How shirt fabrics are made: the stages of cotton processing- part II


Now we have explained a bit about the history of cotton and its different types, we’d like to tell you how the fibre is processed and explain the different steps that lead to the creation of shirt fabrics. Cotton is the most commonly used fabric in shirt making and the subject of this and the following article will be how it is processed.

Cotton fibres are taken from the seed pods (bolls). After picking comes the first stage in the process from fibre to threads, which are then used to make the shirt fabrics.

This stage begins with the opening of the bales: taking care not to break the fibres, the cotton is prepared for ginning, to clean any impurities from the flocks.
Now the flocks are ready to be carded, which is the stage that sets the yarn count for the fabric (the thickness of the thread). The first semi-manufactured product is created, the ribbon, which is then cleaned of short fibres and impurities, so that only the longer, even and silky fibres are selected.
The next step is stretching: the ribbon is gradually refined to create the yarn, pulling it as much as necessary and twisting the fibres on themselves.
Before passing on to the next stage the yarn is inspected. It can only continue in the process if it passes specific tests, such as torsion or resistance.

At this stage, the unfinished yarn is transformed into a coloured thread. After a treatment process that eliminates the intrinsic impurities in the fibre, the dyeing process is ready to begin. The yarn is treated with different products to improve its absorbency, ensure even colour results and trigger certain chemical processes.
The next step is then washing and oxidation, which eliminate any excess dye not absorbed by the fibre and ensure that the absorbed colour is not water soluble.
Lastly, the spools are dried by centrifugation that eliminates part of the water absorbed during the dyeing process, and by radiofrequency, which helps the fibre to reach the correct percentage of moisture.
This stage also concludes with an inspection process involving various tests, such as colour fastness over time.

In the next post, we will be talking about two more stages. The processes involved in making cotton shirt fabric do not end here. There are many more stages involved in the creation of a top-quality product.

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