How is cotton spun?

processing

From cotton to fabric

The cotton harvest is stored for about 30 days to ripen and dry. Black seeds, which are sometimes sticky, still hang on the fibers. Pieces of the woody fruit capsules and leaves may be stuck in the fibers. First of all, a gin combs out the debris and the seed fluff (linters). What remains are the long cotton fibers, which are covered by a thin wax skin that protects the fibers from moisture. Yarns and fabrics made from raw cotton are therefore water-repellent. Usually, however, the wax is removed so that the cotton can develop one of its best properties: its high absorbency. From 100 kg of raw cotton you get around 35 kg of fibers, 62 kg of seeds and three kg of waste.

In the spinning mill, a carding machine compresses the individual cotton fibers into ribbons, from which the spinning machine twists the cotton yarn by twisting and pulling the cotton. Because cotton fibers are twisted like corkscrews, they are easy to spin: their curves interlock tightly, even though the fibers actually have a smooth surface. The finished yarn is then dyed and finally woven into fabrics.

Raw cotton is more valuable the longer the fibers are (staple length). Because long fibers can be twisted more evenly into yarn, which is then particularly fine. The value is also determined by the color and gloss. Because cotton is harvested in different shades: from white to cream, grayish to brown. Expensive cotton has long fibers, is light and shiny.

The textile production chain

As soon as the cotton leaves the farmer, it enters the textile production chain and is usually on a long journey. The cotton may be harvested in India and spun into yarn, woven in China, dyed in the Philippines and sewn into a garment in Bangladesh. Finally, in an Eastern European country, the finished clothing could be provided with labels, the manufacturer's label and the price tag. It would just as well be possible for the cotton to stop off in Thailand, Pakistan, Morocco or some other country with low labor costs.