You might be surprised to learn that cotton is the most used fabric in the world. For many countries involved in the production of cotton, there is huge business activity with farms, factories and various enterprises, making it a multibillion pound industry. For the U.S economy alone, the revenue from cotton is more than $120 billion.
Cotton forms an essential part of our daily lives without us even realising. The towels we use to dry ourselves, the clothes we put on and the sheets we lie on at night. Not only is cotton used for household items and clothing, it’s also used widely in industrial products too.
Every part of the cotton plant is useful for some purpose. The fibres or lint are the most important part of the plant, and the part that’s used for making cloth. The linters, which are the fuzzy bits on the seeds are used in the production of explosives and plastics, for example. They are also used as padding for furniture, mattresses and car seats, as well as paper products.
To obtain the different parts of the plant, the seed is crushed and separated into three parts – the meal, the hull and the oil. The oil is used a dressing for salad and cooking oil, while the hulls and meal are used in animal feed and fertiliser. No part is wasted, as the stalks and leaves are ploughed back into the soil for nutrients.
If you’ve ever wondered how the cotton goes from plant to textile store, then here is the process:
Once the cotton is in from the fields, the bales are opened up by machine at a textile mill. The lint is beaten and blown to clean it and any short strands are removed for use in other industries. The top-quality lint are fibres of approximately 1-2 inches in length.
The fluffy cotton enters a carding machine which further cleans the fibres and lays them out flat in a combing motion. Once they are clean and straightened, the fibres form a rope of soft material called a sliver. Spinning frames take the sliver and turn it into yarn in an impressive rotation of 2,500 revolutions in one second. This creates the yarn used for making into fabrics. For your own high-quality White Cotton Fabric, visit http://www.higgsandhiggs.com/fabrics/plain-cotton-fabric.html
Looms then weave these yarns into a variety of different fabrics, similar to how the very first weaving machines operated but at a much faster pace. Loom machines interlace the warp and filling yarns to make woven fabrics known as ‘grey goods’. The woven fabric is then sent to be finished in a special plant. It is bleached and shrunk, then dyed into different colours, printed with any patterns required, and coated in a special finish before being made into a vast number of different everyday products. Scientists still continue to come up with ever-more efficient ways to produce the world’s most popular and oldest fibre.