CQ ‘Cotton We Love’ Chronicles

commons held image Cotton fabric is the backbone of the quilter’s craft, as well as the clothing industry. It has a long history, is an international commodity, and is sometimes the subject of controversy. We live intimately with cotton, and love the feel of it in clothing, bedding, and even on the bolt in the fabric store.

Loom from 1890'sAs I began to learn more about this amazing fiber, be it fabric, thread, or yarns, I started to think about the people who help to bring the finished material to my sewing table. Many hands touched my fabrics before I could cut and sew with them: farmers, shippers, millers, spinners, weavers, designers, dyers, finishers, wholesalers, and retailers. Whether their hands do the labor, or their hands run the machinery, they have all helped to bring me the fabric I love.

The CQ ‘Cotton We Love’ Chronicles Index
Part One: The Cotton We Love, How It Starts,
published June 17, 2010
Part Two: The Cotton We Love, Turning Fiber Into Fabric, posted July 2010
Part Three: The Cotton We Love, The Designer’s Touch, posting 2015
Part Four: The Cotton We Love, Mill to Market, posting late 2016
The Use of Chemicals in Manufacturing Cotton Fabric: ongoing publication dates
Cotton Fabric Care and Handling: ongoing publication dates
Posts and Articles About Particular Cotton Fabrics: ongoing publication dates
Going green: Consider the world of organic cottons, fair trade cotton, natural dyes, and other environmental impacts of quilting, ongoing publication dates
Suggest a Topic: email me with your cotton questions
References and Bibliography

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Part One: The Cotton We Love, How It Starts, published June 17, 2010

…Cotton has a rich history, covering both the growing and the use of the wonderful fiber. Archaeological records find cotton fabrics in use in the Indus River Valley in West Pakistan as early as 3000 B.C., and in Peru around 2500 B.C. (2). These early cottons were probably prized, as harvesting the crops and picking the fibers away from the attached seeds was tedious work. The fibers were then spun into yarns, or matted. Dyes were made from plants, and often applied to the strands before weaving. Until the invention of the Cotton Gin by Eli Whitney in 1793, mass production of cotton fiber was not possible (3).

Probably the first people whose hands helped to bring my fabrics to me are the farmers and their work crews. Today these people may be anywhere in the world, and the conditions of their farms can vary widely…read more, including footnotes…

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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Part Two: The Cotton We Love, Turning Fiber Into Fabric, posted July 22, 2010

Cotton bales heading to market, around 1900.

Cotton bales heading to market, around 1900.

…A traditional bale of cotton weighs 400-500 pounds (US) and can be made into over 600 large bath towels. Larger farming operations offer their cotton to market in compressed modules, each the equivalent of 12-20 traditional bales. As these modules enter the market, their moisture content is standardized. In the manufacturing of cotton threads and yarns for fabric, the intake bins at large factories are sized to accommodate these modules, and to mix fluff from several of them.

While these steps are largely automated today, many hands contribute to making the fabric we sew by operating equipment, merchandising, packaging, and other processes along the way. By the time a bolt of fabric is printed and finished, upwards of 200 people may have touched it as it came through the milling steps…read more, including footnotes

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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Part Three: The Cotton We Love, The Designer’s Touch, coming in 2015

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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Part Four: The Cotton We Love, Mill to Market, coming 2016

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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The Use of Chemicals in Manufacturing Cotton Fabric: ongoing publication dates

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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Cotton Fabric Care and Handing: To access, click on cotton fabric care in Talking About…tag cloud in right sidebar: ongoing publication dates

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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Posts and Articles About Particular Fabrics: ongoing publication dates:
Homespuns Have History, published August 2010
Quilting Trivia: 10 Tidbits about Bamboo and Bamboo Fiber, published January 9, 2011 (not cotton, but interesting!)
Valentine Colors: Red and Pink Fabric Dyes, published February 14, 2011, explores the history of red dyes used for cottons.

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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Going green: To access, click on going green in Talking About…tag cloud in right sidebar: Consider the world of organic cottons, fair trade cotton, natural dyes, and other environmental impacts of quilting, ongoing publication dates

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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References and Bibliography

return to CQ Cotton Chronicles Index
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10 Responses to CQ ‘Cotton We Love’ Chronicles

  1. Donna says:

    I am really looking forward to more of this. The first one was very thoughtful.

  2. Pingback: The Cotton We Love: Turning Fiber Into Fabric | The Curious Quilter

  3. Pingback: The Cotton We Love, How It Starts | The Curious Quilter

  4. Shane says:

    This is very cool. I love your blog, serious or silly.

  5. Martin says:

    Insightfull. Keep it up please!

  6. Pingback: Faded Pansies | The Curious Quilter

  7. Jennifer C. says:

    I wanted you to know how many of my 5th grade students find your great Cotton Chronicles when asked to do research on the cotton industry in the 1800’s! The sharpest students also find your wonderful page of references and bibliography.

    I am not sure if any of them will become quilters in the future, but your “hands that touch” angle has been a great starting point for elementary school student discussions about where goods come from.

    Thank you! – “Miss JVC and her fifth graders” Portland, OR

  8. Pingback: Hello World, Again! My Blog Turns One. | The Curious Quilter

  9. Pingback: One Quilter’s Reflection on Labor Day, Still Timely | The Curious Quilter

  10. Pingback: A milestone: 200,000 hits, and counting | The Curious Quilter

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