Interesting and Educational Facts about Cotton
Learn some interesting and educational facts about cotton by clicking on the interactive question mark or links below. Can you guess how many yards of cotton are in every baseball? Do you know what civilization was the first to cultivate cotton? Where do the words “denim” and “khaki” come from? Explore below to learn the answers!
- When was Cotton First Cultivated?
- The Cotton Belt spans 17 states
- The U.S. is the World’s Largest Exporter of Cotton
- Cotton’s Role in the Industrial Revolution
- Cotton: a Bright Idea
- U.S. Paper Money is Made from Cotton, Too
- Hitting a Home Run with Cotton
- Cotton & the Wright Brothers
When was Cotton First Cultivated?
Cotton has been cultivated and used to make fabrics for at least 7,000 years, and may have existed in Egypt as early as 12,000 B.C.
The Cotton Belt spans 17 states
The Cotton Belt, a chain of the 17 states that grow cotton, spans the southern half of the United States, stretching from Virginia to California.
The U.S. is the World’s Largest Exporter of Cotton
Worldwide, China and India are the largest producers of cotton, while the U.S. remains the world’s largest exporter of cotton.
Cotton’s Role in the Industrial Revolution
Cotton has been cultivated in this country since the first settlers of Jamestown in 1607 began growing it for their clothing needs. It also played a key role in the birth of the American Industrial Revolution, when Samuel Slater built a textile mill in Pawtucket, RI full of spinning machines that could weave cotton fibers into yarn.
Cotton: a Bright Idea
Thomas Edison tried more than 1,000 different materials before deciding that charred cotton made the ideal filament for the very first light bulb.
U.S. Paper Money is Made from Cotton, Too
U.S. paper money is not actually made of paper at all; it’s actually a blend of 75% cotton and 25% linen.
Hitting a Home Run with Cotton
150 yards of cotton are contained in every baseball – and it’s in hotdogs, ice cream, potato chips, and even bologna!
Cotton & the Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers used cotton to cover the wings of their aircraft for the first powered flight in 1903.
Terrycloth is Favored for Towels
Terrycloth is favored for towels because cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water.
The History of Blue Jeans
The term “Denim” comes from a twilled cotton cloth that originated in France called “serge de Nîmes,” which was eventually contracted, and the pants were nicknamed “blue jeans.” Creator Levi Strauss and his business partner David Jacobs later added pockets and in 1873 received a patent for the use of rivets in the blue jeans for additional strength.
Wrinkle-resistant cotton is achieved by strengthening the molecular “bridges” that connect cellulose molecules in a cotton fiber. The special process stabilizes the hydrogen bridges. This permits the fabric to retain its smooth surface, even after numerous washings. The finish does not alter cotton’s durability, color clarity or natural absorbency.
Forever in Denim
Americans love their jeans; research from the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ shows that the average American owns about seven pairs.
A History of Corduroy
Corduroy, a pile fabric with a plain or twill weave and lengthwise ribs – called “wales” – alternating with valleys, known as “races,” debuted in the 1600’s in France. Because the sturdy and durable material was frequently worn by outdoor servants at Versailles, it was dubbed “cord du roi” or “cloth of the king.”
A “Dusty” Beginning
“Khaki” is derived from a Hindu word meaning “dust color.”
100% Cotton Bedding
When it comes to sheets, a higher thread count isn’t always better. Some companies began counting two yarns twisted together and inserted as one yarn in the fabric weave as two individual yarns, so what was previously sold as a two-ply 300 thread count sheet became a 600 thread count sheet. Look instead for 100% cotton bedding to be sure you are getting a soft, durable, and easy-care product.
Chinos: a Utilitarian Favorite
“Chino” has its roots in World War I, when the U.S. army purchased this durable cotton twill from China for use by soldiers in the Philippines. In the late 1950s, it was adapted by men and boys for school and general wear, particularly for pants.
Seersucker may be associated with preppiness today, but it has very exotic roots; it originates from the Persian words “shir o shekar,” meaning “milk and sugar,” likely due to the fabric’s smooth and rough stripes resembling the smooth surface of milk and bumpy texture of sugar.
Achieving Wrinkle-Resistant Cotton
One of the earliest prototypes for the cotton T-shirt dates to 1880, when sailors in the U.S. Navy were issued an elbow and hip length undershirt; when laid out on flat surface, it resembled a perfect “T.” This military undergarment was transformed over the next few decades, and became a staple in civilian men’s wardrobes by the 1950s.