In 1700s, Textiles Were Wearable Wealth

Published:

Thursday, 4/3/2014 4:37pm

In the 18th century, there was no such thing as “fast fashion” or “disposable clothing.” Fabric was far too valuable. Textiles of all kinds were expensive treasures that were used, re-used and then re-purposed again. In fact, colonists were the ultimate recyclers when it came to fabric and garments.

This year during Sheep-to-Shawl (April 22 and 23), we invite visitors into Philipsburg Manor’s Visitor Center for an interactive experience, Wearable Wealth: The Value of Cloth and Clothing in the 18th Century. The activities and displays in various rooms of the manor help visitors to understand how precious fabric goods were for colonial Americans.

Visitors will have a chance to find answers to questions like:

• What types of fabric were made at home?

• Did colonists shop for clothing?

• What happened to clothing that was no longer in fashion? 

Everyone will have the chance to feel the difference between fabrics made of different fibers, examine advertisements from colonial newspapers for clothing clues, and learn how far indigo, silk and other supplies traveled to reach New York.

Fans of historic textiles will enjoy a selection of rare pieces from the museum collection. Kids can explore African adinkra printing techniques and challenge their parents to a guessing game with historic cloth-related tools.

Before leaving, everyone is encouraged to add a note or drawing of a personal textile treasure to our community clothesline before exploring other activities around the site.

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