Glossary of Cotton Varieties


All of us are familiar with cotton – a natural fabric derived from the fibers of the tropical cotton plant. However, not many realize just how many varieties of fabric and weaves are derived from cotton; more than 20 types.

Diaper Cloth is a highly absorbent cotton with a weave that is plain, dobby or twill.

Dimity is sheer, very lightweight fabric of fine cotton cords, sometimes with lengthwise strips and checks. It is usually white but can be printed.

Drill cotton is a strong, durable and has diagonals weaves. Often in ladies and men’s trousers.

Duck (similar to sail cloth) is a heavy, hard-wearing tightly woven fabric and made with cotton combined with hemp. Often used for awnings and tent canvas.

Flannel is a soft cotton, is napped on one or both sides and uses a plain or twill weave.

Flannelette cotton is napped only on one side.

Gauze from cotton is a sheer fabric with a loose weave, similar to cheesecloth.

Gingham is a sturdy but lightweight fabric, often woven in a plaid, stripped of checks style.

Lawn is a plain weave textile made from high count yarns that are very fine and soft. A starched or crisp finish is often given to the final product.

Mercerized cotton has fibers that have been irreversibly straightened out to create an even smoothness with a strong sheen.

Muslin cotton can be coarse or sheer to the touch. It’s often used in its natural color although it can be dyed.

Organdy is the sheerest of cottons. An acid finish gives it its thin, transparency and crisp texture.

Outing flannel is a type of soft cotton is a commonly used for infant clothing and diapers. It’s can have plain or twilled weave on napped both sides.

Oxford cloth often refers to materials with a mix of black and white fibers. Oxford cotton has numerous woven stripes woven (plain or basket weave) and a soft, glossy finish.

Percale cotton is sturdy but light weight, with closely woven fibers and often comes in dark colors.

Pima, also known as Egyptian cotton or South American cotton, is native to South America and renowned for its excellent quality.

Polished Cotton: its shiny appearance is due to chemical finishes applied on the plain or satin weave cotton.

Poplin, or tabinet, was originally of wool or silk but is now mostly made from cotton, with a weave of cross-wise ribs.

Sailcloth, as the name implies, is strong, heavy-duty fabric usually in a plain weave.

Sateen cotton has the smooth, glossy look and feel of satin.

Seersucker is a thin, light cotton with a crinkly surface of lengthwise stripes or checks.

Swiss cotton is extremely fine, sheer fabric. It comes plain but is often adorned with spots and other designs.

Terry Cloth consists of looped piles that are either knitted or woven, giving it is high water absorbency, most suitable for making towels. French terry cloth in particular has one side looped and the other shear piled.

Velveteen cotton has a velvet-like appearance due to characteristic short piles.

Whipcord cotton fabric is made of hard-twisted yarns that have a diagonal cord. It can also be made from wool.