Fabric designers use an array of textiles and methods for coloring and creating fabrics. Their work dates as far back as the early textile trade on the Silk Road. Established during the Han Dynasty in 114 B.C., the Silk Road was a historically important 5000 mile trade route between China and the Mediterranean essential to the sharing of manufactured goods, cultures, and philosophies in the ancient world.
Textiles are yarns that are woven or knitted to make fabric. The use of textiles defines the manner in which people dress as well as the way in which they decorate and embellish their surroundings.
Textiles have been a vital part of daily life for thousands of years. Notwithstanding animal skins and fur, the first type of created textile, felt, dates back to the late Stone Age more than 100,000 years ago
The earliest occurrences of fabrics such as cotton, linen, and silk were around 5,000 B.C. in India, Egypt, and China. It is interesting to note that methods used in ancient times for manufacturing textiles such as plain weaves, satin weaves and twill have not changed a great deal over the centuries. What has changed is the speed of manufacturing and rate of production.
Textiles can be obtained from a variety of sources. Early fabrics were derived from animals, plants, and minerals. These might include things like fur, cotton, wool, and silk. Synthetic petroleum derived fibers were introduced in the mid 20th century and include fabrics such as polyester, spandex, nylon, and acrylic.
In addition to the multitude of textiles available for use, there are many different methods for creating fabrics. The oldest method for creating fabric is felting which takes a mat of fibers, squeezes them together in a liquid creating a tangled, flat material. Other methods for creating fabric include weaving, knitting, lacing and interlacing.
Textiles also are colored using an array of techniques. These may include weaving fibers of different colors together, stitching colored yarns or threads through existing fabric, or dying and printing directly onto fabric. Over the years, dying methods have evolved so that fabric of every color and pattern can be created.
Unlike their predecessors many years ago, fabric designers today are limited only by their imagination in creating textiles for fashion, home, accessories, and more.
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