This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Hair Cloth. A fabric woven of the hair of horses' tails, used for sofa coverings, seatings, etc., and for stiffening of ladies' dresses. The hair used in this manufacture (which composes only the weft) is procured from South America and Russia. All the black and gray hair is dyed a deep lustrous black for the making of black hair cloth for covering furniture, while the light is reserved for dyeing the brighter hues, such as green, claret, crimson, etc. According to the length of the hair, so can this cloth be made in widths varying from 14 to 40 inches. The quality, as well as the brilliancy and permanency of the colors depend in a great degree on the nature of the warp, which may be either cotton, linen or worsted. In the manufacture of either plain or damasked cloth, the weaver uses a sort of hooked shuttle which he passes between the threads of the warp toward the left hand; the assistant, or server, places a single hair over the end of the hook, and the weaver draws it through the warp. The placing of the hairs one by one renders this a tedious operation, and one that does not admit of the application of machinery, which is so advantageous where the weft consists of a continuous thread. An imitation of hair cloth is made by the use of hard-twisted and highly gummed and polished cotton threads. [See Sack Cloth]