Is cotton the best fabric?

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When I was a kid , there was a very tall cotton tree in one of my neighbors backyard with  fruits which looked like long mangoes. I was very fascinated with the fruits and thought that must give a lot of cotton. When the fruits ripen, they open up and a  silky white fur  is visible. I knew it was a cotton plant  but only later  did I come to know the real cotton from which the cotton fabric is made is a small plant. The cotton on these plants, when ready to harvest look like small balls of cotton candy. Imagine the amount of work that goes into creating this cotton fabric that everyone all over the world love to wear. Well, at least in the olden days when it was all manual labor, now with the automated machinery the time taken to harvest it has come down drastically. It is still one of the best  fabrics available even after all the technological advancements in fabric.

 

The cotton fibers are formed around the seed. After harvesting, the  seeds are removed from the cotton fiber. A single cotton fiber is not strong, but when multiple cotton fibers are combined together they are strong and they form  a smooth thread which can be used for woven and coloring.  Cotton is used in textiles to produce all the different types of fabrics,both natural and mixed. Cotton is a non-food agricultural commodity, so it has been cultivated and traded all around the world and has significant commercial value. Cotton grows in dry regions of tropics such as India, Pakistan ,China and non-tropics of Africa,  Australia and America.

 

Why is Cotton such a popular fabric?

Cotton is one of the best fabrics in the world. It is a product of great commercial viability and has been in use since ages. It has undergone many treatments and additions as the world changed to suit our requirements. Polyester was added to cotton to make it more wrinkle free as Cotton wrinkles very soon. But this blend has its own faults as the fabric has a different texture and not as breathable.  So a lot of people have reverted back to liking the 100% cotton fabric. Cotton fabrics are stronger when wet and holds about 30 times its weight of water.   It can be bleached to a complete white though repeated use does make it lose the whiteness.  It can be dyed very easily too. the fabric is very strong and can be boiled and treated but doesn't disintegrate. It withstands high temperatures and so usually requires  high temperatures when ironing them.

 

Cotton is treated to get different varieties. Mercerized cotton is permanently straightened out fabric which has a uniform  and lustrous appearance. There are two kinds of weaves, the plain weave which produces in fabrics like percale,chambray and the twill weave which result in Khakis,gabardine and denim kind of fabric.

muslin, is  a sheer fabric which is dyed in many colors and  is very popular.

Organdy, is a  transparent,stiff  and thin cotton fabric.

Percale, is closely woven  cotton fabric.

Pima cotton, or Egyptian cotton is a very fine cotton fabric

polished cotton, is treated chemically to give it a satin finish.

It can be blended with linen, wool, polyester,satin to give different kind of look and feel which makes it a very versatile fabric along with a good visual appeal.