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The History Of Cotton

Cotton is one of the most commonly used and most versatile fabrics on the market. It has been around for as long as people can remember but no one knows exactly how old cotton is. History tells us that in the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, cotton was being grown, spun and woven into cloth in 3000 years B.C. and around the same time natives of Egypt’s Nile Valley were making and wearing cotton clothing.

By 800 A.D. Arabs had introduced cotton to Europe and when Columbus discovered America in 1492, he found cotton growing in the Bahamas. It was in 1500 that cotton grew to popularity across the world. It was in England in 1730 that cotton was first spun on machinery, the rise of the industrial revolution in England and the invention of the cotton gin – a machine that separates cotton from its seeds, in the U.S. allowed cotton to become the fabric it is today.

Yorkshire Fabric Shop The History Of Cotton

Typically growing in warmer climates, most of the world’s cotton comes from the U.S., Uzbekistan, China and India with Brazil, Pakistan and Turkey heavily contributing. Once the cotton has been harvested, it needs to be separated from all of the debris. The harvested cotton is stored in large blocks. The blocks are fed into the gins and are cleaned to remove all waste such as dirt, stems and leaf material.

The remaining cotton fibres and seeds are separated; the seed can then be sold for feed or to oil mills. The cotton fibre, which is now called Lint, is pressed together to form bales weighing approximately 200kg. Measurements are taken, such as the length of the fibre, strength, colour and cleanliness to determine the value of the cotton. The best cotton consists of fibres that are 1 inch to 1 ¾ inches long.

Yorkshire Fabric Shop The History Of Cotton

Sliver is made by straightening and cleaning the fibres. This yarn is a soft, untwisted rope. Yarn is made directly from the sliver. It is place on a spinning frame which takes fibres from the sliver and rotates it very quickly into a twist. The resulting yarn can then be used for weaving and knitting fabrics.
Looms are then used to weave these yarns into fabrics. This is done by interlacing the lengthwise yarns and crosswise yarns. This woven fabric is called grey goods and is sent to a finishing plant where it is bleached to its more recognisable white, pre-shrunk, dyed, printed and given a special finish. This is all before it can be made into clothing or home textiles!

Cotton is used more than any other fibre. From the bed sheets that you sleep in to the towel that you use when you get out of the shower, even our jeans and shoelaces. Cotton is a very important fabric in our day-to-day lives. At Yorkshire Fabric Shop we are passionate about all fabrics, but we have a fantastic cotton selection, as it is so versatile we have a great range of patterns and designs to suit your style.

Yorkshire Fabric Shop The History Of Cotton

With a range of handmade cushions and made-to-measure curtains available, we are confident that we have the fabric to suit your home. Take a look at our easy-to-use fabric finder to find that perfect fabric or come and visit our warehouse. With free samples available you can colour match your choice before making a purchase. Contact our friendly team on 01924 728 753 or email


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