Monday, 28 May 2012

100 Hours to Make a Tea Towel

I found this YouTube video by accident. I think the video has been made by a visitor to the Colonial Williamsburg Museum rather than by the museum itself. It is fairly long but there are some fascinating gems if you listen carefully. 

I am always interested in how long it took people in the past to spin yarn and produce cloth. I often wonder if they were much faster than me because they spent more time at the crafts or if my working estimate of 7 hours to card and spin 100g of wool is about what it would have taken years ago. 

The lady in this video estimates it took 40 hours to pick the cotton seeds from enough cotton for a tea towel. The total time she gives for sorting the cotton, spinning and weaving the tea towel is 100 hours. Just think how long it would take to make one complete set of clothing! Next time a project seems to be taking a long time I'll remember this.

You can read more at the Colonial Williamsburg website.


  1. That's really interesting - I think it also makes you realise just how important clothes would be when they required such an investment of time (let alone money). Think just how long it would take it manufacture enough fabric to fill a modern wardrobe, let alone all the bed linen etc...


  2. No buying a top for a fiver and throwing it away after a week in those days!

  3. I garage sale because the vintage finds are much better made than now. Think how well made they were 200 years ago.

    If you value good materials and good equipment, then we can be more creative in our making with less time spent on caretaking, housekeeping, & farming.