The textile industry involves making thread, cloth, clothing, bags, ropes and crafts out of plant fiber, silk, wool, and, to a limited extent, hair. A textile industry is required in the long run to keep your dwarves clothed and happy (as their starting clothing will slowly wear away), and can be a very lucrative option as a wealth industry, especially if the goods are dyed and sewn with images. Common choices for textile trade goods are gloves, mittens, shoes and socks at a clothier's shop because they are made in pairs or cloth crafts at a craftsdwarf's workshop. A textile industry is also important for healthcare because cloth and thread are needed for bandages and suturing respectively, although the necessary materials can normally be acquired via caravans too.
See also the leather industry, which produces similar but generally less valuable goods.
 Basic materials
There are six crops that can be grown for use in the textile industry, two of which can be processed by a thresher at a farmer's workshop into thread (and then into cloth by a weaver at a loom), and four of which can be milled into dye.
The easiest way to feed your fortress is with subsurface farming, and consequentially the easiest way to establish a textile industry is with underground crops. The first of these are pig tails, which can be either brewed or made into thread by a thresher. Pig tails can be grown in the summer and in the autumn. The second are dimple cups, which grow in all seasons and can be milled into blue dimple dye.
Above ground crops are a more varied and, in some cases, valuable commodity. However, they are more difficult to establish, as you must rely on plants gathered on your map or seeds and plants brought in by human and elven caravans. They do have the advantage of growing in all seasons. The counterpart to pig tails underground is rope reed above ground, a widely distributed crop that can similarly be brewed or processed into thread. Blade weed is similarly widely available and can be used to make emerald dye, as is hide root, used to make redroot dye (at half the value of the others). The highest-value and most difficult to acquire dye is sliver barb, a black dye-producing crop that only grows in evil areas; it is never available from caravans or from embark, and must be pulled from the earth itself via plant gathering, often under the risk posed by evil weather.
 Wool and hair
Wool is a textile material obtainable by shearing one of a small number of creatures at a farmer's workshop: sheep, llamas, and alpacas. These animals can be sheared once every few months; as they also produce milk, they are versatile animals that can supplement your textile industry. There is currently a bug that causes only one thread to be created from a stack of wool. Trolls can also be sheared by their master goblins, explaining how many goblin thieves and besiegers come dressed in troll fur items that are fully wearable but cannot be otherwise obtained.
Hair is another textile material that comes from animals, but is only obtained by butchering certain animals such as horses, yaks and grizzly bears, as a byproduct of the meat industry. Hair is the most limited of the weaving materials, as it can only be made into (dyeable) thread, and cannot be made into proper clothing. As such, it is mostly useful as cheap suturing material for dwarven healthcare.
Wool has only half the value of crop based thread. The same goes for hair of the more common and domestic animals, but the increasingly wild and rare animals listed under 'Value#Material_multipliers - animals' have more valuable hair.
Raw silk is harvested from spider webs created by phantom spiders, cave spiders, brown recluse spiders, and giant cave spiders. The first three kinds of spiders are vermin that will leave behind webs in the fortress or forests, which can be collected by the automatic "collect webs" job at a loom. This silk is worth half as much (6☼) as plant based textile. The vermin spiders can bite dwarves and although their bites are non-lethal, the dwarf in question will be very woozy for a while afterwards. Note that cats kill spiders mercilessly, so if you want to use them for textiles, "vermin breeding chambers", or at the very least locking up your cats, are necessary precautions.
Giant cave spiders, on the other hand, are extremely dangerous creatures, as they are the size of grizzly bears, do not feel pain, and can shoot webbing at any helpless dwarf who happens to be nearby. They reside in the caverns, and their webs can only be collected "in the wild" at extreme hazard, requiring significant military escort if you want your dwarf to return alive; it might be a good idea to change standing orders to ignore webs until you can clear out the caverns or otherwise provide an escort.
Giant cave spider silk thread (and what you produce from it) sadly is worth only twice as much (24☼) as easily available pig tail thread (12☼) and this difference pales even more when adding skillful dyeing (a no-quality dye adds 20☼, masterful dyeing adds 240☼ to the value). The high risk of getting at some, combined with its irregularity and the fact that it usually can be acquired by trading, makes one wonder if it is worth it at all.
 Trading and gathering
The raw materials for a textile industry can be acquired via trading, as caravans bring large amounts of cloth and some thread, dye, and finished clothing, and can bring more if you ask. If you have the wealth for it, you can simply buy caravan cloth in bulk and then refine it to your needs. Caravan trading is enough to clothe even the largest fortress in fine clothing, but you shouldn't rely on it for wealth. One can also gather the necessary plants from above ground, but this has a low overall yield, depends heavily on where you embarked, and is unpredictable.
Once you have the basic materials, you are ready to process them into thread. Crops, wool, and hair use two jobs under plant processing at a farmer's workshop: you either rocess the pig tails or rope reed, or pin the wool or hair. Making thread out of silk is done in one step: if there are spider webs on the map, dwarves with the weaving labor enabled will gather the webs and automatically spin them into silk thread. Note, however, that this applies to giant cave spider silk as well, and that collecting it benefits from military protection.
Thread can be dyed, which increases its value as well as the value of anything woven from it (cloth can also be dyed directly, see below). Thread's primary use is for suturing at a hospital, and for decorating finished clothing - otherwise it is an intermediate good that needs to be woven into cloth and, finally, the finished product. For animal hair, though, thread itself is the finished product.
By default, any non-hair thread produced is automatically queued up for weaving at a loom, but this can be changed with standing orders under , and may be necessary in the case of giant cave spider webs. Plant fibers will be queued for weaving into cloth as soon as they are processed at the farmer's workshop. If you prefer to create dyed cloth by dyeing the thread beforehand, you may want to set workshop Orders so that dwarves only weave dyed thread. Cloth can still be dyed after weaving.
 Clothes and cloth goods
Once the thread is sewn into cloth, it can be put to use by a clothier at a clothier's shop to create clothes, the usual end product for the textile industry. Clothing is required for a mature fortress, as clothes will eventually wear away, and necessitate replacement; a highly-skilled clothesmaker is a boon for any fortress.
If you plan to use clothing for trading, you can increase its value by sewing images onto it. Items that are decorated in this manner are considered local for purposes of trade offerings and, depending on the quality of the decoration, can add significant value to an item.
Although clothes are the main good, the clothier's shop can also produce ropes and bags. Both can be made elsewhere, by the metal industry and by the leather industry respectively, but if you have the raw resources, why not here? Ropes are necessary for restraints, traction benches, and wells, and bags are used to store seeds, milling products, and powders (including dye), as well as sand for the glass industry.
Dyeing an object is not necessary in the sense that dwarves do not mind how valuable their clothes are, so long as they have them, but it is an easy way to greatly increase its value if you have a skilled dyer. Both thread and cloth can be dyed, but dyed objects cannot be redyed - the coloration is permanent.
Once you have harvested dye plants (which are described in basic materials, above), you are ready to mill them at a millstone or quern. Note that this requires an empty bag into which the dye will be deposited. Dye can then be applied at a dyer's shop by a dyer. One bag of dye can be used for several dyeing jobs.
 Industry management
Overall, the textile industry consists of eight different jobs: (growing, plant processing, shearing, spinning, weaving, clothes making, milling, and dyeing). The value of the finished product is determined by the quality of three specific steps (as well as the base material): weaving, dyeing, and clothes-making. Obviously, then, the more skilled your weavers, dyers, and clothiers, the better and more valuable your items will be.
If your intent is to produce equal volumes of thread and dye (so that all of your thread can be dyed), then you need to establish a year-round growing cycle with two equally-sized plots above and below ground as follows:
This will give you one cloth crop and one dye crop each harvest. This is not the only way to do it, but it is an example of a growing plan that will keep a miller, a thresher, a dyer, a weaver, and some growers employed evenly year-round and provide high-value materials for any tailors in your fort. If you have access to silk on your map, you may prefer to substitute a food crop for one of the fiber crops, or brew the excess pig tail into dwarven ale.
Large fields, fertilizer, and skilled growers will produce more raw materials; skilled craftsdwarves will use up the materials faster. Choose the largest plot size you can sustainably increase harvests, because eventually your craftsdwarves will be able to go through materials faster than you can grow them and you'll find yourself queueing up new orders each season. To boost profits, set your workshop orders to use only dyed thread, leaving out hide root from your growing plan because of its lower item value, and keep the supply channels full of plant products so that you always have materials to support standing (repeat) work orders.
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|Primary Industries||Wood industry - Stone industry - Farming industry - Alcohol industry - Fuel industry - Fishing industry - Meat industry - Metal industry - Beekeeping industry - Poultry industry - Extract industry|
|Secondary Industries||Armor industry - Weapon Industry - Finished goods industry - Soap Industry - Glass industry - Gem industry - Textile industry - Ceramic industry|
|Tertiary Industries||Military - Health care - Trade|