Cotton Terms


Carding removes dirt and matter and then separates the fibers and roughly lines them up so they all lie in the same direction. This process eliminates any fibers too short to be spun into yarn.

Combed Cotton
This is an additional step beyond carding where fine brushes are used to pull out any remaining impurities. Approximately 15% of the volume is removed leaving behind only long straight fibers. The texture of combed cotton is softer because it lacks short fibers to stick out. Combed cotton is also stronger because weaker fibers have been removed. As the combing process removes volume and adds a step in the process the resulting textile will be slightly more costly.

Dobby Loom
Produces plain weave cloth or geometric, stripes etc.

Grams per square meter

A machine used for weaving

This is used to describe a process of treating a thread, yarn or fabric to increase its luster on the surface of the fabric and its colour retention and durability. The fabric is immersed in sodium hydroxide and then neutralized in acid. This causes the fiber to permanently swell and increases strength by up to 25%.

Pick or (weft)
A filling yarn that runs crossways between selvages.

A tangled ball of fibers that appear on the surface of a fabric as a result of wear or continued friction or rubbing of the surface of the cloth.

A synthetic chemical compound applied to a fabric to give non – iron / easy care properties.

Is a process where the cloth goes through a machine with drums filled with hot steam. This process is done to control shrinkage of the fabric.

Shrinkage (Cotton)
Warp and weft usually shrink at different rates. An average cotton product will shrink 6 -8% after washing at high temperature. Lower washing at 30/40ºC will cause less shrinkage

A process to burn off protracting fibers from the body of the fabric, to give a smooth surface. Cotton is by nature a hairy product.

Warp yarns are coated with a sizing compound or starch mixture before weaving. The reason is to make the yarn smoother and stronger to withstand the strain of weaving. It can also increase fabric weight.

A fabric is passed through a machine called a stenter to smooth out the fabric, because after bleaching the cloth gets creased and wrinkled. This also controls the finished width of the fabric by tension.

Warp (also known as the ends)
Warping is the processing of creating the base yarn that runs top to bottom on woven cloth

Weft (also known as picks)
The weft yarns are woven in from side to side.

A term applied to a yarn or fabric that is made up of more than one fiber or two different yarns are twisted or spun together. In textile rental the most common blended yarns are cotton/polyester.

A natural fiber that grows in the seed pod of a cotton plant. Fibers are usually ½” to 2″ inches long. The longest staple fibers longer than 1½” including Pima & Egyptian produce the highest quality cotton fabrics.

A patterned design produced on a jacquard loom.

Egyptian cotton
Egyptian grown cotton with extra long staple cotton produced in the Nile delta.

The term to describe an unfinished fabric – or loom state. Cotton is naturally a cream colour not white.

Woven fabrics manufactured by using a jacquard attachment to a loom. This provides individual control of the warp yarns to achieve more complex designs.

A closely woven fabric that’s smooth, firm, mid-weight and fine. Usually made of cotton from a minimum of 180 threads per square inch.

A blend of polyester and cotton

A manufactured fiber derived from coal, air water and petroleum. Polyester fibers are formed from a chemical reaction between acid and alcohol.

Satin Weave
A basic weave but the yarns are interlaced in such a manner that creates a smooth somewhat shiny surface is achieved.

Yarn Count
Yarns are usually graded using a number 16’s 18’s 20’s 24’s 30’s 40’s 60’s. The higher the number the finer the yarn. Individual yarns can be twisted together. Two finer yarns twisted together in spinning are stronger than one thick yarn. This is called ‘two fold yarns’.

Thread Count
The quality of bed linen is often conveyed by the thread count (TC)
It is calculated by counting the number of threads per square inch of the fabric in both directions. The number of threads is the total of threads in the warp is added to the number of threads in the weft. (i.e. 110 x 90) = 200 TC

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