How Cloth is Made – Textiles and Clothing – Costume History

How cloth is made, textiles, clothing and fashion history. Free online books by the hundreds. Weaving, costume history, fabrics.



Costume and Fashion

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Textile Fabrics Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Textile Fabrics”. Be patient as the page loads.

Textile History Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Textile History”. Be patient as the page loads.

Textile Industry Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Textile Industry”. Be patient as the page loads.


Barker, A. F.
Van Nostrand 1922        Dewey Dec.    677

The Tale of the Spinning-Wheel

Buel, Elizabeth Cynthia Barney
Litchfield, CT: 1903        Dewey Dec.    677

After a history of spinning from antiquity to colonial times, the author provides a detailed description of processing flax for spinning, and includes other material on home cloth production in the northeastern U.S. in the colonial era.

Related books are at: Making Cloth and Clothing on the Frontier

The Preparation and Spinning of Flax and Wool …

as Practiced by the Pioneers of Central Illinois and Demonstrated by Pioneer Men and Women at Meetings of the McLean County Historical Society

Custer, Milo
Bloomington, Il: 1912        Dewey Dec.    677

A small booklet with a description of the processes and equipment used for spinning in frontier Illinois.

Also see our collection of Popular Cultural History Articles: Clothes – Food – Recreation

Textiles for Commercial, Industrial, Evening and Domestic Arts Schools

Dooley, William Henry
Heath 1912        Dewey Dec.    677

“Practical, untechnical work, describing processes of manufacturing wool, silk, cotton and linen
goods. Appendix contains practical directions for testing goods. More technical and comprehensive is Barker’s Textiles (Van Nostrand, 1910).” – A.L.A.Catalog 1904 – 1911

The Country Dyer’s Assistant

Ellis, Asa Jr.
Brookfield, MA: Merriam 1798        Dewey Dec.    667

An American handbook from the end of the 18th century for making and using dyes for coloring fabric. The author says that the procedures described here could be used in the home as well as by professionals.

The Art of Weaving, by Hand and by Power …

with an Introductory Account of its Rise and Progress in Ancient and Modern Times. For the Use of Manufacturers and Others

Gilroy, Clinton G.677
NY: Baldwin 1844        Dewey Dec.   

Chapter headings are: -Introduction, -Plain Weaving, -Tweeling, -Weaving Double Cloth, -Figured Weaving, -Carpeting, -Lace Manufacture, -Spooling, Warping and Sizing, by Power, -Plain Weaving, by Power, -Fancy Weaving, by Power, -Figured Weaving, by Power

Related books are at: Making Cloth and Clothing on the Frontier

The History of Silk, Cotton, Linen, Wool, and other Fibrous Substances

including observations on spinning, dyeing and weaving. Also an account of the pastoral life of the ancients, their social state and attainments in the domestic arts.

Gilroy, Clinton G.
Harper & Brothers 1845        Dewey Dec.    677

Historical processes described here were collected from all over the world, particularly from ancient times. It is divided into four parts:
1. Ancient History of Silk. This includes chapters on fibers similar to silk.
2. Origin and Ancient History of the Sheep. This includes chapters on goats-hair, beavers-wool, camels-wool and camels-hair.
3. Ancient History of the Cotton Manufacture. This includes material on cotton spinning and weaving procedures, from ancient times to the 19th century.
4. Ancient History of the Linen Manufacture. This includes material on the use of flax, hemp and asbestos.

Yarn and Cloth Making; An Economic Study …

A College and Normal School Text Preliminary to Fabric Study and a Reference for Teachers of Industrial History and Art in Secondary and Elementary Schools

Kissell, Mary Lois
NY: Macmillan 1918        Dewey Dec.    677

This textbook is divided into two parts: Yarn Making and Cloth Making, and covers a variety of processes used throughout history for both. The Yarn Making section explains the principles of spinning and describes the following “spinning types”. There are numerous illustrations and there appears to be a bibliography at the end of every subsection, and another at the end of the book. Spinning types are: -Hand Spinning, – Grasped Hand Spindle, – Supported Hand Spindle, – Suspended Hand Spindle, – Jersey and Asiatic Wheels, – Saxony Wheel, – Jenny Frame, – Water Frame, – Hand Mule, – Self-Acting Mule, – Flyer, Cap and Ring Spinning Frames
Weaving types are: -One-Beam Loom, -Weighted Warp Loom, -Two-Bar Loom, -Frameless Two-Bar Loom, -Two-Beam Loom, -One-Shaft Treadle Loom, -Two-Shaft Treadle Loom, -Perfected Hand Loom, -Draw Loom, -Jacquard Loom, -Plain Power Loom

Textiles in America 1650-1870

Montgomery, Florence M.
Norton 1984        Dewey Dec.    677

“A dictionary based on original documents, prints and paintings, commercial records, American merchants’ papers, shopkeepers’ advertisements, and pattern books with original swatches of cloth”. Book cover.

World Textiles; A Concise History

Schoeser, Mary
Thames & Hudson 2003        Dewey Dec.    677

Arranged roughly into chronological periods, the book details technique, materials, and designs and puts them in historical and cultural context. Libr J.

Household Manufactures in the United States, 1640-1860: A Study in Industrial History

Tryon, Rolla Milton
Chicago: University of Chicago 1917        Dewey Dec.    677

Chapter headings are: -Factors affecting Household Manufactures in the Colonies, -The Status of Household Manufactures in the Colonies, -A Quarter-Century of Developments, 1784-1809, -A Year’s Output of the Family Factory (includes household manufactures in every state and territory, and household textile manufactures), -The Products of the Family Factory (wearing apparel, textile supplies, household implements, utensils, furniture, farming implements, building materials, general supplies), -The Transition from Family- to Shop- and Factory-Made Goods, -The Passing of the Family Factory, -Bibliography

Chapter 6, “The Products of the Family Factory”, contains a section entitled “Wearing Apparel and Household Textile Supplies” on pages 190-216. Included here are explanations of all the processes involved in home production of linen, woolen and cotton textiles. There is also a discussion of other products used in wearing apparel on the frontier, such as leather and other animal skins, cattle and buffalo hair, and lint from nettles.

Warp and Woof; the Story of the Textile Arts. The Linen Industry

Very, Edith
Boston: Educational Publishing 1912        Dewey Dec.    677

Chapter headings are:

-Historical Notes
-The Flax Plant
-Processes of Manufacture
-Flax Culture and Linen Manufacture in the United States

A History of Textiles

Wilson, Kax
Westview 1979        Dewey Dec.    677

Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles

Wingate, Isabel B.
Fairchild 1979        Dewey Dec.    677

“Reference source for all branches of the industry. Includes entries on fibers, yarns, fabric construction, finishing and sale, inventors and developers, and government standards and regulations. Includes appendix of organizations involved with the textile industry.” NY Public Lib

The Handicraft Art of Weaving

Woodhouse, Thomas
London: Henry Frowde 1921        Dewey Dec.    677

A volume in the series, “Oxford Technical Manuals”. Contents are:
-Introductory – -Cloth Formation by the Movements of the Weft Yarns – -Weaving Cloth on Simple Frames -Tray Looms
–The Preparation of Warps or Chains for the Loom –Beaming or Winding-on the Warp –Gobelin, Ardebil, and Oriental Fabrics –The Weaving of Persian Donegal , and Real Axminster Rugs and Carpets on Large Frames –Smaller Frames for Use in the Weaving of Tufted and other Fabrics

Costume and Fashion

Clothing & Dress Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Clothing and Dress”. Be patient as the page loads.

Women’s Clothing Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Women’s Clothing”. Be patient as the page loads.

Fashion & the Fashion Industry Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Fashion”. Be patient as the page loads.

Costume Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Costume”. Be patient as the page loads.

Jewelry Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Jewelry”. Be patient as the page loads.

Fashion in History: western dress, prehistoric to present

Bigelow, Marybell S., and Kushino, Kay
Burgess 1979        Dewey Dec.    391

Origins of body coverings and Mesopotamian garments (prehistory-500 B.C.) — Costumes of Ancient Egypt (3700-500 B.C.) — Dress of Crete (3000-1400 B.C.) — Garb of the Greeks (1500-150 B.C.) — Dress of the Etruscans (1300-251 B.C.) — How the Romans looked (700 B.C.-A.D. 476) — Dark Ages and before (8000 B.C.-A.D. 1000) — Elegance of Byzantium (A.D. 330-1453) — More medieval modes (A.D. 1000-1499) — Renaissance elegance (1400-1600) — Opulence of the Baroque (1600-1700) — Elegance of the Enlightened Age (1700-1795) — From revolution to empire (1790-1815) — Romanticism and the Industrial Age (1815-1870) — Impressionism and the Edwardian Era (1870-1910) — Costumes of the modern age of change (1910-1939) — Costume revolutions of the recent past (1940-1970) — Summary: the later years coupled to the past (1930-1970)

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing through American History: 1900 to the Present, Vol 2

1950 – Present

Blanco F., Jose et al.
Greenwood 2008        Dewey Dec.    687

“This fascinating reference set provides two levels of information: descriptions of styles of clothes that Americans have worn and, as important, why they wore those types of clothes… The first half of each volume provides four chapters that each examine the impact that political and cultural events, arts and entertainment, daily life, and family structures have on fashion. The second half of each volume describes the important and everyday fashion and styles of the period, decade by decade, for women, men, and children. The set also includes helpful timelines; resource guides listing web sites, videos, and print publications; an extensive glossary; and illustrations.” – Publisher

Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

Calasibetta, Charlotte
Fairchild 1975        Dewey Dec.    391

This work provides definitions of fashion terms, line drawings, and biographical sketches of designers.

The Complete History of Costume & Fashion, from Ancient Egypt to the Present Day

Cosgrave, Bronwyn
Checkmark 2001        Dewey Dec.    391

The Towering World of Jimmy Choo: A Glamorous Story of Power, Profits, and the Pursuit of the Perfect Shoe

Crowe, Lauren Goldstein and Maceira de Rosen, Sagra
Bloomsbury 2009        Dewey Dec.    391

“A fascinating, well-written chronology that draws a chillingly accurate behind-the-scenes portrait of a contemporary fashion brand.” -Booklist

The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour

DeJean, Joan E.
Free Press 2005        Dewey Dec.    391

“An unusual and delightfully educational perspective on snob appeal.” -Booklist

Two Centuries of Costume in America, 1620-1820

Earle, Alice Morse
Macmillan 1903        Dewey Dec.    391

Also see: Section 677 Textiles in Manufacturing, Chemicals, Textiles & Handicrafts

Fancy Dresses Described; or, What to Wear at Fancy Balls

Holt, Ardern
Scribner 1896        Dewey Dec.    391

Gentlemen’s Fancy Dress: How to Choose it

Holt, Ardern
Scribner 1898        Dewey Dec.    391

Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style that’s Right for Your Body

Kelly, Clinton and London, Stacy
Three Rivers 2005        Dewey Dec.    391

This fashion guide describes specific male and female body types, and the kinds of outfits that match well with them. “Each type’s section opens with a photo of an average-looking model sporting a basic swimsuit, along with comments from the model and the authors. . . . Ladies and gentlemen, start your shopping engines—and don’t leave home without this book!” -Publ Wkly

The Concise History of Costume and Fashion

Laver, James
Abrams 1969        Dewey Dec.    391

The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789-1815

Le Bourhis, Katell, ed.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 1989        Dewey Dec.    391

On the costume history of the period, the ecclesiastical and military garb, jewelry, silk weaving, Napoleon’s own wardrobe, and the influence of French fashions in America. This work accompanies a major exhibition at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from December 12, 1989 to April 15, 1990.

Contents: Costume in the Age of Napoleon – Jewels of the empire – Joseph Cardinal Fesch and the liturgical vestments of Lyon – Silk from Lyon during the empire – Uniforms in the Napoleonic era – The Emperor’s wardrobe

Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000

Nunn, Joan
New Amsterdam 2000        Dewey Dec.    391

This history of American and European costume covers men’s, women’s, and children’s dress, accessories and jewelry, fabrics, and color. Discusses how historical, social, economic, and artistic events influence fashion.

Fashion and Costume in American Popular Culture: A Reference Guide

Oliver, Valerie B.
Greenwood 1996        Dewey Dec.    011

Guides to the literature — Encyclopedias — Histories of fashion and costume in the United States — Specific clothing and accessories — Psychological, sociological, and cultural aspects — Dictionaries — Specialized bibliographies — Indexing and abstracting services — Media — Research centers — Costume museums and collections — Professional organizations and related conference proceedings — Periodicals

Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume

Paterek, Josephine
ABC-CLIO 1994        Dewey Dec.    391

Paterek describes “the clothing used for everyday, war, rites, and ceremonies for men, women, and children in hundreds of tribes in diverse climates stretching over centuries. Well-organized text and 400 drawings and authentic photos plus the cultural essays prefacing the 10 regional groupings and each tribe put the costumes in historical, social, and geographic context. Appendixes cover terminology and the materials used in clothing. The excellent bibliographies in this classic work both document and encourage further reading.” -Am Libr

Costume, 1066-1966

Peacock, John
Thames and Hudson 1986        Dewey Dec.    391

“A complete guide to English costume design and history” -Cover

Five Centuries of American Costume

Wilcox, R. Turner
Dover 2004        Dewey Dec.    391

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