Some human cultures, such as the various people of the Arctic Circle, traditionally prefer making clothes entirely of prepared and decorated furs and skins. Other cultures supplemented or replaced leather and skins with cloth: woven, knitted, or twined from various animal and vegetable fibers.


1. cotton 2. linen 3. wool


4. cashmere 5. silk 6. leather


7. denim 8. suede 9. lace


10. velvet 11. corduroy 12. nylon
making clothes

making clothes

A. sew by machine 14. sewing machine operator 17. needle 20. feed dog / feed bar
B. sew by hand 15. bolt of fabric 18. needle plate 21. bobbin
13. sewing machine 16. rack 19. presserfoot


22. pattern 25. zipper 28. buckle 31. applique 33. sequins
23. thread 26. snap 29. hook and loop fastener 32. beads 34. fringe
24. button 27. hook and eye 30. ribbon

More vocabulary
fashion designer: a person who makes original clothes
natural materials: cloth made from things that grow in nature
synthetic materials: cloth made by people, such as nylon

Ask your classmates
1. Can you sew?
2. What’s your favorite type of material?
3. How many types of material are you wearing today?


Different cultures have evolved various ways of creating clothes out of cloth. One approach simply involves draping the cloth. Many people wore, and still wear, garments consisting of rectangles of cloth wrapped to fit – for example, the dhoti for men and the sari for women in the Indian subcontinent, the Scottish kilt or the Javanese sarong. The clothes may simply be tied up, as is the case of the first two garments; or pins or belts hold the garments in place, as in the case of the latter two. The precious cloth remains uncut, and people of various sizes or the same person at different sizes can wear the garment.

Another approach involves cutting and sewing the cloth, but using every bit of the cloth rectangle in constructing the clothing. The tailor may cut triangular pieces from one corner of the cloth, and then add them elsewhere as gussets. Traditional European patterns for men’s shirts and women’s chemises take this approach.

Modern European fashion treats cloth much less conservatively, typically cutting in such a way as to leave various odd-shaped cloth remnants. Industrial sewing operations sell these as waste; home sewers may turn them into quilts.