Mainland High School
Suitable for a Disaster: ISTF 08-1835
A Brief History of Fabrics
When designing textiles, the type of fibers used is of utmost importance. The characteristics of various types of thread vary from durability to frailty, comfort to discomfort, and versatility to limited ability. It is important to know these characteristics before using or creating cloth.

Despite its ancient beginnings, silk remains one of the most popular fabrics today. A single filament of silk is stronger than a single filament of steel, making it the world’s strongest natural fiber. Its absorbency makes it an excellent natural temperature equalizer. Silk has the ability to retain its basic shape and is comfortable to the wearer. Such characteristics would be valuable additions to our project to add wear-ability and durability. However, the strength of silk fabric may decrease with perspiration or frequent washing due to loss of fibers. Silk is already being implemented in e-textiles as silk organza.

A second fabric with helpful characteristics is wool. This fabric is made of animal hairs, causing different types of wool offer different qualities. In general, wool fibers are most commonly used in winter clothing as it is an excellent insulator. It is extremely absorbent, able to hold up to 30% of its weight in water before feeling damp and durable, resistant to dirt and flame. Such qualities serve for excellent protection against harsh or dangerous environments. Unfortunately, the more durable the wool, the less comfortable it becomes.

Perhaps the most likely candidate among the natural fibers is an inexpensive fabric called ramie. It is used in both heavy clothing (such as sweaters) and industrial goods (such as rope and twine) because of its strength. As well as carrying the basic characteristics of absorbency and durability, it is also repels mold and bacteria. Such a characteristic may be helpful for use in medical fabrics.

Another possible candidate for our project is Cocona® fabric, a new textile developed by Cocona, Inc. in Colorado. As its name suggests, Cocona is made from recycled coconut parts, specifically the shell. Threads are pulled from coconut waste products and heated to 1600 degrees to "activate" the present carbon. The activated carbon is implanted into other fabrics such as cotton or polyester. The addition of Cocona fibers helps the fabric dry faster and provide ultra violet and odor protection. The fabric remains lightweight and comfortable, and requires no special treatment for washing or drying, though particular steps can be taken to extend the garment’s lifespan.

Because no single fabric possesses all of the necessary qualities for any particular textile, fibers of two or more different fabrics are woven together in an attempt to combine good qualities and undermine bad qualities. Weaving is a reliable alternative to chemical treatment as the added fabrics cannot be worn out or washed away. A weave of several fabrics may hold the solution to the durable, comfortable, and versatile fabric needed for our project.

Take a moment and look over our brief history of fabrics to see how clothes have evolved from basic, natural materials to the complex "smart" garments of today's technological world.

100,000 to 500,000 years ago The idea of clothing is estimated to have begun between 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. Clothes consisted of basic animal skins or leaves loosely draped around the body or pieced together with sticks and bones.
15,000 BC People figured out how to sew different pieces of fabric together using needles made of bone or wood to make more fitted clothes.
527 BC In Justinian's time, tunics had replaced the Roman toga. Leggings and hose were popular but rarely seen on the wealthy; they were usually associated with barbarians. Later the Byzantines made glamorous patterned cloth all woven and embroidered for the rich, and had dyes and printed cloth for the lower class.
1300's - 1600's Wool was the preferred cloth and available to a wide range of classes.
1400's Silk weaving was very popular around the Mediterranean; it was principally seen on clothing worn by Italians and wealthy Europeans.
1790 Thomas Saint was issued the first patent for a complete machine for sewing.
1800's Swimsuits started out as heavy clothing to hide one's body while swimming, according to the morality of the times.
1823 Charles Macintosh came up with an idea for the raincoat. He discovered that coal-tar naphtha dissolved India rubber. He took the dissolved rubber preparation, painted it on one side of a wool cloth, and placed another layer of wool cloth on top of original. However, the coat did not respond well in different temperatures since the oil either stiffened or became sticky.
1831 George Opdyke was the first to start the small scale manufacture of ready-made clothing.
1839 Vulcanized rubber was invented by Charles Goodyear and then Macintosh was able to improve the raincoat because it could withstand temperature changes.
1853 During the California gold rush, miners needed durable clothing for the work that they did. Levi Strauss used the fabric now called denim to sew overalls and eventually jeans for the miners.
1800's Clothing sizes were established and the ready-made clothing industry took off. Before clothing sized, you would get your clothes from a local seamstress or tailor who was commissioned to make individual clothes for each person.
1931 The DuPont chemical company started to manufacture neoprene which is a synthetic rubber created by Wallace Carothers, a brilliant chemist, inventor, and scholar. DuPont wanted to create a synthetic fiber that would replace silk. Carothers combined amine, hexamethtlene diamine, and adipic acid to create a new fiber made from a condensation reaction. He then later refined the process by adjusting some equipment to make the water distilled and removed from the process, therefore creating stronger fibers. In 1935, he patented his invention.
1959 Polyurethane was invented by William Hanford and Donald Holmes. It is able to stretch 100% and then snap back together like natural rubber. Later that year, Spandex started being used commercially in the United States.
1955 George de Mestral patents Velcro. His "hook and loop" design has come to rival zippers as a method of fastening clothes and shoes.
1966 Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Louise Kwolek. It is a fabric five times stronger than the same weight of steel. It doesn’t rust or corrode and is very light weight. It is used in bullet-proof vests, underwater cables, space vehicles, and parachutes.
1988 Microfibers, or microdeniers, were invented in Japan by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto at Toray Industries. They are popular because of their durability and their ability to repel moisture.
1988 Everest Textile, founded NanoSilver yarn which is highly toxic to germs but not to human cells. It has passed all safety guidelines for manufacturing clothes. It maintains its effectiveness through 100 washes, and is safe orally. The yarn sticks to a variety of surfaces and can be used to coat medical devices to fight bacterial infections. Using silver to fight and control infections dates all the way back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome. In small amounts, nanoparticles of silver block bacterial grown and remain non-toxic to humans.
1989 Gore-Tex is a trademarked fabric invented by W.L. Gore & Associates. It is engineered to be a breathable water and wind-proof material.
April 2005 Cool Biz came up with the idea for air-conditioned clothing. They made a jacket that keeps people cool even in long sleeves from two small, built-in fans about 10-centimeters in diameter attached to right and left sides of the back of the jacket. The fans draw in a large amount of air and help to vaporize sweat.
Sept 2005 The SFIT cluster brings together seven smart fabric projects that focused on different applications but all have underlying projects including connectivity, wearability, and ensuring the fabric is accepted by users.
Dec 2005 Textronics came out with an idea of a sports bra that would track your heart rate as you work out. They called it the NuMetrix Heart Sensing Sports Bra. Special sensing fibers were knitted directly into the fabric tracking the heart rate and sending it directly to a watch or cardio machine. It was named 2006 Sports Product of the Year.
2008 Speedo launches the next generation of performance swimming suits, the LZR Racer at the Beijing Olympics.
2008 Eleksken touchpads, an Elektex product, integrates with music devices, such as iPods, so that you can control them by "touching" your sleeve. Their programmable textile touchscreen allows data entry and can be used to create a variety of machine interfaces. Inventors - History of Swimsuits Inventors - Levi Strauss Inventors - The History of Clothing Inventors - The Invention of Velcro Inventors - The Textile Revolution Inventors - Wallace Hume Carothers

Big Site of Amazing Facts - How Did People First Sew Clothes?

Cocona Fabrics - Technology

Everest - Master batch & yarn

Everest - Multi-Functional Fiber

Physorg - Nano silver fights infection

Silk Road Fabrics - Silk Organza

Copyright © 2008-2024
Mainland High School ISTF
Volusia County Schools
All rights reserved