Cotton facts you need to know about

Cotton is one of the most popular Dressmaking Fabrics for people looking to create their own garments. This is partly due to its versatile nature and also because it has been used in the textile industry for centuries. When sourcing your fabrics, you should use a reputable company to ensure that you get the best quality and value for money.

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There has been evidence of remnants of cotton cloth found on the outskirts of some caves in Mexico that after being analysed are thought to have originated from over 7,000 years ago. Further historic evidence and written and illustrative evidence have shown that in around 3,000 BC cotton was being grown in both Egypt and Pakistan and was used for creating clothing. Other key dates include the 1500s when Columbus found that the cotton being grown in the Bahamas area was being shipped and imported into other areas around the world. In 1793 Eli Whitney put a patent application in for his Cotton Gin which sped up the processing of cotton and it was thought that as a result of using this cotton was processed at around ten times faster than done by hand.

There are many variations on the basic cotton fabric but there are in essence three main weave options:

  • Plain – which includes broadcloth
  • Twill – which includes denim
  • Satin – which includes sateen
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When buying cotton fabrics, it is sometime wise to buy slightly more than you need as it can shrink lightly once washed. This is why you find some garments no longer fit once you have washed them and is also why it is a good idea to wash, dry and press your fabric before you cut the pattern pieces out. A good rule of thumb is that the tighter the weave of the material the less shrinkage that will occur when the garment is washed. Garments that are going to permanently be in the line of the sun should be baked with another light weight fabric as cotton has a tendency to fade when it is subjected to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.

A true 100% cotton fabric is breathable and also retains its shape and weight when wet and is a popular choice for summer weather clothing. A cotton and polyester blend will not have the same qualities and so will be less suitable during the warmer weather or for holiday clothing if you are heading to an exotic climate.