WHAT IS COTTON ?
One of the best known fabrics we use is cotton fabric. Cotton fabric is not really a fabric - actually, cotton is a raw material made from the stuff, fluffy little balls mainly grown in Asia, Africa and North America.
Cotton is the best known natural fiber and the most widely used textile fiber in the garment industry. It has been used for millinery for thousands of years. Cotton is made from the seed hair of the cotton plant, a herbaceous shrub-like plant. Botanically speaking, this is one of the mallow family. There are over 20 different types. However, only four are cultured for cotton production. Cotton is very absorbent (it can absorb up to 65% of its own weight in water), but dries only slowly. It is especially skin-friendly ("does not scratch") and has only a very low allergy potential. Therefore, cotton is often the best choice for sensitive skin. A disadvantage of cotton is, however, in addition to the slow dry season, a higher crease susceptibility. In addition, cotton is sensitive to microorganisms (eg it molds quickly if kept moist).
Cotton has been turned into fabric for several millennia. The main producing countries are USA, Brazil, India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Australia. The seed hairs are harvested from the cotton capsules, which are dried, ginned and spun.
QUALITY OF COTTON
The following applies to cotton quality : the longer the seed fibers, the finer and higher quality the cotton. Especially the harvest by hand stands for higher quality, because here really only ripe seed hair is picked. The color palette of untreated natural fibers ranges from white to slightly yellowish to cream, beige and light brown.
ADVANTAGES OF COTTON
Because cotton fabrics are very soft, they are considered skin-friendly. The moisture absorption is very high, although it does not feel damp immediately. It also dries slower. Due to the fact that cotton almost always contains moisture, it does not become electrostatically charged and when wet it is even more tear-resistant than when dry. Cotton is very light and airy and is therefore not a good thermal insulator.
ORGANIC COTTON AS AN ALTERNATIVE
Less than 1% of the world's cotton comes from organic farming, mainly from India and Turkey. Organic cotton must be cultivated in mixed crops, ie in a field alternating with other plants that can be used to combat hunger, such as beans. Organic farming requires less use of inputs as the plants are perennial and pesticides are not allowed. Organic cotton also has a higher price on the world market and is free of genetic engineering. This makes it more sustainable for people and the environment. Depending on certification, eg Fair Trade or GOTS, a stable world market price and the ban on child and forced labor are guaranteed.
In organic farming, there are also rear-cultures of old, forgotten seeds and different varieties. For example, there are now textiles made of colorfully grown organic cotton.
EXAMPLES OF COTTON FABRICS
USAGE OF COTTON
- Clothes (pants, dresses, skirts, jackets, blouses, underwear, etc.)
- Accessories (bags, hats, handkerchiefs, pencil cases, patchwork, etc.)
- Home textiles (bed linen, kitchen towels, table linen, bath towels, etc.)