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Variety, Nomenclature and Behavior of Cotton Fabrics
-Prepared by -P.Lakshmana kanth, Senior Faculty – IFTK
• Cotton remains the most miraculous fiber under the sun, even after 8,000 years. • No other fiber comes close to duplicating all of the desirable characteristics combined in cotton • The fiber of a thousand faces and almost as many uses, cotton is noted for its versatility, appearance, performance and above all, its natural comfort.
• From all types of apparel, including astronauts’ in-flight space suits, to sheets and towels, and tarpaulins and tents, cotton in today’s fast-moving world is still nature’s wonder fiber. • It provides thousands of useful products and supports millions of jobs as it moves from field to fabric
• Cotton is the world’s most important apparel fiber, making up over 50% of the fabric sold throughout the world, including cotton suits, cotton shirts, and cotton underwear. • This isn’t by accident. With a long history, it has endured because of its unique properties that make it ideal for much of the clothing we wear.
• Cotton is attractive, durable, comfortable, and has proven itself countless times to be a superior fiber for clothing manufacturing. • Cotton can be made into an astonishingly wide range of fabrics, light and heavy, napped and smooth, glossy and matt. • These fabrics are hard wearing, wash easily and are cool to wear. • Cotton is absorbent and this, with its ease of washing, makes it an excellent fabric for hot climates and sports wear. • It can be woven or knitted
Different Types of Cotton
• Egyptian cotton is a fine, glistening cotton that has long thinner fibres. • This is the most popular cotton that is used to make bed sheets, cushion covers etc. • It is light brown in colour and is suitable for strong yarns.
Sea Island Cotton
• Sea Island cotton is an expensive one, as its growth and processing takes a lot of efforts and cost. • It is one of the finest cottons present in the world of cotton and is often mixed with silk. • The clothes made out of this variety of cotton are expensive for the buyer, because of the high cost of production.
• Pima cotton has long and smooth fibers and falls in the category of Extra Long Staple (ELS) types of cotton. • Similar to the Egyptian cotton in terms of quality, it is a strong, soft, and durable material, which make it one of the most famous and popular cotton types to be used for clothing, towels and sheets.
• This type of cotton can be found in India, China and near Eastern regions. • It has harsh and coarse fibres and is well suited to manufacture blankets, filters, coarse clothes and padding materials.
American Upland Cotton
• American Upland cotton is one of the most commonly used cotton and is less expensive as well. • It is of a basic quality and is used to make several fabrics. • The cotton is of an extremely versatile nature and can be used to manufacture expensive shirts and denims as well.
• Canton cotton is a type of cotton used for manufacturing winter clothing like sweaters, because if it’s heavy nature. • It is strong, soft and difficult to pull apart, making it suitable for the purpose. • Canton cotton is the most popular type of cotton which people are aware of.
French Terry Cotton
• Another form of cotton is the French Terry cotton type. • It is a heavy cotton, much heavier than cotton twill, but slightly lighter than Canton cotton. • It is a soft cotton type with a short nap.
• It is harder than the usual cottons and is not easily available in usual retail shops, neither are the fabrics made out of this cotton are easily available. • Organic cotton is minus any types of chemicals and pesticides that are generally used in the production of other types of cottons. • Even the clothes manufactured out of this cotton are not exposed to the environmentally harmful chemicals that the other materials are used to.
Physical Characteristics of Cotton
• Cotton is divided into various groups depending on its physical characteristics; we will focus on two of the most important characteristics, • (1) the length of the cotton fibre and • (2) its fineness.
The length of the cotton fibre
• Cotton fibres vary in length considerably, from half an inch to 2 inches. • Higher quality is often associated with longer length, and achieving this desired state is more expensive due the risk of a longer growth cycle and an increased demand on resources. • Long fibres make up only 3% of the worldwide output, and their use is typically reserved for high end shirt fabrics and other luxury. • A few varieties of this long fibre cotton used in shirt fabrics are American Pima, Egyptian, and Sea Island Cottons.
Cotton fineness (the fibre's diameter)
• Cotton fineness (the fibre's diameter) is another quality characteristic; immature fibres tend to be 20% thinner than mature fibres, and therefore are less strong. • Very high end fabric producers seek to separate the mature from the immature fibres, ensuring high durability.
Properties of Cotton
Absorbency of Cotton
• This is what makes cotton so comfortable in hot weather. • It absorbs the moisture from your skin allowing it to evaporate by passing through the fabric, thus allowing your body to regulate your temperature. • This combined with the spun yarns ability to hold the fabric slightly off the skin allows greater comfort than other fabrics in hot conditions
Cotton and Heat Conduction
• Heat passes freely through cotton; combining this property along with the absorbency characteristic, you have an unbeatable fibre for making hot weather wearing fabric. • However, in cold weather, this strength is a weakness; typically cotton jackets are not good at retaining the body’s heat.
Resiliency of Cotton
• Fabrics made from cotton tend to wrinkle and do not hold their shape well. • This problem can be addressed by specially treating the fabric or blending it with a man made fibre, but you lose a bit of its other properties such as durability and heat conduction by doing so
• Cotton is tough (at least when compared with other common clothing fibres). • In fact, when wet it increases in strength by 30%; thus throwing 100% cotton shirts in the washing machine may mean a lot of ironing, but you can be sure the fabric will remain intact.
• It can be washed with strong detergents, and the only thing you may want to watch out for is it losing some of its colour (thus the case for hand washing). • Cotton's molecular structure resists heat damage, so ironing is a great way to get the fabric looking crisp; a quick tip - shirts respond best to ironing when they come immediately out of the dryer still a bit damp and warm.
• Cotton does not collect static, so it will not cling like synthetic. • Cotton is a versatile fabric available in a wide variety. Fabrics vary in weight, quality and construction. There are delicate lawns, sheer voile, crisp organdie, plush corduroy, and industrial weight duck.
• Cotton can be blended with silk, wool, polyester and rayon to change the look and feel of the fabric. The most popular blend is with polyester, usually to cut costs and reduce wrinkles. • Cotton does not have the body or suppleness for good drapeability, but the quality can be improved with special finishes. • Loosely woven cotton fabrics and knitted goods tend to shrink, especially at the first wash.
• Calico fabric with white or brightly colored design on red or dark grounds. Used for casual clothes and beach wear.
• Fine fabric in plain-rib weave. Usually white or pastel colors. Used for dresses, blouses, lingerie, particularly corsets and brasseries.
• Fine slightly stiff fabric decorated with embroidered eyelet holes and floral motifs. For blouses, dress, nightwear and babies and children wear.
• One of the oldest basic cotton fabrics on the market that traces its origin to Calcutta, India. • Usually a plain, closely woven inexpensive cloth made in solid colors on a white or contrasting background. • Often one, two, or three colors are seen on the face of the goods which are usually discharge or resist printed, frequently in a small floral pattern. • Used mainly for aprons, dresses, crazy quilts sportswear. Often interchangeable with percale - which is 80-square cotton.
• Soft, white, closely woven cotton fabric calendered to achieve a high glaze. • Used mainly for pocket linings, underwear, aprons, shirts, and handkerchiefs. • Originally made in Cambrai, France, of linen and used for church embroidery and table linen.
• Unbleached muslin bed sheeting, sometimes called Kraft muslin, used as a base fabric on which a chenille effect is formed by application of candlewick (heavyplied yarns) loops which are then cut to give the fuzzy effect and cut-yarn appearance of the true chenille yarn.
• Popular variety of cotton fabric in relatively square count 80 by 76 that combines colored warp and white filling yarns in plain weave. • Name derived from Cambrai, France, where it was first made.
• A fabric usually made of cotton, utilizing a cut-pile weave construction. • Extra sets of filling yarns are woven into the fabric to form ridges of yarn on the surface. • The ridges are built so that clear lines can be seen when the pile is cut.
• A variety of lightweight fabrics characterized by a crinkly surface, obtained either via use of hard twist yarns, chemical treatments, weave, construction, or some form of embossing or surface treatment. • Crepes are available today in an unlimited variety of fibers and blends, and in many different constructions.
• A firm 2X1 or 3X1 twill weave fabric often having a whitish tinge obtained by using white filling yarns with colored warp yarns. Heavier weight denims, usually blue, are used for dungarees, work clothes, and men's and women's sportswear. Lighter weight denims have a softer finish and come in a variety of colors and patterns for sportswear.
• Sheer, crisp fabric with a soft luster. Has a thicker thread woven in to make coarded stripes or checks. Made from mercerized yarn. Used for children’s dresses, blouses and lingerie.
• Strong, closely woven, twill fabric. Used for overalls, uniforms and trousers.
• The name duck covers a wide range of fabrics. A tightly woven, heavy, plain-weave, bottom-weight fabric with a hard, durable finish. The fabric is usually made of cotton, and is widely used in men's and women's slacks, and children's play clothes.
• A lightweight, sheer cotton or cotton blend fabric with a small dot flock-like pattern either printed on the surface of the fabric, or woven into the fabric. • End-uses for this fabric include blouses, dresses, baby clothes, and curtains.
• A medium-weight, plain weave fabric with a soft hand, usually made from cotton. • The fabric is usually brushed only on one side, and is lighter weight than flannel. • End-uses include shirts and pajamas
• A medium weight, plain weave fabric with dyed yarns in both warp and filling to achieve a plaid or check pattern. End-uses include dresses, shirts, and curtains
• A light, fine cloth made using carded or combed linen or cotton yarns. • The fabric has a crease-resistant, crisp finish. Linen lawn is synonymous with handkerchief linen. • Cotton lawn is a similar type of fabric, which can be white, solid colored, or printed.
• One of the oldest staples in the cotton trade, a lightweight plain weave cotton fabric with a striped, plaid, or checked pattern. • A true madras will bleed when washed. This type of fabric is usually exported from India to other countries. End-uses are men's and women's shirts and dresses
• An inexpensive, medium weight, plain weave, low count (less than 160 threads per square inch) cotton sheeting fabric. In its unfinished form, it is commonly used in fashion design to make trial garments for preliminary fit. •
• A lightweight plain weave cotton fabric usually finished to create a luster and a soft hand. Common end-uses are infants' wear, blouses, and lingerie.
• A stiffened, sheer, lightweight plain weave fabric, with a medium to high yarn count. End-uses include blouses, dresses, and curtains/draperies
• Soft, somewhat porous, and rather stout cotton shirting given a silk-like luster finish. Made on small repeat basket weaves, the fabric soils easily because of the soft, bulky filling used in the goods. The cloth comes in all white or may have stripes with small geometric designs between these stripes
• A medium-weight fabric, either knit or woven, with raised dobby designs including cords, wales, waffles, or patterns. Woven versions have cords running lengthwise, or in the warp direction. Knitted versions are double-knit fabric constructions, created on multi-feed circular knitting machines.
• A lightweight, plain weave, fabric, made from cotton, rayon, or acetate, and characterized by a puckered striped effect, usually in the warp direction. The crinkled effect is created through the application of a caustic soda solution, which shrinks the fabric in the areas of the fabric where it is applied. Plissé is similar in appearance to seersucker. End- uses include dresses, shirting’s, pyjamas, and bedspreads.
• A fabric made using a rib variation of the plain weave. The construction is characterized by having a slight ridge effect in one direction, usually the filling. Poplin used to be associated with casual clothing, but as the "world of work" has become more relaxed, this fabric has developed into a staple of men's wardrobes, being used frequently in casual trousers.
• Any heavy, plain-weave canvas fabric, usually made of cotton, linen, polyester, jute, nylon, etc. that is used for sails and apparel (i.e. bottom weight sportswear).
• A traditional fabric utilizing a satin weave construction to achieve a lustrous fabric face with a dull back. • Satin is a traditional fabric for evening and wedding garments.
• A woven fabric which incorporates modification of tension control. • In the production of seersucker, some of the warp yarns are held under controlled tension at all times during the weaving, while other warp yarns are in a relaxed state and tend to pucker when the filling yarns are placed. • The result produces a puckered stripe effect in the fabric. Seersucker is traditionally made into summer sportswear such as shirts, trousers, and informal suits
• A typical uncut pile weave fabric. This fabric is formed by using two sets of warp yarns. • One set of warp yarns is under very little tension; when the filling yarns are packed into place, these loose yarns are pushed backward along with the filling yarns, and loops are formed. • The cloth has uncut loops on both sides of the fabric. Typical uses include towels, robes, and apparel.
• A filling pile cloth in which the pile is made by cutting an extra set of filling yarns which weave in a float formation. • These yarns are woven or bound into the back of the material at intervals by weaving over and under one or more warp ends.
• A crisp, lightweight, plain weave cotton-like fabric, made with high twist yarns in a high yarn count construction. • Similar in appearance to organdy and organza. Used in blouses dresses and curtains.