Q:

How is cotton made into fabric?

A:

Quick Answer

Cotton goes from balls of fiber on a plant to fabric through a multi-step mechanical process. In this process, the cotton fibers, known as lint, are separated from seed, then into lengths and eventually spun into yarn that is used to knit or weave fabric.

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How is cotton made into fabric?
Credit: Gloria Cabada-Leman CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

After it is picked, cotton goes through a mechanical separation process known as ginning in which cotton fiber is separated and baled. These bales are then taken to a textile mill, where the bales are separated in order to facilitate carding. Carding is a process by which cotton lint is cleaned and straightened, resulting in a thin strand known as a silver. The silver is then spun into yarn, which is used to weave or knit cotton fabric.

This process of creating cotton fabric from unprocessed natural cotton is very similar to the techniques used in the days before the industrial revolution. The main difference is the use of machines in every step of production, from picking and sorting the cotton to ginning, baling, carding, weaving and knitting. In fact, the mechanized weaving looms that are used to create cotton fabrics are very similar in design and concept to the looms that were used by hand weavers.

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