I recently purchased a 6 piece queen sheet set for my bed and marveled at how something so useful, and so difficult to make myself, could be so inexpensive, costing only $30, or about 2 hours of my labor at minimum wage.
I did a little digging and found this video on how fabric was made before fossil energy:
And this video on how fabric is made today with fossil energy:
A podcast I monitor serendipitously had an episode today on the history of fabric making.
Author and journalist Virginia Postrel talks about her book The Fabric of Civilization and How Textiles Made the World with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Postrel tells the fascinating story behind the clothes we wear and everything that goes into producing them throughout history. The history of textiles, Postrel argues, is a good way of understanding the history of the world.
For those who prefer video:
Postrel described the process required to make fabric products:
- get fiber
- grow plants or breed sheep
- harvest plants or sheer sheep
- clean fiber
- transport fiber to spinner
- spin fiber into thread
- align fibers
- stretch and twist
- transport thread to weaver
- weave fiber into fabric
- set up warp threads
- pass weft thread through alternate warp threads
- cut and hem edges
- transport fabric to manufacturer
- manufacture final product
- dye fabric
- cut fabric
- sew fabric
- transport product to consumer
Postrel also provided some interesting data:
- A single pair of jeans requires 10 Km of thread.
- The fastest pre-fossil energy manual spinners in the world could produce 100m of thread per hour taking 13 x 8 hour days to produce enough thread for one pair of jeans.
- A modern fossil energy spinning plant can produce 10 Km of thread in a few seconds.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…