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What is a Top Quality Cotton? How to assess?

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.

Savoir reconnaitre la qualité d'un coton

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.

 

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