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  • Image courtesy: Ujjwal Aggarwal

    History of Cotton

    600 BC
    World History: Buddhism was formed and the first grammar (in Sanskrit) was introduced.
    Cotton History: Rig Veda was written with categorical mention about growth and use of cotton in India.

    326 BC
    World History: Alexander the Great reached the northwestern frontier of India, his final conquest.
    Cotton History: Cotton traveled to Europe and Mediterranean regions with Alexander’s soldiers.

    200 AD
    World History: The Mayan civilization was formed.
    Cotton History: India started trading cotton to the Parthians and Chinese as luxury item.

    220 AD
    World History: Rome received its first foreign delegation from India.
    Cotton History: Cotton cultivation was promoted by Han dynasty in China.

    500 AD
    World History: The legend of King Arthur was born.
    Cotton History: Turkmenistan started cotton farming.

    1200 AD
    World History: The Mongols were defeated in China.
    Cotton History: Mongols encouraged people to grow cotton. Marco Polo mentions cotton as an important product from Persia in his journal.

    World History: Columbus discovered America.
    Cotton History: Italians started to produce cotton for themselves in cities like Genoa and other north Italian cities.

    World History: Copernicus claimed that the sun is at the center of the solar system rather than the earth.
    Cotton History: Spanish conquest of Mexico introduced them to cotton.

    World History: The construction of the Taj Mahal commenced.
    Cotton History: Persian cotton farming expanded.

    World History: St. Petersburg in Russia was founded.
    Cotton History: British Empire banned import and manufacture of clothes made of cotton.

    World History: England invaded Egypt.
    Cotton History: Cotton looms were mechanized.

    World History: Anesthesia was used in a medical procedure for the first time.
    Cotton History: America replaced India as the primary source for cotton in the world.

    World History: John.F. Kennedy became the president of United States of America.
    Cotton History: Employment opportunity fell in cotton industry as machines started replacing people.

    World History: The best selling computer game was released, PAC-MAN.
    Cotton History: Africa’s share in cotton doubled in the world trade.

    World History: LTTE was defeated in Sri Lanka by the government forces.
    Cotton History: Cotton trade crossed the $10 Billion annual figure.

    World History: China overtakes US as world's biggest grocery market.
    Cotton History: China is the world’s largest cotton producer, consumer and importer.

  • Image courtesy: Debabrata Nandi

    Caring for Cotton

    • More detergent does not mean cleaner clothes. In fact, excess soap can even damage cotton garments beyond repair, at the very least provide sites for dirt to attach itself to the fabric. Make it a point to follow your detergent manufacturers instructions for recommended amounts to use when laundering.
    • Please, for your favorite T-shirts sake, follow care label directions for washing and drying temperatures. Always avoid using extremely hot temperatures, this will help you reduce shrinkage.
    • Hand wash in a good soft detergent or machine wash on a soft cycle. Wash your clothes inside out to prevent the color from fading. Try not to use bleach as it can weaken the cotton fibers. If, you must, use sparingly. Do not use silicon based fabric softeners. Silicon is a water repellent and will leave a waxy film on your clothes during the drying process.
    • Make sure stains are thoroughly removed before placing garments in the dryer. Dryer heat sets stains. Keep away from direct sunlight to prevent fading or discoloration. Use spray starch or a steam iron after wash. Wash whites and colored clothes separately. Let your whites stay white. Avoid using bleach when washing. And bleach does not always make whites whiter. If you are unlucky, a white shirt may even turn a dirty yellow or grey.
    • Make sure you read the wash instructions on the labels of your clothes. Theyare your best guides. Yellow stains may form on your clothes due to constant usage of antiperspirants. Apply fresh lemon juice to the stains, soak for 30 minutes and then rinse with cool water. Wash with a mild detergent and chlorine bleach. In case of stubborn yellowing, pre - soak for several hours in water with bleach.
    • Avoid washing towels with items that have zippers, hooks or buttons. These can pull the loops out of the terry cloth. Hang towels fully extended on the clothes line for ventilation and quick drying between uses. This will mean fewer washes and a longer life for your towels. Many a time we dump moist towels in the laundry basket to wash later. This is a very bad idea because this spreads mould and bacteria. If you want to keep your towels soft, use half the recommended amount of detergent and never pour the detergent directly on your towels. And always make sure that you have fully rinsed out the soap after each wash.
    • Over use of fabric softener can reduce the absorbance of towels. Use every second or third rather than every wash cycle.
  • Image courtesy: Siddharth Dasari

    Cotton Facts

    • Cotton has been cultivated in many different parts of the world for more than 5,000 years. Cotton is the most popular fabric and best selling fabric in the world.
    • Cotton is good for all seasons because it keeps the body cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
    • Man has been making cotton into fabric since at least 3000 BC.
    • Cotton can be grown in several different colors, including brown, rust, and even light purple. Cotton is a member of the Mallow family of plants.
    • The word cotton originates from the Arabic word "qutun".
    • American paper currency is made of 75% cotton.
    • The first light bulb manufactured by Thomas Edison used cotton filament.
    • A 480 pound bale of cotton can be made into 313,600 $100 bills!
    • The first Chinese paper was made of cotton fibre.
    • Cotton seeds are tough enough to survive travel across oceans on the wind.
    • Shiny cotton is a processed version of the fiber that can be made into cloth resembling satin for shirts and suits.
    • In ancient Egypt, only the High Priest was allowed to wear cotton garments.
    • The largest producers of cotton, currently, are China and India, with annual production of about 34 million bales and 24 million bales, respectively; most of this production is consumed by their respective textile industries.
    • The five leading exporters of cotton in 2011 were
      • United States
      • India
      • Brazil
      • Australia
      • Uzbekistan
  • Image courtesy: Subir Basak


    Antique Satin - a satin with horizontal (weft) slubs which imitates spun shantung silk. It is 60% rayon (the face yarn fiber) and the 40% of acetate (the back yarn fiber). Often the warp and weft yarns are dyed with different colors to give an iridescent effect.

    Batik - is a dyeing method where the cloth is covered with wax designs. It is dipped into vegetable dye that dyes the uncovered cloth without melting the wax. The wax is removed with hot water after the design is finished.

    Brocade - a multi-use formal, Jacquard woven fabric with intricate raised woven designs resembling embroidery. It is often made with variety of thread colors depicting complex patterns and scenes with a shiny finish. Background weave is often satin. To the back of the fabric, the threads are not tied-down and are carried as "floaters".

    Brocatelle - a specific type of medium weight brocade utilizing four or more sets of threads, equally for warp and weft. It has large patterns in high relief to appear embroidered or puffy. It is woven finely for formal, refined and sophisticated wear.

    Calico - similar to broadcloth, made of cotton or cotton/polyester and usually printed in small "country" all-over with multi-colored floral patterns.

    Canvas - medium to heavy weight cotton fabric woven closely in plain or twill with relatively large threads. Available in variety of colors, stripes and few printed designs. It is also referred as "duck" or "sailcloth". It has many uses.

    Casement - a fabric for drapery either loose or tight, open or closed, plain or novelty weave. Given color, pattern and interesting texture through tyed complex-yarn arrangements and variations in weave. Usually it is semi-sheer, translucent or opaque.

    Chambray - made of cotton or linen, a lightweight fabric in plain, balanced weave using white threads across a colored wrap. Pronounced "sham-bray".

    Chevron - a regular and repeated zigzag pattern formed by reversing the twill weave. It is also known as herringbone.

    Crepe - a light soft thin fabric with a crinkled surface. It is made from silk, cotton, wool, or another fiber either in plain or satin weave.

    Damask - a formal satin base Jacquard fabric of linen, cotton, silk, or wool with reversible patterns. It is medium weight with variety in colors and patterns. Used in decorative fabric situation.

    Denim - a coarse twilled cloth, usually of cotton or cotton/polyester which is practical and sturdy. Navy colored is used as jeans fabric and cream or white is used as Drill.

    Embroidery - a surface ornamentation made with a thread or set of threads sewn onto a fabric.

    Finish - a substance or the mixture of substances added to textile materials to impart the desired properties.

    Flannel - a fabric woven and then brushed to achieve a soft nap. It is made of wool or a blend of wool and cotton or synthetics.

    Flock - a material obtianed by cutting or grinding textile fibers to fragments. There are two types of flock, precision cut flock, all fiber lengths are approximately equal and random cut flock, the fibers are ground or chopped to produce a broad range of lengths.

    Flocking - a method of ornamenting cloth with adhesive printed or coated on a fabric. Finely chopped fibers are applied by dusting, air-blasting or electrostatic attraction. The fibers adhere to the printed areas and it is removed manually from the unprinted areas.

    Herringbone - a regual zigzag pattern fabric with a novelty or complex twill weave. It is woven or printed on light-weight to heavy-weight fabrics.

    Houndstooth - a medium to heavy weight woven twill fabric designed with continuous broken checks or four-pointed stars resembling projecting "tooth-like" corners.

    Jacquard - a weaving system which utilizes a versatile pattern mechanism to permit the production of large and intricate patterns.

    Lisserie - a fine Jacquard woven stripe which imitates silk and embroidery. The different figures and colors in the pattern comes from the warp.

    Matelasse' - a heavy-weight upholstery textile in Jacquard weave with double sets of warps and wefts. The surface appears to be puffy or cushioned and is also known as double cloth.

    Ottoman - a heavy silk or rayon fabric with broad, round weft threads that produce a horizontal rib. Used for coats and trimmings.

    Peau de Soie - a soft and fine silk fabric of satin weave having ribbed or grained appearance. It is a French term which literally means "skin of silk".

    Pile fabric - a fabric with an extra warp or weft set, woven to produce a deep surface texture like velvet, terry cloth, frieze or corduroy.

    Pilling - fibers tendency to work loose from the fabric surface and form a balled or matted particles attached to the surface of the fabric.

    Plaid - a cloth having a crisscross design. The stripes in warp and weft directions cross at intervals to form different colors in square or rectangular patterns. It may be plain or twill weave.

    Plisse' - a blistered or puckered finish given to a sheer, thin or light-weight fabric with a caustic soda.

    Rep, Repp - rib woven fabric (horizontal or vertical ribs) between poplin and ottoman in rib size and weight. It is durable and medium to heavy-weight. Woven from cotton, wool, or silk.

    Satin - a basic type of weave with up to eight weft threads are tied down with one floating weft thread. It is light to medium-weight with glossy face and a dull back.

    Scrim - a durable, open weave sheer cotton fabric used for curtains or upholstery lining or in industry.

    Shantung dupioni - originally a spun silk fabric with slubs and forms interesting textures. Today, shantung may be of natural or synthetic fibers. Fabrics imitating shantung are antique satin and antique taffeta.

    Suede cloth - a light or medium-weight synthetic knit or woven textile with brushed nap imitating suede leather.

    Tapestry - a Jacquard woven with multiple warps and wefts creating various color patterns or scenes. Used as wall hangings for decoration or somtimes to cover furniture.

    Toile - a sheer fabric similar to muslin or percale in plain or twill weave obtained from cotton or linen.

    Tufted fabric - a pile fabric formed by tufting a yarn into a woven background. Example, some upholstery fabrics and all tufted carpets.

    Tweed - a coarse, rugged, and often nubby woolen fabric in plain balanced or variation (originally twill) weave. Used as casual suits and coats.

    Velour - a closely napped fabric with a soft, velvet-like texture, used for clothing and upholstery. It includes some velvet, and all plush-pile surface cloths.

    Velvet - a pile woven cotton, silk, and/or rayon fabric with a soft yet sturdy face. Very much like plush but with a shorter pile. The underside is plain.

    Voile - a light, plain-weave, sheer transparent fabric with tightly twisted yarns often having a stiff finish. Available in novelty effects like pique stripes, printed patterns and stripes. It is obtained from cotton, rayon, silk, or wool and used especially for making dresses and curtains.