Friday, July 02, 2004

Colonists imported fine fabrics to emulate European fashion

"The fabrics used in America between 1640--1780 were simple and plain; colonists were largely unskilled in fabric making, so textiles were primarily imported. By 1656, Americans were recognizing that their lack of skowledge was making them all-too reliant on England; they began to desperately try to import textile makers from Europe.

In 1766 (in Providence, Rhode Island), the "Daughters of Liberty" was formed by a group of upper-middle class young women. They spent their days spinning to free America from its reliance on Europe for textiles--which actually did help the colonists when the Revolutionary war was launched. Many colonists found it economically necessary to create their own basic fabrics and clothing, anyway; but the finer cloths--the brocades and damasks, for example--were purchased from Europe.

Colonists with lingering European taste insisted upon British wools, in particular. American sheep were coarse wool types, and couldn't produce the more fine, soft wools of English sheep. Yet, in the 1630s, the colonial legislative body passed several laws forbidding the purchase or wearing of such fine fabrics--because, they said, colonists were becoming far too worldly.

Although widely available in colonial America, COTTON was not expertly created by the colonists; it was very coarse when made in the colonies. American SILKS were generally of poor quality, also. Most cotton was imported from England (and originated in India), and heavy silks from England and France were bought in small quantities.

Post a Comment