Rolls leaving the factory, 2014
Rolls leaving the factory, 2014
Rolls on retail sale, 2019
Rolls on retail sale, 2019
Specialty cloth; velvet, cloth with sparkles, etc.
Specialty cloth; velvet, cloth with sparkles, etc.

A bolt is a piece of cloth woven on a loom or created by a knitting machine,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] as it is processed, stored and/or marketed. Consequently, its dimensions are highly variable – flexible and dependent upon the manufacturing, machinery, quantity, size, thickness and quality of the product.[8] It is a unit used in manufacturing, transport and inventory.[9] It is also used as a descriptor for wallpaper, which uses different fabrication machinery.[A] Being encompassing, it is by its nature a generic and ambiguous term of convenience and context, used to describe fabric and wallpaper.[10][11]

In modern production

Textile manufacturing is about converting fiber into yarn, yarn into fabric, and finally, the fabric into clothing and other useful products. At every stage, production activity is managed by unique batches. When it comes to fabric, a set of bolts or rolls forms a batch,[12] representing the production.[13]


The yarn is processed by knitting or weaving, which turns the yarn into cloth. The machine used for weaving is the loom. and knitting is another method of cloth manufacturing.

Bolts[B]are the rolls of cloth manufactured by a loom or knitting machine, which moves through subsequent processes of textile finishing.


Looms are equipped with devices that can measure the length of the bolt during manufacturing on the machine itself.[17]

Packing and Trading

Cloth merchant were marking the end of bolts with notations.[18] This practice is continued in the industry to avoid mixing.

Garment manufacturing

After fabric inspection, the bolts are layered manually or fabric spreading machines for relaxing and cutting with patterns.[19][20]

For more information, see Pattern; Ready-made garment


The length of a bolt varied according to the type of material measured.[21][8] The length is usually either 40 or 100 yards (37 or 91 m), but varies depending on the fabric being referred to; for example, a bolt of canvas is traditionally 39 yards (36 m).

The width of a bolt is usually 45 or 60 inches (1,100 or 1,500 mm),[22] but widths may include 35–36 inches (890–910 mm), 39 inches (990 mm), 41 inches (1,000 mm), 44–45 inches (1,100–1,100 mm), 50 inches (1,300 mm), 52–54 inches (1,300–1,400 mm), 58–60 inches (1,500–1,500 mm) and 66 inches (1,700 mm), 72 inches (1,800 mm), 96 inches (2,400 mm), and 108 inches (2,700 mm). For more on breadths of bolts, see narrow cloth.

The word has been long-lived. For example, Herman Melville, “All Astir”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition wrote: "Not only were the old sails being mended, but new sails were coming on board, and bolts of canvas, and coils of rigging; in short, everything betokened that the ship's preparations were hurrying to a close."[23] It is also the standard linear measurement of canvas for use at sea: 39 yards (36 m).[24]

See also



  1. ^ Wallpaper is not necessarily fabric. It uses different fabrication machinery.[10] Wallpaper is packaged in single, double or triple bolts or rolls. Lengths and widths vary depending on the manufacturer and product. There are two competing systems: American and Euro (Metric). The former contains about 25% more than the latter. Each bolt contains a label that indicates the dye lot, pattern number or run number.[10]
  2. ^ Encarta opines that in textiles, it means "a rolled length of woven goods or wallpaper."[14] Bolt has been defined as “A bolt of cloth is a long wide piece of it that is wound into a roll round a piece of cardboard.”[15] Bolt “in the sense of bale” is a noun. E.g., “bolts of black silk” with synonyms that include: amount, bale, packet, quantity, reel, and roll.[16] The foregoing list only scratches the surface of synonyms for Bolt as it relates to fabrics.[9]


  1. ^ Tortora, Johnson & Merkel 2013, p. 206.
  2. ^ Stern 1937, p. 20.
  3. ^ Ray 2012, p. 81.
  4. ^ Wong 2017, p. 3.
  5. ^ Ahmad et al. 2017, p. 214.
  6. ^ Sarkar, p. 160.
  7. ^ Diagram Group 2008, p. 361.
  8. ^ a b "How Many Yards On a Bolt of Fabric? (Fabric Bolt Dimensions)". 21 September 2020. Retrieved December 23, 2020. Typically, a bolt of fabric contains anywhere between 30 and 100 yards of fabric. However, a lot also depends on the type [and thickness] of fabric in question. For example, a bolt of the canvas is generally 39 yards. Widths may include: 35–36 inches (890–910 mm) [up to] ... 108 inches (2,700 mm)
  9. ^ a b Bolt. University of Glasgow’s Historical Thesaurus of English (2nd ed.). University of Glasgow. 22 October 2009. ISBN 978-0199208999. OCLC 18409912.
  10. ^ a b c Nielson 2007, p. 174.
  11. ^ Bolt Merriam Webster Dictionary.
  12. ^ Rutnagur, Sorabji M. (2005). The Indian Textile Journal. Business Press. p. 96.
  13. ^ batch production is used in the textiles and clothing industry for producing fixed quantities of identical products, either for stock or order. For example, a designer-maker might make a batch. Textiles Technology Lesley Cresswell · 2004 [1]
  14. ^ Encarta World English Dictionary. New York, New York USA: St. Martin's Press. 1999. p. 197.
  15. ^ Bolt. Collins Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged (11th ed.).
  16. ^ Bolt. Collins Thesaurus.
  17. ^ Gubin, V. V.; Makarov, A. A. (2012-05-01). "Device for measuring the length of a bolt of cloth woven on a loom". Fibre Chemistry. 44 (1): 59–60. doi:10.1007/s10692-012-9398-4. ISSN 1573-8493. S2CID 135637049.
  18. ^ Zhao, Gang (1977). The Development of Cotton Textile Production in China. East Asian Research Center, Harvard University. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-674-20021-0.
  19. ^ Large bolts of fabric are loaded on a moveable frame called a spreader . ... can create problems during spreading and must be left to relax overnight to assure accurate pattern size after cutting . Manufacturing Technology John R. Lindbeck, Molly W. Williams, Robert M. Wygant · 1990 Page 219
  20. ^ Albrecht, Wilhelm; Fuchs, Hilmar; Kittelmann, Walter (2006-03-06). Nonwoven Fabrics: Raw Materials, Manufacture, Applications, Characteristics, Testing Processes. John Wiley & Sons. p. 471. ISBN 978-3-527-60531-6.
  21. ^ Rowlett & University of North Carolina 2001, p. [2].
  22. ^ "How Wide Is a Bolt of Fabric?". Archived from the original on 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  23. ^ "Herman Melville, “All Astir”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: (Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 106.
  24. ^ 24 March 1774 , Stamford Mercury - "Mr. Cole, Basket-maker...has lost near 300 boults of rods" (subscription required)


Further reading