With an equal weave, there are significant differences of quality among the fabrics of same material. And it’s true as well within 100% cotton fabrics.
Indeed, the quality of the fabric depends a lot on the length of the cotton staples. Staples have a length that varies between short (25mm / 1″ or below) and extra-long (35mm / 1.5″ and more). This will have a strong impact on the spinning and the yarn; when the staples are longer, there will be fewer weak / fragile areas (all those bonds between fibers), the fibers will be better intertwined; the yarn will be more solid. And then, since more solid, the yarn can also be made thiner.
So, when the staples are very long, then, the fabric is:
- more durable, because the cotton can be spinned more thinly, then more densely weaved;
- softer, because the fibers are intertwined on a longer distance, what also results in having less fiber ends getting out of the yarn, and thus makes the yarn smoother;
- more breathable; in fact, when the weaving is denser, tighter, there are fewer “air pockets” in the fabric.
- more durable, more solid vs washing
- more resisting to creasing, wrinkling, distorsions. Even if you pull it (except if jersey / stretchable).
As a result, the item made with such a fabric will be nicer to wear, for longer.
How to evaluate the quality of a cotton fabric?
- A top quality cotton has a rather silky touch-feel (except if weaved to have a specific texture), soft like a caress.
- Zero lint, even tiny – it’s smooth (except of course for a fleece);
- With a dense weaving; what you can simply assess by placing the fabrics near a lamp bulb: even if the fabric is thin, the light shall not go though (except, of course, for mesh, gauze, ….),
- With an even weave (ie without free space) and an even yearn – again except if irregularities are a part of the design;
After, other elements will be of importance, like the quality of the dye, the choices of colors, the appeal of the print, etc.