Making your own cloth to most seems like an impossibility. Surely we will have to revert to an all leather wardrobe after the SHTF right? Wrong. Making your own clothing material although time consuming is certainly something you can do yourself.
Clothes today are made from both natural and synthetic fibers. Since there will no longer be manufacturing plants putting out synthetic usually petroleum based materials we will have to concentrate on the natural material that our grandparents relied on exclusively.
The natural materials that make up clothing material come from a few very specific plants. Which part of the plant is used to make the clothing material depends on the plant. Sometimes you used the stems and leaves other times you use parts of the seedpod or even sometimes the fruit. There are only five plants that are regularly used to make cloth. Cotton, Flax, Hemp, Jute, and Ramie. Which you use will be determined by what is availably where you live.
Cotton (Gossypium sp.
) is probably most well known clothing material. Cotton is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, the Americas and India but is grown in areas outside of its natural range.
Cotton is a soft plant fiber that grows inside a protective outer covering that covers both the cotton and the seeds. The cotton fibers are there to help disperse the cotton plants seeds.
This cotton fiber is spun into either yarn or thread using spinning wheel and this material is used to make clothing and other items either by knitting yarn or using a weaving loom to make cotton cloth.
Future link to growing cotton and converting cotton into cloth!
Flax aka linseed (Linum usitatissimum
) is a domesticated plant and is not native anywhere but is now very widespread including almost all of North America. The plant is used for both food and fiber. Flax is traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen.
Flax has been known to cause digestive problems with cattle. So be aware of that!
Flax fibers come from the stem of the plant and Flax is actually significantly stronger than cotton though not as elastic. Flax fiber is extracted from beneath the surface of the stem of the plant. Flax bundles of fiber look a lot like blonde hair. Flax is used for anything from sheets to rope.
Growing Flax and converting Flax into cloth
Hemp (Cannabis sativa
) is a great plant for making clothing and yes it is the same plant species that is grown for marijuana. But there are significant differences and variability withing the species. Hemp refers to the use of the stalk and seed for textiles, foods, and paper. Marijuana refers to the medicinal and recreational drug aspects of the plant. The potency of your typical marijuana plant is 10 times that of the typical variety grown for clothing. Just like there are different breeds of dog... there are likewise different varieties of Cannabsi sativa
And guess what? Hemp is easy to grow. It does not take a lot of skill or require the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Growing Hemp and converting Hemp into cloth
Jute is a crop that requires little fertilizer or pesticides but does require warm and very wet and humid conditions. So its usefulness is only for very specific areas of the world.
Production is mainly from India and other wet places such as Vietnam.
Ramie is a plant very similar to the Stinging Nettle of North America but doesn't sting. It is native to wet areas in far east such as Vietnam so it isn't going to be very helpful for the vast majority of people.
Wool is another natural material you can use to make cloth from and it is one of the few natural cloth materials that isn't derived from a plant. Wool comes from sheep. You can raise sheep on your property and they will produce wool that you cut off. You do not have to kill the animal either. Sheep can also provide a dual purpose in that they can provide food as well as clothing.
The biggest drawback is going to be the fact that most people aren't going to start keeping sheep now just in case the SHTF. Seeds you can store on a shelf, sheep, not so much. But we will cover them here because they are raised in a significant portion of the world including North America.
Future link to raising Sheep and converting Fleece into cloth!