Its production is one of the major factors in world prosperity and economic stability. Cotton “breathes”. What would we do without cotton? Since cotton wrinkles, polyester was added to give it wash and wear properties for a busy world. In recent times, the consumer determined that polyester, although easier to care for, took away the cool from cotton and also added a “pilling” effect to cotton/polyester blends. Consumers now often request “100% Cotton”. Permanent finishes also added to the all cotton fabric gave a wash and wear property to cotton. The cotton fiber is from the cotton plant’s seed pod The fiber is hollow in the center and, under a microscope looks like a twisted ribbon. “Absorbent” cotton will retain 24-27 times its own weight in water and is stronger when wet than dry. This fiber absorbs and releases perspiration quickly, thus allowing the fabric to “breathe”. Cotton can stand high temperatures and takes dyes easily. Chlorine bleach can be used to restore white garments to a clear white but this bleach may yellow chemically finished cottons or remove color in dyed cottons. Boiling and sterilizing temperatures can also be used on cotton without disintegration. Cotton can also be ironed at relatively high temperatures, stands up to abrasion and wears well.
Mercerized cotton is treated to permanently straighten the cotton fibers which then becomes a smooth, rod-like fiber that is uniform in appearance with a high luster. Cotton is often blended with other fibers such as polyester, linen, wool, to “blend” the best properties of each fiber.
CLICK HERE for the Glossary of Cotton Fabrics and Weaves.