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Textile industry

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This article is about the current version of DF.
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Textile industry flowchart.

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]


Main article: Crops

There are twelve crops that can be grown for use in the textile industry, eight 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 used to be rope reed, but six new crops have been added since: kenaf, cotton, ramie, flax, hemp and jute. Flax and hemp, in addition to being processable, can also be milled into flour, making them a good choice for food production, moreover, hemp and rope reeds are the only plants usable to make thread that are found outside tropical biomes. Rope reeds, like pig tails, can be brewed into drinks. 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 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. Sliver barb is also the only dye plant that has another use (brewing).

For easy reference, the plants are listed below:

Thread Plants
Plant Type Grows Biome Season Other uses
Wet Dry Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Pig tail Underground X X Subterranean water X X alcohol
Rope reed Above ground X Not Freezing X X X X alcohol
Flax Above ground X Grassland, Savanna X X X X flour, oil
Jute Above ground X Tropical X X X X none
Hemp Above ground X Temperate X X X X flour, oil
Cotton Above ground X Tropical X X X X oil
Ramie Above ground X Tropical X X X X none
Kenaf Above ground X Tropical X X X X oil
Dye Plants
Plant Dye Colour Type Grows Biome Season Special
Wet Dry Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Dimple cup Dimple Dye Midnight Blue     Underground X X Subterranean water X X X X grows slowly
Blade weed Emerald Dye Emerald     Above ground X Not Freezing X X X X (baseline)
Hide root Redroot Dye Red     Above ground X Not Freezing X X X X low value
Sliver barb Sliver Dye Black     Above ground X Evil, Not Freezing X X X X brewable

(*) "Wet" and "Dry" determine where plants are found in proximity to watercourses when gathering wild plants, and do not affect farm plots.

Wool and hair[edit]

Wool is a textile material obtainable by shearing one of a small number of creatures at a farmer's workshop: troll, sheep, llamas, and alpacas. These animals can be sheared once every 300 days; as they also produce milk, they are versatile animals that can supplement your textile industry. Trolls can also be sheared by their goblin masters, explaining how many goblin thieves and besiegers come dressed in troll fur items that are fully wearable. The only way to acquire troll fur is to steal it from a goblin site during a raid.

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. A bookbinder can also use animal hair thread with a written-on quire and a book binding to create a book. Like with suturing, it's best to temporarily forbid all other threads from the stocks menu if you want to force your dwarves to use these "useless" threads – otherwise, Urist McBinder will gladly grab your masterfully dyed giant cave spider silk thread instead.

Wool has only half the value of plant-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 one of two jobs under plant processing at a farmer's workshop: you either process the plants, 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. Every item of thread woven produces one item of cloth. 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 woven 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. Each Clothier job consumes one whole unit of cloth, regardless of size. 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 it 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, rollers, 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.


To create differently sized clothes, request the clothes to be made from their respective workshops as usual. Afterwards, go back to the main workshop menu and look at the details of the issued job. filter for the race you want to make clothing for and press enter twice.


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.


See also: Value

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:

Cloth Item Value
item cloth thread cloth/thread dye embroidery embroidery dye
Summed Elements (type * material * quality) (decoration * material * quality) (decoration * material) (powder * material * quality) (decoration * material * quality) (powder * material * quality)
Values Type: Inherent value of item;Material: Material value of cloth used to make the item; Quality: 1-5,12,or 120 (for artifacts), influenced by the clothier skill of the item maker Decoration: 10; Material: Material value of cloth used to make the item; Quality: 1-5 or 12, influenced by the weaver skill of the cloth maker Decoration: 10; Material: Material value of thread used to make the cloth Powder: 1; Material: Milled value of plant used to make dye; Quality: 1-5 or 12, influenced by the dyer skill of the dye maker Decoration: 10, Material: Material value of cloth used for embroidery, ignoring cloth quality; Quality: 1-5,12,or 120 (for artifacts), influenced by the clothier skill of the embroiderer Powder: 1; Material: Milled value of plant used to make dye; Quality: 1-5 or 12, influenced by the dyer skill of the dye maker

Note that thread does not have a quality modifier, and the quality of cloth used in an embroidered design is ignored. The formula can be simplified (to use fewer terms) as:

item_material * (item_type * item_quality + 10 * item_cloth_quality + 10) + item_dye_material * item_dye_quality + 10 * embroidery_material * embroidery_quality + embroidery_dye_material * embroidery_dye_quality

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 dye on embroidery for now - it's checked below):

(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

Embroidering an item will almost always generate less value than making clothes, since an embroidered image has a somewhat low value compared to the most valuable clothes (notably robes and cloaks) and the value granted by cloth quality is discarded when embroidering. Low-quality images created with high-quality cloth are even worth less than the roll of cloth used.

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/sliver/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.

Beekeeping · Farming · Fishing · Gathering · Meat · Poultry · Stone · Wood
Alcohol · Armor · Arms · Ceramic · Extract · Finished goods · Fuel · Furniture · Gem · Glass · Metal · Paper · Soap · Textile