Portal:Clothing
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Portal:Clothing

Introduction

Clothing in history, showing (from top) Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, and 13th through 15th century Europeans.

Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel and attire) is a collective term for items worn on the body. Clothing is typically made of fabrics or textiles but over time has included garments made from animal skin or other thin sheets of materials put together. The wearing of clothing is mostly restricted to human beings and is a feature of all human societies. The amount and type of clothing worn depends on gender, body type, social, and geographic considerations.

Clothing serves many purposes: it can serve as protection from the elements, rough surfaces, rash-causing plants, insect bites, splinters, thorns and prickles by providing a barrier between the skin and the environment. Clothes can insulate against cold or hot conditions, and they can provide a hygienic barrier, keeping infectious and toxic materials away from the body. Clothing also provides protection from ultraviolet radiation.

Selected image

Mrs. Bill Stagg of Pie Town, New Mexico with quilt
Credit: Lee Russell

Quilting is a sewing method done either by hand, by sewing machine, or by Longarm quilting system. The process uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material together to make a quilt. Typical quilting is done with three layers, the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material.

Selected biography

William Morris
William Morris (24 March 1834 - 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Born at Walthamstow near London, Morris was educated at Oxford University, where he met his life-long friend and collaborator, the artist Edward Burne-Jones. In 1856, Morris became an apprentice to Gothic revival architect G. E. Street. That same year he founded the "Oxford and Cambridge Magazine", an outlet for his poetry and a forum for development of his theories of hand-craftsmanship in the decorative arts. In 1861, Morris founded a design firm in partnership with Burne-Jones, the architect Philip Webb and the poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti which had a profound impact on the decoration of churches and houses into the early 20th century. Morris's chief contribution was as a designer of repeating patterns for wallpapers and textiles, many based on a close observation of nature. Morris was also responsible for the resurgence of traditional textile arts and methods of production.

Did you know...

Mechlin lace

  • ... that one of the major differences between Mechlin (pictured) and Valenciennes lace is the cordonnet, a loosely spun silk cord used to outline and define the pattern?
  • ... that astronauts have a patch of velcro inside their helmets that acts as a nose scratcher and that the manufacturing process used to create silent velcro for the U.S. Army is a military secret?
  • ... that Brussels lace is made in pieces, with the design made separate from the ground, unlike Mechlin lace or Valenciennes lace, and is known for its delicacy and beauty?

Selected article

Silk worm cocoon
The history of silk begins, according to Chinese tradition, in the 27th century BC, and its use was confined to China until the Silk Road opened at some point during the latter half of the first millennium BC. China maintained its virtual monopoly over silk for another thousand years. Not confined to clothing, silk was also used for a number of other applications, including writing, and the colour of silk worn was an important indicator of social class during the Tang dynasty. Silk cultivation spread to Japan in around 300 AD, and by 522, the Byzantines managed to obtain silkworm eggs and were able to begin silkworm cultivation. The crusades brought silk production to Western Europe, in particular to many Italian states, which saw an economic boom exporting silk to the rest of Europe. Changes in manufacturing techniques also began to take place during the Middle Ages, with devices such as the spinning wheel first appearing. The Industrial Revolution changed much of Europe's silk industry. Due to innovations in spinning cotton, it became much cheaper to manufacture and therefore caused more expensive silk production to become less mainstream. An epidemic of several silkworm diseases caused production to fall, especially in France, where the industry never recovered. In the 20th century, Japan and China regained their earlier role in silk production, and China is now once again the world's largest producer of silk. The rise of new fabrics such as nylon reduced the prevalence of silk throughout the world, and silk is now once again a somewhat rare luxury good, much less important than in its heyday.

Selected quote

Charles Dickens
"Is that his child?" said Madame Defarge, stopping in her work for the first time, and pointing her knitting-needle at little Lucie as if it were the finger of Fate.

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