what is cotton fabric (1)

What is Cotton Fabric?

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    Cotton fabric is one of the most commonly used types of fabrics in the world. This textile is chemically organic, which means that it does not contain any synthetic compounds. Cotton fabric is derived from the fibers surrounding the seeds of cotton plants, which emerge in a round, fluffy formation once the seeds are mature.

    History Of Cotton Fabric

    The earliest evidence for the use of cotton fibers in textiles is from the Mehrgarh and Rakhigarhi sites in India, which date to approximately 5000 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spanned the Indian Subcontinent from 3300 to 1300 BC, was able to flourish due to cotton cultivation, which provided the people of this culture with readily available sources of clothing and other textiles. It’s possible that people in the Americas used cotton for textiles as long ago as 5500 BC, but it’s clear that cotton cultivation was widespread throughout Mesoamerica since at least 4200 BC. While the Ancient Chinese relied more on silk than cotton for the production of textiles, cotton cultivation was popular in China during the Han dynasty, which lasted from 206 BC to 220 AD. While cotton cultivation was widespread in both Arabia and Iran, this textile plant didn’t make its way to Europe in full force until the late Middle Ages. Before this point, Europeans believed that cotton grew on mysterious trees in India, and some scholars during this period even suggested that this textile was a type of wool that was produced by sheep that grows on trees.

    Different Types Of Cotton Fabric

    • Short-staple Cotton
    • Long-staple Cotton
    • Extra-long-staple Cotton
    • Egyptian Cotton
    • Pima Cotton
    • Supima Cotton

    There are four distinct species of cotton that are used to make cotton fabric. In addition, there are several sub-varieties of cotton fabric that are made from these plant species:


    Cotton Plant Varieties 

    Gossypium Hirsutum 

    This type of cotton is the most widely-produced form of this textile crop. It accounts for 90 percent of the world’s cotton production, and it is native to Central America and the nations surrounding the Caribbean Sea.

    Over the years, traders have exported this type of cotton to practically every location throughout the world, and it grows well in practically any climate. Gossypium hirsutum is a short-staple (SS) cotton fiber, which means that it is not as high-quality as other forms of this textile fiber.

    Gossypium Barbadense

    Gossypium barbadense is an extra-long-staple (ELS) cotton variety, which means that it consists of longer cotton fibers that produce softer and more luxurious textiles. This type of cotton accounts for 8 percent of the world’s cotton production, and it is significantly more expensive than Gossypium hirsutum.

    This ELS cotton variation is native to South America, and it has been exported to a variety of locations throughout the world. For instance, Pima cotton is a form of Gossypium barbadense, and producers cultivate this type of cotton in China, India, and other foreign nations.

    Gossypium Arboreum

    While most types of cotton grow on small bushes, Gossypium arboreum grows on larger bushes that could almost be considered to be trees. This type of cotton accounts for less than 2 percent of global production.

    Gossypium Herbaceum

    Also known as Levant cotton, this type of fiber is native to Africa and Arabia, and it contributes less than 2 percent to global cotton cultivation.

    Cotton Fabric Varieties

    Short-Staple Cotton

    Short-staple (SS) cotton is any type of cotton that consists of fibers that are up to 1.125 inches long. While this type of cotton is great for everyday use, it isn’t as soft as other types of cotton.

    Long-Staple Cotton

    Long-staple (LS) cotton is any type of cotton that consists of fibers that are between 1.125 and 1.25 inches long. This type of cotton is somewhat more luxurious than SS cotton.

    Extra-Long-Staple Cotton

    Extra-long staple (ELS) cotton is any type of cotton that consists of fibers that are longer than 1.25 inches. ELS cotton is the most luxurious and soft type of cotton in existence.

    Egyptian Cotton

    Egyptian cotton is a term that refers to certain forms of either LS or ELS cotton. Giza 45 cotton, for instance, is over 45 millimeters (1.77 inches) long, which makes it one of the longest and most luxurious varieties of cotton in existence.

    Pima Cotton

    Pima cotton is a type of ELS cotton that was created through a partnership between the U.S. government and the Pima Indians in the early 20th century. It is considered to be one of the most durable forms of cotton.

    Supima Cotton

    Supima cotton is a type of Pima cotton that has received the blessing of the American Supima Association (ASA). To be considered “Supima,” Pima cotton can only be grown in the United States with organic cultivation practices.

    FAQs About Cotton Fabric

    Cotton fabric producers derive this textile from the fibrous protective casing that surrounds cotton seeds, which is called a boll. While cotton seeds themselves are quite small, the bolls that encase them can be larger than the end of your thumb. To make cotton fabric, producers must first separate the cotton seed from the boll. In the past, this step was done by hand. Cotton production begins in the spring when cotton seeds are planted. In most cases, automated machines plant cotton seeds in 10 or more rows simultaneously. Seedlings emerge within approximately seven days, and mature cotton bolls appear within 55 to 80 days. Prior to machine harvesting, human workers are generally required for defoliation, which is the process of removing the leaves from cotton plants. This cotton yarn may then be subjected to a variety of chemical treatments, and it may be dyed. Next, it is woven into a particular type of textile material such as a bedsheet, T-shirt, or pair of blue jeans.

    For instance, most T-shirts contain at least some amount of cotton, and true blue jeans are 100 percent cotton. This fabric is used to make bathrobes, bathmats, and towels, and it is also used to make bedsheets, blankets, and duvets. Manufacturers may even use cotton to make curtains, wall-hangings, and other types of home decorations.

    India and China are frequently tied as the largest cotton producers in the world. According to Statista, India overtook its East Asian competitor between 2017 and 2018 by producing 6,205,000 metric tons of cotton. For comparison, China produced 5,987,000 metric tons of cotton fiber during this same period.

    According to Index Mundi, raw cotton costs approximately $0.75 per pound. However, these prices are subject to constant change. Cotton costs significantly more once a producer has formed it into yarn, and its price increases again once this fiber is made into a final product.

    Reasons Why You Should Choose Fabric Cotton

    Cotton Versatile

    You can choose cotton fabric to wear for almost any occasion. Whether you want work attire or sports clothing, you can find cotton fabric used in every piece of clothing. A gorgeous evening wear will feel light on you when it is made of cotton fabric. Depending on the knitted or woven fabric design, cotton is used in making chambray, corduroy, velour and lace materials. 

    Cotton Is Strong And Durable

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    Unlike other fibres that require delicate handling, cotton is always available for those who are rough with their clothes. You can get down and dirty with cotton and a simple wash is all that is required to remove the stains. The strong fabric will make your dress durable for a much longer time. Depending on the quality of the fabric, the color doesn’t fade away and your dress will look fresh even after a few washes. 

    Cotton Keeps You Cool

    One of the most important benefits of cotton fabric is that it is breathable. That is why cotton sheets are the most preferred form of bedding material. When you wear cotton, your skin will breathe comfortably and it can keep you cool during hot weather. It is the perfect material to make workout wear because cotton absorbs sweat. Even when you are a sweaty mess, the cotton fabric will keep you away from the sweat trap with its moisture wicking properties. It is for this reason that cotton is the ideal choice of fabric for infants and young children.

    Cotton Is Odor Free

    The oil based fabrics don't absorb sweat and as a result, the dress will retain the odor. Cotton, on the other hand, doesn’t retain odor and it is an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin. You can save a few trips to the washer because you can wear cotton more and wash it less. Any chance to not do the laundry is wonderful and you can save energy, water and time by wearing cotton more.

    Cotton Is Low Maintenance 

    Cotton is a naturally occurring material that requires little care. All you need to do to wash the stains away is use an appropriate stain remover on tough stains and leave the rest to your washing machine. Unless otherwise specified, the cotton fabric doesn’t require dry cleaning and you can simply hang the clothes out to dry.

    The Impact Of Cotton Fabric On The Environment

    Cotton production is inherently non-impactful on the environment. Since this type of textile is a natural fiber, it is biodegradable, and it doesn’t fill up waterways or contribute to other forms of pollution. However, the practices that manufacturers use to make cotton may be harmful to the environment. Cotton cultivation requires a huge amount of water, and producing this textile may also involve land repurposing. Since most cotton producers focus on cultivating the largest amount of fiber possible at the lowest cost, they don’t properly care for the land they use for cultivation. As a result, cotton cultivation frequently depletes the soil in the areas where it is grown. Most cotton producers worldwide resort to agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers, to grow their crops. These harmful chemicals run off into the surrounding water, poison the soil, and end up being present in potentially dangerous concentrations in end products. In the vast majority of instances, cotton cultivation is an exploitative practice in which international corporations take advantage of poor, uneducated people in third-world countries to produce these fibers. This practice is harmful to communities, and it supports a cycle of poverty that results in reduced life expectancy and multiple succeeding generations of servitude. It’s possible, however, to cultivate cotton with organic means. Organic cultivation processes do not involve any artificial pesticides or fertilizers, which reduces the environmental impact of the production of this textile fiber. To be certified as organic, cotton cultivators must also promote sustainability within the communities where they operate. Workers who produce organic cotton must be compensated fairly, and environmental degradation must be kept to a minimum. Certain kinds of cotton, such as Supima cotton, are only available in organic forms.

    Advantages of Cotton Fabric In Clothing


    Unlike most synthetic fabrics, cotton absorbs the sweat from your body and allows it to evaporate into the air. It works like a towel, wicking the moisture away from your skin and discouraging the growth of bacteria and yeast. This property makes it the best fabric for exercise clothes, underwear and sleepwear.


    Cotton is a soft and stretchy fabric that is comfortable to wear.


    Cotton does not conduct temperature well, making it an insulator. It keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter, allowing you to be comfortable year round. It resists static cling as well.


    While synthetic fabrics are manufactured with chemicals, cotton is a natural fabric that does not irritate the skin.


    Cotton fabrics do not cause skin allergies, which is why they are recommended for babies and people with sensitive skin. This is also one of the reasons why bandages and gauze are made with cotton.


    Cotton fibres are spun into a tight yarn that is both strong and durable. In fact, it is 30 percent stronger when it is wet, so it can withstand quite a few washes. It happens to be stain-repellent too. 


    There are many varieties of cloth that are all made with cotton fibre. These include denim, corduroy, seersucker, chino, broadcloth, calico, and gingham. Cotton also takes well to dye, so it is available in a range of vivid colours.

    Disadvantages Of Cotton Fabric In Clothing


    When you buy cotton clothing, you may have to pick a slightly larger size than your actual size since it tends to shrink. If you are making an outfit out of cotton fabric, make sure you wash it once before you stitch it, so that it has shrunk already.


    Cotton fabric is prone to wrinkling, so you'll have to iron your clothes every time you want to wear them.


    Cotton is more prone to damage since it's a natural fibre. It can get damaged by damp and mildew and tends to fade in the sunlight.


    The colours from cotton clothing can run, bleeding onto your other clothes and discolouring them. It also dries slowly and is more prone to lint, since the fibres tend to be pretty short.

    The Different Types Of Fabric

    Natural Vs Synthetic

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    The first differing detail with fabrics is dependent on what type of fiber is used. There are two types: natural and synthetic. Natural fibers are obtained from plants and animals. For example, cotton comes from plants while silk comes from silkworms. Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are made entirely of synthetic matter created by man.

    Woven Vs. Knitted

    The second differing detail is the production process used. Again, there are two types: woven and knitted. Woven fabrics are made up of two pieces of yarn that interweave horizontally and vertically on a loom. Since the yarn runs at a 45-degree angle, the fabric doesn’t stretch and is usually tauter and sturdier than knit fabrics. The fabric consists of a weft (when the yarn goes across the width of the fabric) and a warp (when the yarn goes down the length of the loom). There are three types of woven fabric: plain weave, satin weave and twill weave. Examples of popular woven fabrics are chiffon, crepe, denim, linen, satin and silk. For knit fabric, think of a hand-knit scar; the yarn is formed into an interconnecting loop design, which allows it to stretch significantly. Knit fabrics are known for being elastic and keeping shape. There are two types of knit fabric: warp-knitted and weft-knitted. Examples of popular knit fabrics are lace, lycra and mesh.


    Chiffon is a sheer, lightweight, plain-woven fabric made from twisted yarn that gives it a slightly rough feel. The yarn is usually made of silk, nylon, polyester or rayon. Chiffon can be easily dyed and is usually seen in scarves, blouses and dresses, including wedding gowns and prom dresses, due to its light, flowing material.


    Known as the most popular material in the world, cotton is a light, soft natural fabric. The fluffy fiber is extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant in a process called ginning. The fiber is then spun into cloth, where it can be woven or knit.


    Crepe is a lightweight, twisted plain-woven fabric with a rough, bumpy surface that doesn’t wrinkle. It is often made from cotton, silk, wool or synthetic fibers, making it a versatile fabric. Due to this, crepe is usually called after its fiber; for example, crepe silk or crepe chiffon.


    Another type of fabric is denim. Denim is a woven cotton twill fabric made from entwined cotton wrap yarn and white cotton stuffing yarn. It is often known for its vivid texture, sturdiness, durability and comfortableness.


    Lace is an elegant, delicate fabric made from looped, twisted or knitted yarn or thread. It was originally made from silk and linen, but lace is now made with cotton thread, wool or synthetic fibers. There are two main elements to lace: the design and the ground fabric, which holds the pattern together.


    Cotton is a staple textile of the fashion industry. Every closet probably houses a large percentage of cotton items, be it plain cotton, dyed cotton, or cotton mix. Cotton is a natural fiber derived from cotton plants whose use dates back to the fifth millennium B.C.

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