Revolution and Cotton
When ordering some plain cotton recently, I was rather curios about the name “Home Spun” next to some types of cotton. A quick google search took me to a fabulous story of subversion and revolution!
In 1767 Colonial America, the Quakers started the homespun movement to encourage people to buy fabrics made in America and avoid the heavy taxes payable to the British government of the time. It was very much the start of unrest that led to the American Revolution in 1776.
As early as the 1600s, colonist had begun the process to spin their own yarns with which to weave their own fabrics. Homespun became the definition of any textiles produced domestically rather that in an industrial setting. The British discouraged colonists from producing their own wool, going as far as creating an act of Parliament stopping the American colonists from exporting any wool, yarn or wool cloth. It became a deliciously subversive as it came to symbolise the boycotts that the colonies imposed on British goods. During the revolution, wearing “clothes of your own make and spinning” was a peaceful way to support the fight for independence.
India in the 1920s also created its own Homespun Movement as British rulers took the cotton from India, processed it in mills and sold it back to India at a much-inflated price. Gandhi was the leader of this simple movement that argued that India needed to be self-sufficient rather than rely on the British trade. He led by example and made all his own clothing, carrying a portable spinning wheel with him so he could continue to make his own cloth as he travelled.
I’m currently ordering more and stocking homespun cotton in my online shop. If you like the idea of crafting with subversive cotton, check out www.sewinspiredfabrics.co.uk