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Cotton Fibre, What Is Cotton

Cotton
Cotton, The Most Popular and Most Useful Fabric in the World
Cotton Fabric, Characteristics And Uses
Cotton fiber is amazingly versatile, whether alone or blended, it outsells all other fibers combined. It’s the leading American cash crop, and consumers know that fabrics made from cotton put forth natural comfort, visual appeal, durability and value. One bale of cotton fiber produces 215 pairs of jeans, 249 bed sheets, 409 sport shirts or 313,600 one-hundred-dollar bills.

What is Cotton
Cotton is a natural fiber that comes from the seedpod of the cotton plant and is used to make many fabric types at every price point. The fiber is hollow in the center and, under the microscope, resembles a twisted ribbon. Cotton fiber has been cultivated for 7,000 years, and it seems to increase in popularity as modern technology blends it with other fibers and gives it special performance finishes. Cotton can be knit or woven into cloth. The two most common weaves for cotton are the plain and twill weave. A plain weave produces fabrics like gingham, percale, chambray and broadcloth. A twill weave is more durable and is found in denim, khaki and gabardine. Satin weave is less common with cotton fibers because it’s a little dressier, but it is found in high-sheen cottons like sateen.

Cotton Ball
Fabric Characteristics
Cotton fabric is popular because it’s easy to care for and comfortable year-round. In hot, humid weather, cotton “breathes.” As the body perspires, cotton fibers absorb the moisture and release it on the surface of the fabric, so it evaporates. In cold weather, if the fabric remains dry, the fibers retain body heat, especially napped fabrics. Cotton is easy to clean; it can be laundered or dry-cleaned. It withstands high water temperatures, so it can be boiled and thus sterilized. It does wrinkle easily and is prone to shrinkage; however, blending cotton with other fibers and permanent fabric finishes reduces wrinkles and shrinkage. Functional finishes, such as durable press and mildew, flame- and stain-resistance, have added to cotton’s appeal. Even with shrinkage control, most cotton fabrics shrink during the first wash, so it’s imperative to prewash them before sewing. When polyester is added to cotton, it doesn’t breathe well and tends to pill, so many consumers prefer the comfort of 100% cotton.
Cotton Harvesting
Cotton
• Absorbs up to 27 times its own weight in water,
• Has a comfortable, soft hand,
• Is easy to launder,
• Takes dye easily, good color retention,
• Is durable and strong,
• Conducts heat well,
• Resists abrasion,
• Resists pilling and moths,
• Has little resiliency; prone to wrinkling,
• Weakens from extended exposure to sunlight,
• Is easy to handle and sew.

Selecting Fabric
A pure, 100%-cotton fabric is the best fabric for beginning sewers; it’s easy to cut and to sew. Almost every type of fabric available can be made with cotton fibers. The challenge is selecting the right fabric for the project. Lightweight cottons are best for shirts and dresses; medium-weight fabrics are suitable for pants, skirts, shirts, dresses, curtains, sheets and children’s clothes; heavier fabrics are used for pants, outerwear, window treatments and work clothes. Purchase the highest quality cotton you can afford. Look for closely woven fabric with long, 1/2" fibers and even yarns. Scrape the fabric with your fingernail, if the threads separate the fabric won’t wear well. To check the fiber length, pull a thread from the fabric and untwist it; if the fibers are at least 1/2" long, the fabric will wear well. Rub two fabric scraps together to see if the fabric pills. To check for color fastness, rub the colored fabric with a piece of white fabric; no dye should come off on the white fabric. Better quality cottons don’t have a lot of sizing (a finish that makes the fabric appear firmer). As a fabric’s sizing dissipates with repeated washings, the fabric loses its crisp hand.

Preparing Fabric
Cotton fibers don’t shrink, but cotton fabric does, so preshrink the yardage. To preshrink, wash the fabric the same way you intend to launder the finished garment. Make sure the fabric is on-grain; that is, that the crosswise and lengthwise threads are truly perpendicular to each other. If the cotton has a permanent finish, it’s not possible to straighten the grain. If the fabric has a print and the grain is off, the print may be skewed once you straighten the fabric. Avoid print fabrics unless the threads are truly on-grain. If it’s difficult to tell the right side of the fabric from the wrong side, mark the wrong side with chalk to avoid confusion and a finished garment with shading differences.
Cotton T-shirt
Sewing Cotton
There are no hard-and-fast rules for sewing with cotton because there so many fabric types. If the fabric does require special sewing techniques, it’s because of the fabric type, not the fiber. Refer to fabric characteristics, such as ribbed or napped construction, decorative surfaces, loose weaves and fabric weight for sewing suggestions. Use fabric weight as a guide when selecting the correct size needle and stitch length. Use a universal or standard-point needle on wovens, knits and synthetics. A ball-point needle is better for knit fabrics; the rounded tip slides between the knit loops instead of piercing them. Always test-stitch a sample seam on a scrap of the fabric. Use moderate tension on woven fabric, and reduce the tension on knits. When choosing thread, try to match fabric and thread fibers. Cotton wrapped polyester thread is fine for sewing cotton fabric. If you’re working with a very stretchy cotton knit, choose a 100% polyester thread because it stretches more than the cotton-wrapped polyester thread. When sewing woven cottons that don’t need to stretch, a 100% cotton thread is perfect. This thread is lovely to work with and, although not as durable as the other two, produces flat seams.

Laundering & Garment Care
Most cotton fabrics can be laundered in the washing machine. They should be washed frequently, since they tend to absorb moisture and pick up dirt. Wash white items in hot water, medium colors in warm water and dark colors in cold water. Cotton will shrink more in hot water than cold, and fabric that’s loosely woven shrinks more than tighter weaves. Items with embossed designs and inner construction, such as a lining and shoulder pads, should be dry-cleaned. Loose knits, lingerie and fabrics with special finishes might also benefit from dry-cleaning.

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Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the family of Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will tend to increase the dispersal of the seeds.

cotton is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and between 6000 BC and 5000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization

Successful cultivation of cotton requires a long frost-free period, plenty of sunshine, and a moderate rainfall, usually from 60 to 120 cm.

The Advantages of Cotton Clothing
A Better Night's Sleep: Research proves you get a better night's sleep on cotton sheets than sheets made from synthetic fibers because cotton naturally allows your skin to breathe and does not trap heat under the covers.

Wear More, Wash Less: Since cotton is breathable and does not retain odors like oil based fabrics, you can save your clothes a few trips to the hamper between wears. Not doing laundry is awesome, of course. Plus you will save money, water and energy, and help your clothes last even longer.

Wear Cotton Anytime, Anywhere: From work to play, athletic wear to evening wear, cotton is there. The fiber is so versatile that it can be woven or knitted into a bunch of different fabrics like corduroy, chambray, lace and velour. So no matter what the occasion, cotton has you covered.

Count On Cotton: Cotton is strong, tough and not afraid to get its fibers dirty. You can rely on it to last a long time and not fall apart on the first wear. From durable work clothes to timeless LBDs, stock your closet with cotton because it is in it for the long haul.

Cotton Is Low Maintenance: Cotton is easier to wash and care for than other fabrics, so let your washing machine do your dirty work and enjoy the money you will save on dry cleaning.

Stay in Shape: There is such a thing as too much stretch. The more spandex you add to a garment, the higher your chances of sagging, bagging and stretching out. Keep your clothes from getting bent out of shape by looking for less than 5 % spandex on the label.

Breathe Easy: Do not get caught in a sweat trap. Cotton breathes better than oil based synthetic fabrics like polyester, so it is the perfect thing to wear when you are working out. Not to mention that moisture wicking cotton is specially designed to keep you drier and cooler during exercise.

Look Good, Feel Even Better: Cotton is soft, absorbent and breathable. So, if your clothes are itchy, irritating, stiff or clingy, look on your label because your clothing may not be cotton-rich.

Cotton Doesn’t Stink: When you are cooking dinner, working out or sitting around the campfire, your clothes are bound to soak in different odors. With cotton, you don’t have to worry. It releases stinky substances more easily than other fabrics once it is in the washing machine.

You will not Catch Cotton Clinging: Cotton is a lot of things, but it is definitely not clingy. Static cling can be blamed for many an embarrassing fabric fail, but cotton is never the culprit because it can’t hold an electric charge. So if you want cling-free clothes, stick with cotton.

Pilling is not a problem: If people think pilling is wrong, then choosing cotton has to be right. Pills are pesky balls of tangled fibers that pop up on your clothes when the fabric rubs against itself or another material. Once nylon, polyester and blends pill, it’s permanent, while cotton sheds any pills in the wash. So if you want your clothes to stay smooth, check the label before you buy.

Cotton fabric is not colorfast, so the dyes in these clothes can fade in the washer and dryer. Help keep colors looking bright by turning them inside out before laundering and using the shortest cycle possible for the soil level and fabric.

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