History of Sewing Thread

A thread is a small twist of considerable length made from wool, silk, cotton or yarn or any fibrous substance, with a cut in the cross section and is used to stitch and sew fabric and other objects.

Thread has always been an important component of stitching ever since man discovered the need of clothing for protection. Early sewing threads were made out of animal hides by cutting them into thin strips. These were then used to stitch fur and hide together. Many tribes even knew which local plant and tree gave the best thread.

Civilization advancements brought refinements in the threads. Egyptians were skilled in making thread from plant fibers and using wool and hair from domestic animals in spinning. They along with the Phoenicians pioneered the dyeing industry by devising techniques of making dye from berries and other plant materials.

At that time threads were handspun using spindles. These spindles were highly strenuous to use and for producing 20 gms of thread, the spindle had to be rotated more than 500 times.

In spite of being hard to use the spindle is still being used in many parts of the world. Of course, it does have its own improvements from the original ones used centuries back.

It was during the same time that cotton was also started to be used. It is claimed that Cleopatra wore the finest cotton grown in the Egyptian Nile valley. Scientists in Mexico have found cotton pieces that were at least 7000 years old.

Cotton was first spun by machinery in England in 1730 and from then on it spread like a wild fire across the world, thanks to the British Colonies.

Embroidery was invented around 1600 BC to 1100 BC by the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Later on this spread across Egypt and Persia where the Pharaohs robes became an exemplary example of embroidery.

In 350 BC the Chinese devised the technique of making silk threads from silk worm cocoons.  The queen of Emperor Hoang Ti was successful in spinning noble shiny silk threads out of the silk cocoon. She kept the secret with her for a very long time but in the 5th Century AD two monks were able to take the secret outside China to Rome. From there it spread across the world.

Artificial silk came into this world in 1884 when Earl Hilaire de Chardonnet succeeded in producing it from solute cellulose for the first time. The first industrial artificial silk was produced in 1891. The term “Artificial Silk” was renamed as “Rayon” in 1924.

Yarns and fabric from viscose art silk came in 1894. In 1913 German Chemists manufactured textile fibres from Vinyl Chloride. In 1931Heinrich Papst, Hermann Hecht and Emil Hubert spun the first synthetic textile fibre from of polyvinylchloride. This development was marked as the year of birth of chemical fibres.

Polyester fibres were invented by British chemists J. R. Whinfield and J.T. Dickson in 1941. But the actual production under license of Polyester threads started in 1955. These synthetic threads had superior technical properties in than silk threads and in the 1970s synthetic threads became more popular in comparison to silk threads. Further,  Silk was also costlier than synthetic fibres.

Silk, in today’s world has become more of a luxury and is used widely in high quality clothing.

Various developments in the thread industry has given a wide variety of choices along with superior quality.

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