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Posts Tagged ‘history of textiles’

Barbie’s chic and cool outfit is made of polyethylene fibers.

In her white ensemble, she looks every bit the ageless fashion icon. Her straight skirt, falling to mid-calf, ends in a precise fringe, its sharp lines contrasting with her softly knitted bustier. A scarf tossed insouciantly around her neck completes the look. Its navy borders and the matching ribbon in her upswept hair add a touch of sophisticated color. You won’t find this Barbie in the toy department … She and her one-of-a-kind outfit live in an office at MIT … Research scientist Svetlana Boriskina uses Barbie to model her vision of future apparel.

Virginia Postrel – American journalist and independent scholar. This quote is from her book, The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World, published by Basic Books in 2020.

Postrel refers to Boriskina’s work creating fabrics that will keep humans as cool as if they were naked. Clothing traps the heat that our bodies are constantly releasing, which is great in cold weather but not on hot days. (And with Climate Change the world is only getting warmer.) What if a fabric (made of altered fibers) allowed the body’s heat to move right through it? “Your clothes could let you feel as cool as you’d be without them while protecting you from sunburn and stares.”

This story is from Chapter 7, titled Innovators, and just one of many fascinating things to learn about the past, present, and future of textiles. A book rich in information covering the history of fiber, thread, weaving, dyeing, trading, buying, and what the future may hold, The Fabric of Civilization reminds us just how important textiles are in our daily lives.

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We live surrounded by cloth. We are swaddled in it at birth and shrouds are drawn over our faces at death. And yet there persists a stubborn belief that clothing and cloth are frivolous subjects – unworthy of serious notice – despite their overwhelming importance to human evolution.

Kassia St. Clair, British journalist and author.

This is, in part, a quote by Ms. St. Clair from the inside jacket of her book The Golden Thread: How Fabric Change History (Liveright Publishing).

I’ve started off the new year with this book, dipping back into non-fiction after reading quite a lot of fiction in Pandemic 2020. Having taken a textiles class in 2017, some of the information in this book is a welcome refresher, but I’m learning new things too! Such as the Vikings used wool to fashion their ships’ sails. I’m looking forward to the chapter on lace and I’m very intrigued by “Rayon’s Dark Past.”

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