Cotton fabric has been used for clothing as far back as 3000 B.C. It remains a popular fabric today because it can be made into different weights and types of fabric: batiste, jersey, flannel, terry, corduroy, twill, denim and duck.
The processing of cotton was streamlined in 1793 with Eli Whitney's cotton gin. This machine separates the cotton from the seed. In 1884, the power loom improved the manufacture of cotton fabric.
The cotton plant thrives in warm climates such as those in the southern United States, China, India, Brazil and Egypt.
Cotton grows in a round boll around the seeds of the cotton plant. The plant is thorny, which made picking painful for the picker until machines for this were developed in the 1930s.
Cotton is graded on three things: color or degree of whiteness, amount of foreign or plant matter in the cotton, and preparation of the fiber done by the gin.
Staple is the length of the fiber in cottom. Egyptian cotton is known for its long staple and is used for finer types of fabrics. Extra-long staple cotton is also used for thread.