What You Need to Know About: Different Types of Cotton

Cotton fabric is one of the most used and well-known fabrics in the world. It has a myriad uses, benefits, and are part of various products from clothes and table runners to shawls and other accessories.

The population of cotton comes from the fact that it is soft but strong at the same time, making them very comfortable to wear. It is also very breathable and is easy to blend with other fabrics. Cotton is also fairly absorbent, while being able to retain most dyes. Despite its softness, however, cotton is also very durable, making it the choice fabric for clothing.

Despite what people think, there are actually dozens of different types of cotton fabrics to choose from, with each one being fit for different types of uses. Here are some different types of cotton fabrics:

Bark Cloth

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A slightly textured version of cotton fabric, bark cloth is made from 100% cotton and is mostly used for unlined clothing like skirts and jackets, thanks to its rugged look. Its named ‘bark cloth’ because of its resemblance to the bark of trees.

Brushed Cotton

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A type of cotton fabric that is brushed on the surface of clothing to remove unnecessary fibers or lint, brushed cotton is extra soft and smooth, making it perfect for clothes like flannel.

Canvas

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A blended fabric made from cotton, linen, or both, canvas is one of the most durable types of cotton fabric.

Challis

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A type of cotton fabric that is lightweight, woven, and comes in either a single color or small prints. It’s commonly made from wool or rayon, but cotton challis is the choice fabric for clothes thanks to its silky finish. Cotton challis can easily be dyed without worrying too much about bleeding colors, making it perfect for machine washing.

Charmeuse

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Charmeuse is a type of cotton fabric that is lightweight, soft, and is usually blended with a satin weave. It has a semi-lustrous satin finish with a dull matte backing. Charmeuse is very soft and drapable, and combines the shininess of silk with the softness of cotton.

Chino

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A twill weave made from durable cotton fabric, chino fabric has a distinct sheen that has made it popular with clothing brands. Originally used in England for military uniforms, Chinos can stand up to wear-and-tear with ease and requires only minimal care.

Combed cotton

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Combed cotton is the Cadillac of cotton fabrics. Combed cotton refers to cotton fabrics that have the highest thread counts, thus making them the cotton fabrics with the highest possible quality. The fabric gets its name from the way its processed, where the cotton is “combed” to remove short and extra fibers.

Corduroy

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Often made of cotton, corduroy is thick, ribbed, and used for clothing that will go through more-than-normal wear-and-tear. The name comes from its distinct vertical ribs which looked like tufted cords. This is made by twisting fibers parallel to one another with channels in between the ribs.

Damask

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A type of fabric that is made from woven cotton, silk, linen, synthetic fibers, or wool, damask is glossy, reversible, and usually comes with elaborate patterns. Often used as tableware, upholstery coverings, curtains, and even napkins.

Denim

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One of the most recognizable types of cotton fabric, denim is a heavyweight, rugged, coarse, and durable fabric that is twill-woven and warp faced. While it is very durable, it doesn’t stretch nor drape very well, which is why it’s usually used for pants.

Egyptian Cotton

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A finely woven cotton fabric that uses high-quality cotton from Egypt, Egyptian Cotton boasts having the longest and strongest fibers out of all other cotton fabrics. Egyptian Cotton is legendary for its softness and is a highly-sought after luxury item.

French Terry

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A looped type of cotton fabric that is very absorbent, French terry is very popular in sportswear, thanks to its moisture absorption properties.

Gingham

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A type of cotton fabric that is plainly woven with stripes or checked-in white and a bold color, Gingham is a popular fabric for clothes thanks to its middleweight and softness. The word comes from the Malay “gingang”, which means striped. Gingham Cloths are very popular because of their colored square patterns.

Khakhi

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A Tan-colored fabric with a warped face and a twill weave, khaki is most often made of cotton, although it can also be made of linen, wool, synthetic fibers, or a blend of those with cotton.

Moleskin

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A variety of fustian cloth that uses heavy cotton, moleskin has a large number of its picks raised prior to dying, giving it a brushed looking surface. It’s soft like felt, which is why it’s usually used for workmen or athletes.

Muslin

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Usually bleached and undyed, muslin is a medium-weight, plain-woven type of cotton fabric (or, sometimes, cotton and polyester). It comes in a wide variety of sheeting and sheers, making them very economical and versatile.

Oxford cloth

Soft, thick, and highly durable, this type of cotton fabric can either be plain or basket woven. It has a silk-like luster and finish, and is often used to create shirts. Oxford cloth is characterized by its thin, narrow stripes.

Percale

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Percale is a closely woven plain-weave type of cotton fabric. It is smooth, fine, of medium weight, and firm. It usually has a 180 thread count per square inch.

Pima Cotton

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Second only to Egyptian Cotton in terms of fineness, Pima cotton is a type of cotton fabric that has long, luxurious fibers that resist piling and are fairly durable.

Poly Cotton

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A type of cotton fabric that blends cotton and polyester, polycotton combines the best of both worlds: it has polyesters resistance to wrinkles and cotton’s color retention properties. Often used in the production of wrinkle-free shirts.

Quilting Cotton

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Quilting cotton is often 100% cotton, with no other fibers blended into it. It is medium-weight, soft, and durable. It often comes printed and is used to sew quilts, dresses, skirts, and even tops.

Ringspun Fabric

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Softer and more durable than ordinary cotton fibers, ringspun fabric gets its name from its processing: it is spun prior to knitting, which allows the short hairs of the cotton to stand out, which gives it extra strength and a significantly softer feel.

Terrycloth

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Used for towels and bath robes, terrycloth is a highly absorbent knit fabric with plush loop piles on one side to help it absorb as much moisture as possible.

Velour

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A type of cotton fabric that is similar to velvet, velour is plush knit and medium-weight. It also has a dense and close pile with a sheen. It’s often used in sportswear, evening wear, and even upholstery.

A Word of Caution

However, cotton isn’t all pros; it has its fair share of cons, namely its propensity to shrinkage. Although cotton does retain most colors, the wrong kind of dye will often bleed out if not washed properly. Cotton also wrinkles fairly easily, although if blended with other fabrics, like silk or polyester, many of these cons get sorted out.

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