Learn about the types of cotton. Cotton is easily the most widely used fabric around the world. In its 100% pure state, it does not contain any additives. It is also very compatible with other blends and cotton makes up a huge range of different types of fabrics. Cotton is strong, absorbent, and has been part of the clothing and fabric industry for a long time.
Types of Cotton
Cotton comes from plant material. The cotton boll grows on the cotton plant and is put through various cleaning processes until the cotton strands are taken and spun into yarn to weave cotton fabric. Seventy-five percent of the world's clothing is made from cotton.
Types of Raw Cotton
Types of raw cotton are described as:
- Short staple - A rough cotton suitable for everyday use.
- Long staple - A smoother cotton and softer to wear.
- Extra long staple - A luxurious and soft type of cotton that is comfortable to wear.
- Egyptian cotton - This is the longest fiber cotton and the most luxurious.
- Pima cotton - A very hard-wearing durable cotton that is mostly grown in the United States. Egyptian and pima cotton are scientifically verified and will have undergone tests to prove they are of that high quality and standard.
The different types of cotton fibers are blended or woven in different ways to produce a variety of cotton fabrics. These fabrics are classified according to their weight. There are several categories from lightweight to medium weight and heavyweight and grades in-between. Listing according to the grade of the fabric helps with the choice as different weights make fabrics suited for different tasks. The weight of the fabric is also a determining factor in its laundering procedure.
Lightweight Types of cotton
Broderie Anglaise is also known as eyelet, because of the cut-out embroidered holes. It is pure cotton or a cotton mix but always light to the touch. This soft fabric is machine washable and used for dresses, tops and nightwear. It must be ironed with a warm iron on the wrong side.
Cheesecloth is a soft, loosely woven cotton fabric. It has a rough texture to the finished cloth and is used for blouses, shirts and skirts. Cheesecloth needs hand washing and a warm iron.
Crinkle cotton, also known as crepon, is an intentionally creased cotton. It may be pure cotton or a blend, but it is known because of the creased effect of the fabric. Crinkle cotton may be used for shirts, skirts or dresses. It can be machine washed and then twisted and left to dry. The twist puts the creases back into the fabric.
Gingham, a hard-wearing fabric, is often used for children’s clothing and tableware. The fabric weave includes color and white to make up the checked pattern. It can be made of a poly-cotton and is machine washable.
Madras types of cotton are a light cotton made of mixed colors and patterns. It can be handwoven. Madras cotton creases easily. It is used for casual clothing and needs to be hand washed and ironed with a hot iron.
Lawn, crisp and smooth, is a plain cotton used for blouses, children’s clothing and underwear. It is a delicate fabric and needs a gentle wash and a warm iron.
Muslin is an unbleached plain weave fabric. The weave is long and loose and the fabric often used for interfacing or for a test garment to try out a new pattern. Muslin may be used for straining juices and jellies. It should be machine washed and ironed with a cool iron.
Poly/cotton is a blend of polyester and cotton. The proportions can be 50/50% or 65/35% depending on the manufacturers. It is easy to care for and sews up well.
Seersucker has an interesting puckered texture. These types of cotton are woven with stripes of plain fabric and puckered fabric to crease and give the seersucker effect. It is machine washable in cold water. Ironing is not necessary because of the puckered effect of the fabric.
Shirting cotton is a crisp, lightweight cotton. The fabric is woven in stripes or checks. It is widely used for men’s shirts and treated like poplin. Cotton shirting sews up easily and is machine washable.
Silk cotton mix is a lightweight fabric that combines the soft drape of silk with a cotton weave. It is suited for dresses and blouses. This fabric needs a gentle hand or machine wash. It can be dry cleaned and needs a warm iron on the wrong side of the fabric.
Voile is a very lightweight see-through fabric. It may be plain or printed and is very soft. Voile gathers and drapes well. It makes beautiful gathered skirts and flowing dresses. The seams need to be made as neatly as possible because they show through the fabric. French seams are recommended. Voile needs a gentle wash and a cool iron to preserve this delicate fabric.
Medium Weight Types of Cotton
Jersey or cotton knit is a stretch fabric. Cotton knit is used for T-shirts, tops and dresses and especially for sportswear. Sewing cotton knit requires a ballpoint needle and a zigzag stitch setting to accommodate the stretch of the fabric. It is a versatile fabric and can be machine washed.
Linen/cotton blend is a soft, light to medium weight fabric. It is often made up of 50% cotton and 50% linen and can be a little bit rough on the skin. It is useful for many different sewing projects like aprons, tunics, skirts, dresses and shirts as well as jackets. This fabric can be machine washed and needs a hot iron on the back, while it is still damp, for the best results.
Brushed types of cotton, are also known as flannel or flannelette. One side of the fabric is brushed to make it soft to the touch. It comes in all colors, prints, florals and stripes. Flannelette is useful for warm linings, children’s pyjamas and warm bed linen. It is machine washable and best ironed with a hot iron on the wrong side of the fabric.
Calico, is a course fabric with a plain weave. It is often used to test patterns for sizing. Calico can be machine washed and needs a hot iron.
Poplin is a tightly woven fabric and easy to sew. It is very versatile and makes up into shirts, dresses, and blouses. Poplin may be pure cotton or a polyester blend. Poplin is machine washable and should be pressed with a pressing cloth and a hot iron.
Quilting cotton is also known as patchwork print or craft cotton. Quilting cotton can be used for many different projects including clothing, home decor and small sewing projects. It is a closely woven fabric which is machine washable and needs a warm iron.
Chambray is an easy to sew, hard wearing fabric. It is usually light blue in color and looks like denim, but is lighter weight. Chambray makes up beautifully into shirts, dresses, blouses and children’s clothing. It can be machine washed and needs a hot iron.
Cotton velvet is a cotton fabric with a silky pile on the right side. This pile brushes smoothly in one direction. It is an expensive fabric needing to be dry cleaned. Use a warm iron on the wrong side with a pressing cloth and steam only to keep the pile soft and fluffy.
Chino can be called drill and is a strong fabric with a twill weave and slight shine. Chino is usually beige, navy or black. It makes up well into work clothes, trousers, and uniforms needing to be hard-wearing. Chino is machine washable in hot water and needs a hot iron.
Chintz is a hard-wearing fabric with a close weave. Chintz is made up of florals, bright colors and patterns. It is mainly used for soft furnishings. The fabric is dry cleanable and should be ironed on the wrong side with a warm iron.
Moleskin, a medium to heavyweight fabric with a fine nap on one side. This creates a soft brushed texture. Moleskin makes up into skirts, trousers and jackets. It can be machine washed and ironed on the wrong side with a warm iron.
Sateen or Satin
Sateen, or satin is a soft cotton with a smooth texture and a sheen on the top. It makes up beautifully into dresses and skirts. Sateen may be machine washed and ironed on the wrong side with a warm iron.
Ticking is a strong twill weave types of cotton fabric. Ticking is woven in stripes. Usually dark blue, red or green on a cream background. It is a cotton or cotton blend and used for mattress covers. Ticking is also popular for aprons and cushions as well as bags. It is machine washable and needs a hot iron on the wrong side while it is still damp.
Damask has a satin weave mixed with cotton to create patterns in the fabric. It has a slight shine because of the satin used in the weave. Damask is used for soft furnishings and table linen. It has been used for jackets too. The fabric needs to be dry cleaned or hand washed and pressed with a warm iron on the wrong side.
Heavy Weight Types of Cotton
Toweling a very absorbent fabric that is made with uncut loops of thread on the surface. Towelling is ideal for beachwear and towels and makes beautiful bath robes. It washes well in a machine and needs a hot iron.
Canvas is a plain weave, durable cotton. Canvas is very strong and used to make sails. Softer versions of canvas make bags, tunics and outdoor furnishings. Canvas can be machine washed and needs a hot iron. It is best to iron while it is still damp.
Corduroy can be called cord, baby cord and needle cord. This fabric is known for the ribs or cords in the weave. The number of ribs per inch on the fabric are known as wales. The lower the wale number the thicker the width of the wale. A 4-wale is thicker than an 11-wale. Corduroy is a warm fabric with the ridges running lengthwise. It can be machine washed and ironed with a warm to hot iron on the wrong side of the material.
Denim is a heavyweight fabric that can be medium to heavyweight. It is used for hard-wearing work clothes, jeans and outdoor furnishings. It is durable and washes well. The color may run so it is important to wash denim separately.
Types of Cotton - In Conclusion
Cotton from the cotton plant is grown all over the world. The fibers come from one of the best natural resources and nothing goes to waste. The ball is made into the cotton fabric, the seeds are used for animal feed, cotton seed makes oil and the stalks go back into the soil for the next crop. When you buy types of cotton you are contributing to the manufacture of one of nature's best natural resources.