Cotton has been used as a fabric for making clothes for many centuries, it is one of the most versatile, traditional, and popular fabrics available.
It is a natural material, made by twisting together the long , fibrous hairs that cover the seed pods of the cotton plant. These fibres vary in length and thickness, and have an absorbent quality, making cotton both soft and comfortable to wear. The longest, finest, and most lustrous fibres make the best-quality cottons, such as Sea Island and Egyptian. Cotton varies greatly in weight and quality, ranging form lightweight, loosely woven sheers to heavy, napped fabrics such as velvet. Other fibres, such as silk, are often blended with cotton to produce durable, mixed-fibre fabrics.
Many easy-care, crease-resistant fabrics are blends of cotton and synthetic fibres. Cotton fabrics are widely used for dressmaking, as well as for bed linen, upholstery, and other soft furnishings.
Here are some of the many types of cotton fabrics:
The quality of jersey varies. A good-quality jersey has fine, knit stitches, drapes well, and is crease-resistant. It is used for sportswear, dresses, and T-shirts.
A lightweight, plain-weave, strong fabric with even checks, gingham is often used for blouses, skirts, children’s clothes, and table linen.
The lightweight, plain-weave fabric creases easily and is woven in different colours to form checks or patterns. It is used most for making casual clothes.
Chambray is a light to medium weight, plain-weave fabric. It is easy to sew and wears well. It is often used for shirts and children’s wear.
This is closely woven, plain-weave fabric with a glazed finish. It wears well and is used mainly for soft furnishings and dresses.
A fin and cross-rib, medium weight fabric with a plain weave, poplin is both versatile and absorbent. It is used mainly for shirts, blouses, and dresses.
This is a lightweight fabric woven with alternating stripes of puckered fabric and flat fabric. It is often used for shirts, suits, and children’s clothes.
A lightweight, crisp, and plain-weave fabric, lawn is smooth and absorbent. It is often used for sewing blouses, soft collars, cuffs, baby dresses, and underwear.
This cotton-blend or cotton fabric has a plain, open weave. It is used as an interlining in tailoring, for window treatments, and when sewing test garments.
Also called crepon, this is pure cotton but may contain other fibres. It is soft and absorbent, and comfortable to wear. It is used mostly for dresses and blouses.
This is a transparent mesh fabric with large holes formed between thick, interlinking threads. It is used for vests, fashion garments, and laundry bags.
A fine and sheer fabric with a plain weave, voile can be either plain or printed. It is often used for children’s clothes, blouses, dresses, blinds, and curtains.
This decorative fabric is made from knotted, looped, or twisted thread. It is used as a trimming on items such as dresses, curtains, and table linen.
A fine, smooth, firm, plain-weave fabric that is closely woven, cambric is often used for children’s and baby clothes, blouses, and handkerchiefs.
A soft, loosely woven fabric, cheesecloth has a plain weave, a rough finish, and a crinkled appearance. It is used mainly for blouses, shirts, skirts, and nightwear.
A plain-weave cotton or cotton-synthetic mix, this fabric has shaped, embroidered eyelets punched in it, and is used for dresses, nightwear, and table linen.
This is a coarse, lightweight fabric that has a plain weave. It is used for mattress covers and sheeting. It is also used in tailoring to make test garments.
A double-sided, woven fabric, damask has a satin weave against a plain background. It is used mainly for jackets, waistcoats, curtains, linens, and upholstery.
This is a strong and washable, densely woven, twill-weave fabric. It is used mainly for casual clothes such as jeans, jackets, shirts, and work clothes.
This twill-weave cotton or cotton blend fabric has even stripes. It is used mostly for covering pillows and mattresses, as well as for making soft furnishings.
A mediumweight, firm fabric, moleskin has a fine nap on one side, giving a brushed surface. It is used mainly for casual shirts, dungarees, and children’s trousers.
This is a soft and warm, brushed cotton fabric with a plain weave. It is easy to handle and is commonly used for bed linen and nightwear. It is highly flammable.
This is a strong, cotton fabric with a twill weave. When dyed and olive colour, it is known as khaki. It is often used for uniforms, casual wear, and work clothes.
This fabric has uncut loops of cotton on the surface. High-quality toweling has loops on both sides of the fabric. It is used mainly for towels and bathrobes.
A hardwearing fabric, corduroy has lengthways ribs of pile that brush smoothly one way. Ribs vary in size. It is often used for shirts, sportswear, and children’s clothes.
This warm, plain or printed cotton has surface fibres that are brushed on one side. It is used mostly for casual shirts, warm linings, and children’s clothes.
Velvet is a woven fabric with a silky pile or nap on the right side. The pile brushed smoothly one way. It is often used for evening wear and soft furnishings.