What is Cotton?

Cotton Processing

Cotton is grown in many countries across the globe. Cotton, canvas is a natural fibre that grows on the seed of the cotton plant. The fibre is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile.

Cotton is available in 3oz-5oz. Once the weight goes above 5oz the weave of the fabric gets coarser and the term canvas is used to describe the fabric. Canvas is available in 8oz-20oz. All cotton bags can be screen printed with your artwork.

View our selection of cotton stock bags on our sister site CottonBag.co.uk

The History of Cotton

The oldest traces of cotton fibres date as back as 5,000B.C. The fibres were discovered in Mexico and later spread out to Egypt and India for over 5,000 years.

The first cotton mill was built by Englishman Samuel Slater in the 1700’s. The mills converted the fibres into yarn and cloth. In 1793, Eli Whitney developed the Cotton Gin which was a machine tasked with separating the seed from the lint fibre. The word “gin” was coined as short for the word “engine.” The new invention made work easier and up to ten times faster compared to doing the same work by hand.

Today, the production and processing of cotton is much easier, faster and more efficient which is why cotton is one of the most popular natural fibres in the world.

  • Available in Conventional, Organic and Fairtrade Cotton

  • Organic cotton is fertiliser and pesticide free

  • Soft and breathable textile

  • Dyed, Washed & Waxed canvas available

  • Pantone dyed canvas bags available from 3 weeks!

  • Stock bags available in 4.5oz, 5oz, 8oz, 10oz, 12oz & 16oz!

Canvas is available in a range of weights and finishes.

Canvas can be supplied in various weaves such as, Duck, Twills, Drills, Casement, Voile, Poplin, Dobby and Sheeting, giving the fabric a unique finish. We can also provide various certifications such as Fairtrade, Organic GOTS, Organic OE100, Oekotex & BCI.

The natural colour of cotton is ecru, but it can be dyed to match any Pantone colour. Before the fabric is dyed it must be bleached to remove the natural ecru colour, this results in the fabric being an off-white colour (RFD).

Take a look at some of our most popular fabric finishes below!

Design your cotton or canvas bags today!

Bespoke Canvas Bags

Where is Cotton Grown?

There are several countries that are known as the leading producers of cotton. These include India, China, Brazil, USA, Greece, Australia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and many others.

How Does Cotton Grow?

Cotton has very specific requirements if it’s to grow properly. It grows on well-drained, highly fertile soils. The specific details might differ depending on the species of cotton. The most popular species are the Upland Cotton and Pima Cotton. There’s also the Asiatic Cotton which is grown in some parts of Southeast Asia.

Planting of cotton starts in spring. It’s best planted when the temperatures are above 16 degrees Celsius.

After planting, it takes about 7 – 10 days for the seeds to germinate into a bud also known as a square which appears about 7 weeks after planting. The bud is what becomes the flower.

The white blossoms later become pollinated and turn pink. They later wither and produce green bolls. The green bolls grow to become cotton bolls which house the white fluffy fibres.

During the growing cycle, the plant has to be fertilised, weeded and irrigated as required.

Once the cotton has grown, it’s defoliated. In this process, the leaves are removed, then the cotton is harvested and compressed into modules before being sent to cotton gins.

At the Gin, the cotton fibres and the seeds are separated. The Gin used might differ depending on the type of cotton. The Saw Gin is used to process Upland cotton while Pima cotton is separated using the Roller Gin.

Once the cotton lint is separated, it’s sent to the cotton mills to make yarns. To help the fibres run parallel, the cotton has to be combed then spun into thread. The seed separated from the lint is used as animal feed and can also be used as garden fertiliser. The oil is used in the pharmaceutical and firearm industries.

What is Cotton Used For?

Cotton comes in different varieties and quality. Each quality or variety is suitable for different applications.

Long lint fibres are used for clothing, beddings and other common products. Cotton fibres with short lint are used as stuffing for furniture, plastics and insulation. The cotton seed oil is used in foods and cosmetics.

Cotton fibres are used in making of other products like shopping bags. The light weight but durable nature of the fabric makes it the perfect alternative to plastic bags. Cotton bags can be customised to different shapes, sizes and colours to suit different applications. The cotton can also be screen printed with your artwork.