Kruti Shah is a content crafter at Garmium. You can find me online blogging about fashion, clothing, accessories, and everything else.
There can be hardly anybody who doesn’t have a piece of cotton garment in their wardrobe. It is also common for people to prefer one type of cotton for bed sheets and a different one for clothing. You may not like the same cotton fabric for every garment you wear. Well, did you ever think about how these cotton varieties are different and what garments they best suit? Well, this is something we are going to explain in this post. But before everything, let’s begin by invoking a bit of history about cotton.
The rise of cotton as the most popular fabric
Cotton today is the staple fabric for the entire garment, fashion and upholstery industry. The popularity of cotton probably lies in the versatility of the fabric in accommodating all types of use cases and preferences for different seasons and weather conditions. Comfort is the second most important fabric to make it so popular for garments and upholstery.
Cotton has been cultivated almost since the beginning of civilization. It was first grown and spun in the Indus River Valley of today’s Pakistan in 3000 B.C and was taken by Arab merchants to Europe throughout history it travelled to different parts of the world and gave birth to different varieties of cotton yarns according to the soil and agricultural methods. When Columbus set his feet on the American continent, cotton was already being grown by the inhabitants of the Bahama Islands.
As the cotton plantations spread all over the world, the repository of cotton varieties continued to be richer with different lengths of yarns, shine and lustre, strength and durability and texture of the cotton fabric. Some of the original cotton fabrics known for their quality include the following:
- South American Upland cotton: Commonly known as Upland cotton, this variety consists of 90% of total cotton production in the world. Produced mainly in the cotton fields of Mexico and South America, it is the most common cotton fabric used in the garment industry.
- Egyptian cotton: This extra long yarn cotton variety originally produced in the cotton fields on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt comprises just 8% of the total cotton production in the world. This cotton variety cultivated partially in some areas of America’s southern states gave birth to another high-quality cotton called Pima cotton.
- Tree cotton: This is another premium cotton variety produced mainly in Pakistan and India and the yarns can be as long as two meters. This cotton constitutes just 2% of the total cotton production in the world.
- Levant cotton: This type of cotton is grown in shrubs of the Arab peninsula and some countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It comprises just 2% of the total cotton production in the world.
A cotton garment can help you stay cool in summer or can give you warmth in the winter. While cotton can be comforting for all seasons, it depends on your choice of fabric. Similarly, the texture and shine, strength, and durability of the fabric also vary based on the cotton fabric you choose for your garment.
As cotton fabric besides its original and organic character of the yarns also went through hi-tech innovations in the garment production industry, the cotton fabric continued to evolve and offered us a multitude of varieties. Let’s now have a brief look at the different modern varieties of fabric and their use cases.
Supima cotton is the Egyptian cotton variety grown in America's southern districts. With the yarn of Supima ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches in length, it is regarded as one of the highest quality cotton fabrics. The smooth and soft feel and durability and strength of the fabric made Supima a chosen one for high-quality t-shirts and casual fashion wear. Supima cotton is also preferred for its wrinkle-free and maintenance-free look.
Egyptian cotton is widely regarded as the highest quality cotton fabric because of its unparalleled thread counts, extra-long yarns, softness and lustre. The fabric is widely used in high-end bed sheets and upholstery products as well as by expensive cotton garment brands all over the world. From the higher strength and durability of the fabric to the soft and smooth feel, this cotton variety epitomises the most essential cotton fabric attributes.
Sea Island Cotton
Sea Island cotton is another premium grade and rarest variety of cotton fabric used in the finest quality garments and undergarments. Super-smooth, fine texture with uniform threading gives this fabric a unique lustre and shine. The soft and smooth feel of the fabric of your skin along with a bit of elasticity made it a good choice for premium boxer shorts brands.
Twill is a distinct weaving pattern of cotton fabric that is widely used in denim, chinos, gabardines and other garment fabrics. The weave pattern with the threads crisscrossing diagonally gives this fabric a distinct texture and feel. This fabric is used widely for producing pants, jackets, skirts and many others. The fabric is known as sturdy and durable.
Flannel or Brushed Cotton
Flannel or Brushed cotton has its fibre brushed in a single direction and accordingly it is named. Having a medium weight it is soft and warm in feel. It is widely used in casual garments and bedding materials. Used in all types of casual wear starting from pyjamas or nightwear to casual shirts to children's garments, flannel is a popular cotton fabric.
Cotton lawn is plain cotton fabric with a smooth and lightweight feel. Though this fabric is thin, because of the fine weave it is moderately strong. Cotton lawn is used widely in blankets, tablecloths, blouses and undergarments, etc.
Levant cotton produced mainly in the shrubs of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab Peninsula is often called the cotton of the old world. Short-length yarns and small thread count make Levant cotton a cheaper fabric variety used by manufacturers in common cotton garments and cloth products.
Cotton Broadcloth or Poplin
Cotton Broadcloth or Poplin is a plain weave cotton fabric with medium weight. Because of its tight weaving and lightweight build, it is extremely handy for sewing as well. As a lightweight fabric, it perfectly fits the summer garments and fabric required for fine inner lining in garments.
When a single cotton yarn is knitted to produce a fabric with braids looped intricately into one another, we have this fabric variety. This is popular because of the distinct grains and uneven surface. Generally used to deliver a distinct fashion statement for the men’s and women’s garments, it is used widely in winter wear and casual wear.
Voile is the French word for veil. It is another cotton blend fabric made of a fine mixture of high-quality cotton with linen or polyester. Voile is extremely lightweight and it was traditionally used for women's veils. As the name suggests, this fabric is used widely for producing high-quality curtains, netted veils, see-through garments that people wear in hot and tropical climates, etc.
Cotton Wool fusion
Some garment manufacturers bring the goodness of cotton and wool fabric together to deliver a resilient and strong fabric with promises of extra warmth for cool weather. The comfort and smoothness of cotton and the strength and warmth of wool brought together by this fabric make great material for winter garments. Some of the varieties of this fusion fabric used in the garment industry include velvet, tweed, brocade, chenille and a few others.
Cotton Linen Blend
The cotton-linen blend is a typical fabric variety known for its softness, smooth feel, comfort and lightweight build. Generally created from half cotton and half linen yarns it is regarded as one of the premium garment fabrics in the market. This blended fabric is widely used in casual garments including casual shirts, pants, jackets and also in premium grade upholstery and bedsheets.
Silk Cotton Blend
The blend of silk and cotton produces an extremely lightweight fabric which is smooth and soft on the body and full of lustre for the onlookers. This cotton blend fabric is particularly used in party-wear and casual garments and dresses for both men and women.
From the above description of various types of cotton fabric, the versatility of cotton as a fabric material can be easily understood. Cotton for ages could stand as the staple fabric choice for most garment and fashion products because of the numerous use cases and fabric options it offered for the users. The softness and simple elegance of cotton always stand out in the pile of fabrics gathered in our wardrobes.
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