Cotton Fabric

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cotton Fabric


a woven fabric made of cotton yarns or yarns produced from a blend of cotton and chemical fibers or obtained by weaving cotton and chemical or mixed threads.

The use of cotton fiber and the hand production of yarn and fabric from cotton was widespread in India and China many centuries before the Common Era. Cotton fabrics did not become known in Western Europe until the Crusades. Cottage production began in Europe in the 14th century, mostly for fabrics with a linen warp and cotton weft; cotton fabrics were frequently imported from the East Indies. In the 1770’s, as a result of improvements in the spinning frame, machine production of cotton fabrics was initiated in Great Britain. However, the fabrics produced were fairly coarse and thick, and fine cottons continued to be imported. The first cotton textile plant was built in Manchester, Great Britain, in the late 18th century.

The production of cotton fabrics in Russia began later than other sectors of the textile industry, such as the weaving of linen and felted wool fabrics. Comparatively large cotton enterprises emerged in the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century—first chintz printing plants, then weaving, and later spinning plants. The first chintz printing factory appeared in 1755 as a privileged, monopoly enterprise of English merchants. It used imported cotton fabrics and Russian linens manufactured in small shops and in the villages. After the reform of 1861 the small shops were turned into factories producing various types of cotton fabrics. The growth rate in the production of cotton fabrics was quite high. Nonetheless, in 1913, Russia had one of the lowest outputs of cotton fabrics among the developed countries.

In the USSR the volume of cotton fabric production in 1975 was approximately 6.6 billion sq m—about 75 percent of the total volume of fabrics produced. The range of available cotton fabrics includes approximately 2,500 types. Fabrics are distinguished by structure, appearance, and purpose. All the basic types of weave are used in the production of cotton fabrics. Coarse, bleached, mercerized, single-color dyed, printed, color-woven, mélange, and raised fabrics are produced. Condensed yarn is used for napped fabrics, and fancy yarns with thickened sections and loops are used to produce various special effects.

Cotton fabrics are hygienic, strong, and resistant to wear, washing, and the effect of light, but they do not have required elasticity, that is, they stretch and become very wrinkled. Cotton fabrics are classified as domestic or industrial, depending on their purpose. Domestic fabrics account for approximately 80 percent of all cotton fabrics, including apparel (for undergarments, shirts, dresses, and suits), moisture-absorbing, and decorative fabrics.

Cotton fabrics for undergarments are produced primarily from carded and combed yarn, mostly with a plain weave. Heavy fabrics (100–165 g per sq m), such as bleached coarse calicoes and linens, are used for men’s underwear and sheets; lightweight fabrics (70–100 g per m sq), such as madapollam and calico, are used for women’s and children’s undergarments. Napped fabrics, such as flannel, are also used for children’s underwear. Shirt fabrics, such as poplin, piqué, and rep, are produced with basic and small-figured weaves using carded and combed cotton and cotton-viscose yarn (75 percent cotton and 25 percent viscose fiber), as well as viscose threads in the weft. Shirt fabrics weigh 100–250 g per sq m. Cotton dress fabrics, such as chintz, satin, plaids, and cotton flannellette, are produced with all types of weaves. The yarns may be cotton or cotton-viscose, carded or combed; viscose and acetate threads are used as well. The weight may range from 60 to 270 g per sq m, depending on the intended seasonal use. Cotton suit fabrics, such as knits, felted fabrics, and cotton diagonals, are made with plain, twill, and combination weaves from single and twist cotton and blended yarns containing up to 25 percent Kapron (polyamide) or Lavsan fibers. Their weight is 170–450 g per sqm.

Moisture-absorbing cotton fabrics are used for face and terry-cloth towels and for handkerchiefs. Towels are made from carded yarn and weigh 150–380 g per sq m. They hold moisture well because of the high hygroscopicity of the yarn and because of the waffle or pile weave used. Handkerchiefs are made from combed yarn with a plain weave. Decorative fabrics (tapestry, napped, and other types) are used to upholster furniture and manufacture drapes. They are made from twist yarns using plain, small-figured, and large-figured weaves, sometimes in combination with viscose yarn.

In addition to the cotton fabrics mentioned above, factories produce gauze, various types of industrial fabrics, packing and packaging fabrics, flannellette and summer blankets, bedspreads, and tablecloths. (See alsoFABRIC, WOVEN and TEXTILE INDUSTRY.)


Pozhidaev, N. N., D. F. Simonenko, and N. G. Savchuk. Materialy dlia odezhdy. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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