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v0.34:Textile industry

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This article is about an older version of DF.

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 one way to keep your dwarves clothed and happy (their starting clothing will slowly wear away, and high-value replacements boost happiness), and can be a very lucrative option as a wealth industry, especially if the goods are high quality. The best choice for textile trade goods are dresses and robes because they have the highest base value. A textile industry is also important for healthcare: 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 can provide an alternative source of clothing.

Basic materials[edit]


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[edit]

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 quite limited; it can only be made into (dyeable) thread, and cannot be made into proper cloth or 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) is worth only twice as much (24☼) as easily available pig tail thread (12☼). For low-quality production, skillful dyeing adds more value than a better material (a no-quality dye adds 20☼, masterful dyeing adds 240☼ to the value). Note, however that the material multiplier is incorporated into the thread, cloth, and finished good values; the actual difference in final value for a masterful robe is up to 1052☼. This makes giant cave spider silk farming a lucrative project once your textile industry matures.

Trading and gathering[edit]

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 adequate 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 process the pig tails or rope reed, or Spin 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 o, 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[edit]

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.

Even worn clothing can still fetch a hefty price--1/2 to 3/4 its original value--and your dwarves will make sure there is an abundant supply. A high-quality textile industry provides sufficient value to purchase the entire caravan using only cast-off clothing.

If you plan to use clothing for trading, you can moderately 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, an image can add significant value to an item. Note, however, that is generally more profitable to create a second piece of clothing than to decorate an existing one.

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.

Cloth can also be used to make cloth crafts at a craftsdwarf's workshop, which is a valuable but rarely needed trade good.


Dyeing an object is not necessary in the sense that dwarves do not demand colorful clothes, 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. Each plant that is processed into dye creates 1 unit of dye, which is enough to dye 1 unit of thread or cloth. A single bag will hold the entire "stack" of dye, regardless of how big the stack of plants was.

Dye can then be applied at a dyer's shop by a dyer.


Clothes and cloth goods can have many modifiers, so it can be difficult to determine exactly how to produce the most valuable goods. Despite their complexity, cloth goods follow many of the same rules for item value calculations as other goods. Notably, the cloth, thread, and embroidery are calculated like decorations, while dyes are just added directly. The specific formula for a cloth item's value is as follows:

item cloth thread
(item type * material * item quality) + (decoration * material * cloth_quality) + (decoration * material)

For dyed items, add

(powder * dye_material * dye_quality)

For embroidered items, add

(decoration * embroider_material * embroider_quality) + (powder * dye_material * dye_quality)

(The quality of the embroidered cloth has no effect on the value.)

The formula is quite complicated, so use this example.

This is an exceptional pig tail fiber cloak. It is made from pig tail fiber cloth. The thread is midnight blue, superbly colored with dimple dye. On the item is an exceptionally designed image of waves in rope reed fiber by Urist McClothier. It is made from well-crafted rope reed fiber cloth. The thread is emerald exceptionally colored with emerald dye.

First, the item value:

(item type * material * item quality)

(cloak * pig tail * exceptional)

((26 * 2 * 5)

= 260

Next, add the cloth quality of the item (ignore cloth quality on embroidery):

(decoration * material * cloth_quality)

(decoration * pig tail * normal)

(10 * 2 * 1)

= 20

Next, add the thread value of the item (ignore any embroidered thread):

(decoration * material)

(decoration * pig tail)

(10 * 2)

= 20

Then the item's dye value is added (ignore any dyed embroidery):

(powder * dye_material * dye_quality)

(powder * dimple dye * superb)

(1 * 20 * 4)

= 80

Lastly, the embroidery:

(decoration * embroider_material * embroider_quality) + (powder * dye_material * dye_quality)

(decoration * rope reed * exceptional) + (powder * emerald dye * exceptional)

(10 * 2 * 5) + (1 * 20 * 5)

= 200

So the total value of this item would be:

260 + 20 + 20 + 80 + 200

= 580

Theoretically, the most valuable non-artifact/non-adamantine clothing item is worth 3064. It would be a masterful giant cave spider silk robe, made from masterful giant cave spider silk cloth masterfully dyed with dimple/silver/emerald dye. It would be worth 2344: ((33 * 4 * 12) + (10 * 4 * 12) + (10 * 4) + (1 * 20 * 12). The embroidery would be masterfully designed using masterfully-dyed giant cave spider silk cloth, adding 720: (10 * 4 * 12) + (1 * 20 * 12). Note, however, that the second piece of cloth would have likely been worth more as a second robe than as a decoration on the first.

Industry management[edit]

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:

Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Underground Dimple cup Pig tail Pig tail Dimple cup
Above ground Rope reed Sliver barb Blade weed Rope reed

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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