Cotton goes from fiber balls on a plant to fabric through a multi-step mechanical process. Cotton fibers, known as lint, are separated from the seeds then organized in lengths that are eventually spun into yarn.
When cutting a yard of fabric, the material is unrolled from the bolt, measured and cut at 36 inches or 3 feet in length. As fabrics come in varying widths, measurements only consider the length of the fabric when cutting.
To turn cotton into fabric, grow and harvest cotton plants, separate the lint and seed, make the yarn and weave the yarn into fabric. This process requires cottonseed, a cotton harvester, a cotton gin, a carding machine, a spinning machine and a weaving machine.
Cotton is a durable fabric that does not require delicate handling to keep it looking its best. It can handle high temperatures and rough use, which is why it's a popular fabric for children's wear and sports clothing.
A yard of fabric has 36 inches. Fabric is measured by yards or whole "bolts," depending on the project size it is being used for.
To make waxed cotton fabric, melt beeswax onto flat pieces of cotton fabric. Working with small pieces of fabric and melting the wax in the oven makes this project much easier.
While it depends on the size and style of the shirt, 2.75 yards of fabric can usually make a comfortably large long-sleeved shirt for an average-sized woman, and men's shirts will require about 15 percent more fabric. A simple T-shirt for a small child can be made with 1 yard of fabric.
There are typically between 30 and 100 yards of fabric in a bolt of fabric while the width of the fabric is often between 45 and 60 inches. When buying fabric in bulk, the bolt is usually the preferred amount to purchase.
A yard of fabric is always 36 inches long, but the width usually varies between 32 and 60 inches. Most fabrics are available in widths of 45 inches and 60 inches. Extra-large bolts up to 110 inches wide are available to back quilts, duvets and tablecloths.
Cotton is made from the fibers within the boll, the seed pod, of the cotton plant. When ripe, the boll pops open revealing the fluffy, white puffs. These are stripped from the plants by harvesting machines and delivered for processing.