October 30 2021 – Diana Aldescu
Hello, hello everyone! Welcome back to our blog. Today we have a full fabric guide of cotton. How exciting! Let’s dive in.
What is cotton
Cotton is the fluffy, soft natural fibre of the cotton plant. It is the most common type of fabric in the world. You might not realise but cotton is with us daily. From the moment you wake up and dry your face with that cotton towel to night time when you slide in your comfy cotton bed sheets. The world uses more cotton than any other fibre!
History of cotton
Cotton is old, like ancient times old. It has been around for as long as people can remember, but no one knows exactly how old cotton is. But, we know that cotton was first grown and used for cloth production in Pakistan 300 years B.C.
In the thirteen century in India, the first cotton gin was invented. Cotton gin is a tool that separates quickly and easily the fluff of cotton from the plant seeds. This tool made the production of cotton fabric much faster and helped cotton fabric spread as a widely-used textile.
It was only around the 1500s that cotton grew in popularity across the entire world. So, powerful countries such as Britain saw this opportunity and took advantage of it. It was in England in the 1730s that new technologies took over cotton production. During the Industrial Revolution, new inventions like spinning frame, spinning jenny and spinning mule quickly became favourites in the fashion production world.
But, the trophy for inventing the ultimate mechanical cotton gin tool goes to Eli Whitney. He was an American inventor who shaped the economy of the United States in 1794 with his new invention. This new tool was able to separate the seed from cotton quickly and efficiently using machine power. This cut down the hours of manual labour needed to produce hundreds of kilograms of cotton. Roughly from 600 hours to 12 hours, how insane!
How is cotton made?
Cotton production has a lot of steps. It is a very involved process starting with planting the cotton seeds to making the fabric itself. Let’s find out how cotton is made:
-The cotton seed has to be planted and it takes about 5 months to grow
-A harvesting machine called a cotton picker, plucks the fluffy seed cotton out of the plant boll. This leaves a trail of sticks behind.
-The picked cotton is then thrown into a tractor-drawn buggy. This machine builds the picked cotton into huge rectangular blocks.
-A truck is then used to transport the blocks of cotton to a processing tool called cotton gin.
-Once the cotton arrives, sticks, burrs and any lingering debris are removed from the cotton.
-The cleaned cotton is then placed in a dispenser where it gets grounded into small pieces.
-These tiny pieces of cotton then get mixed with hot air in a hot box. This allows the moisture to evaporate.
-The cotton fibres move through a machine called steady flow. This machine divides the cotton equally between two processing lines.
-Each line of cotton enters a burr machine. This machine grabs the cotton with a circular saw and swings it against metal bars. This strong force further shakes off any leftover debris.
-The cotton is now ready for the final stage of processing. It goes through the final tool, the gin stand. This machine has 116 circular saws for each stand and they are arranged horizontally. The saw teeth grab the seed cotton, separating it from the fluffy stuff of cotton called the lint.
-The cotton lint is now ready to be woven into fabric.
Different types of cotton
This might come as a surprise, but there is more than one type of cotton. There are four types of cotton grown commercially worldwide! Let’s find what they are:
Gossypium Hirsutum: God, that is hard to read! About 90% of the world’s cotton production consists of this type. This specific type of cotton is also known as upland cotton or Mexican cotton. It is made up of very short natural cotton fibres. It is the most wanted type of cotton because of its quality and purity in an all-natural fibre. It is widely used in a variety of consumer products. Some of these are feminine hygiene products and baby care products.
Gossypium Barbadense: This is the second-most produced type of cotton, about 8% of the world’s cotton output. It is mainly used for fabric production as it consists of extra-long-staple-cotton. It is very soft and quite strong. This type of cotton is native to South America.
Gossypium Arboretum: This comes to about 2% of the world’s cotton output. It is commonly known as cotton tree and is located in India and Pakistan. It is widely used in societies that are huge fans of the fabric muslin. This is a plain wave that offers huge breathability and can maintain its form over time. This fabric’s durability can be linked to the strength of the tree cotton fibres from which it’s made.
Gossypium Herbaceum: This comes to less than 1-2% of the world’s cotton output. It is native to southern African and the Arabian Peninsula. This type of cotton is primarily used to make some fabrics. Interestingly, it is also used in the medical world. It is used for a wide range of medicines, including treatment for headaches, fever and nausea.
Properties of cotton
Cotton is a cool fabric with many characteristics. It is the most commonly used fabric for a reason!
Softness: The cotton plant is so fluffy, resulting in a super soft fabric! Sweaters made from cotton tend to be amazingly cosy.
Durability: As a plant, cotton has a strong cellular structure. So, products made from cotton tend to be tough and resistant.
Moisture control: Cotton is a naturally absorbent material. It won’t show sweat patches and will keep you naturally dry.
No bad odours: Your clothes tend to soak in different odours throughout the day. But, with cotton, you do not have to worry about this. It naturally releases substances easily.
Hypoallergenic: Cotton is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
No cling: Static cling might be one of the most annoying things out there. But cotton is not clingy! Cotton fabric cannot hold an electric charge.
Versatility: Cotton can be used in so many ways. Workwear, athletic wear and evening wear, cotton can be used in any type of clothing.
Different uses of cotton
With cotton being so popular, of course, it has many uses across several different industries.
Clothing: Some of the most common fabrics come from cotton fibres. Cotton can be woven or knitted into denim, corduroy, flannel, velvet and many others.
Babycare & feminine care: This might come as a surprise but cotton products are great in other industries, too. Cotton is naturally soft and hypoallergenic, perfect for your skin!
Daily basis: Cotton can be found in your everyday coffee filters, paper, bookbinding, etc.
Skincare: Cottonseed oil is made from crushed seeds of the cotton plant. This oil is used in making soap and cosmetic products.
Great food for animals: Cotton fibres are often used to feed horses as a healthy source of protein. Animals have a special enzyme that can break down the cotton fibre when consumed.
Pharmaceutical: Crazy, but cotton linters are used in x-rays, swabs, cotton buds and even some medicines!
Home: Cotton linters are used in making furniture, mattresses, curtains, rugs and pillows! Basically, your entire bedroom.
How to take care of cotton?
Cotton can be machine-washed or dry cleaned, but keep in mind there are different types of cotton. So, to be safe you should always refer to the care label for your cotton item before washing it.
But, here are some tips we found to be useful:
-You should always wash similar colours together to prevent any bleeding. The last thing you want is your lovely white shirt to become pinkish. Oops!
-If you have an annoying stain, bleach can be used. But, be very careful with it!
-Cotton can be hung dry or tumble dried depending on your convenience. But, keep in mind cotton wrinkles easily. It is best to always line dry and remove your item from the dryer quickly.
If you are thinking of ironing your cotton items, go ahead. Cotton is prone to creasing so you might need to iron it often. But, remember to always refer to your garment’s care instructions and follow the right iron temperature.
Interested in cotton clothing?
At blonde gone rogue, we are a huge fan of cotton clothing. In fact, our organic cotton clothing range is one of our most popular ranges that we sell.
From organic cotton t shirts, to cotton trousers, all the way to cotton jeans and cotton skirts; we're sure we have the perfect fit for what you're looking for
That’s a wrap everyone! We hope you enjoyed our guide to your lovely cotton garments. If you have a burning question, we are always here for you at firstname.lastname@example.org!