 1111 all-round knowledge upon which to soundly base his later special knowlodge will here JilHl that which he soelu;.


THE authentic history of the textile industries has been carried so far back into the past ages by the archreological discoveries of the last hundred years that an interesting account of the evolution of these industries could readily be compiled. Such an account,’ however, while of interest from an archreological and historical point of view, might not be of much practical value: it would almost certainly be diffuse where concentration and triteness were desirable, and, possibly, too brief in dealing.with those periods when change multiplied change, causing a rapid and extensive evolution.

A sequential history of the development of the textile industries will here be preferable, although such will naturally sacrifice a certain amount of absolute accuracy to ensure a more perfect statement of the sequence of developments; perhaps even a sacrifice of actual historic order may at times be necessary to impress the real historic teaching involved. Not that in the following pages history is to be outraged and actualities suppressed or changed out of recognition; but rather that to gain all that history should teach us a certain practical licence will be talmn, its justification being III the clearness and precision thereby gained.

Throwing back our minds to the time when ~)Ur ancestors were emerging froUl the barbaric state, we can well picture to ourselves their earliest dresH as the skin” of slaughtered animals. As the human race was probably evolved from the torrid-temperate zone (Central A~ia), it is possible that some lighter form of wearing garment preceded the skins of animals for personal wear, But it seems very probable that the first idea of textures of real wearing value would be first thus suggested.

If any animal such as the sheep then existed, we can well imagine that the shearing of a fleece would suggest the matting together of fibres already favourably disposed for the formation of a continuous covering. Felt fabrics undoubtedly came early in the historic sequence; thus both garments and hats of felt were worn in Ancient Greece; while remains of felts can also be referred to a much earlier period. But wool being the only fibre which truly” felts,” the felt industry naturally cannot go further back than to the discovery of the felting property of wool.

Wool could only be converted into a woven fabric by being spun into a “fibre-thread.” Now prior to the spinnmg of “fibre-threads “-or yarns as we now term them -the art of interweaving rushes and other fibres or bundles of fibres of long length was undoubtedly practised, so that the art of weaving evidently preceded that of spinning in the natural evolution. Again, it is probable that the art of weaving preceded the art of felting, as it is a debateable point whether the art of felting preceded the art of spinning.

The spinning and weaving of fibre-threads or yarns are obviously most delicate processes in comparison with rush and coarse fibre weaving; but it is nevertheless true that as far back as the early Egyptian Dynasties a most refined art of weaving was practised, so much so that to-day Egyptian mummy cloths of a gauze structure are found worthy of reproduction.

Turning to the conditions under which the arts of spinning and weaving would be practised in the early days:: of our civilization, we come across traditional industries retained in the family. It is more than probable that in some of the ancient civilizations the textile industries became more than family concerns, but so far as we are concerned we may regard the textile industry as essentially a family industry until the home industries-developed from family industries – appeared about the commencement of the eighteenth century. This does not discount the “Trade Guilds” which flourished in many centres of industry, such being based as much upon the family as upon a more highly organized form of the industry.

So long ::s all industries were distributed over the country it is evident that there would neither be the need nor the incentive for large production: the incentive would rather be towards the production of better fabrics and more artistic effects. Hence the marvellous beauty of many of the fabrics which came down to us from a very early date. And it is interesting and instructive ·to note tha,t up to the nineteenth century attempts to introduce machines to facilitate production invariably claimed small consideration, while new methods of producing elaborate styles were certainly more than welcome. The “draw-loom” was successfully introduced from China, but M.deGennes’ power- 100:~1 failed; Jacquard looms were in use long before the power-loom was either invented or adopted by the trade. Thus the art of producing elaborate and beautiful textiles followed civilization from the East to Southern Europe and from Southern Europe northwards. Marked indications of this line of development are still evident in the presentday organization of our industries, as will be shown later.

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