welcome page || projects || work by Young Embroiderers || info ||

TexAsk Tex

Question: Who invented the power loom?

In 1733 James (or John) Kay invented the Flying Shuttle, which made weaving very much faster. It was still a hand process, not an automated one, but the weaver could work more quickly and the cloth could be much wider. The later invention of powered looms was made possible by the invention of the flying shuttle.

In 1764 James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny (named after his wife), a spinning machine that could work fast enough to keep up with the improved looms.

This was followed by a water-powered spinning machine, invented by James Arkwright; and a machine called the Spinning Mule, which could spin many threads at the same time. The Mule was invented by Samuel Crompton. These inventions meant that factory-made yarn became plentiful, and the numbers of handloom weavers increased greatly to keep up with the increased production of yarn.

The first steam-powered weaving machine was invented by Edmund Cartwright in 1787. It only became commonly used from the 1820s onwards, after the basic design was improved by Radcliffe in 1804 and Horrocks in 1806.

To find out more, visit:

Lots of people have asked about pictures - I've seen a historical picture of the flying shuttle in use, and one of Watts' rotary steam engine at a great site that has loads of information about the development of the the textile industry - the Spartacus Internet Encyclopaedia of British History 1700-1950

What other questions have been asked?


Embroiderers' Guild | Embroidery | STITCH with the Embroiderers' Guild