Cotton has been used to make clothing for thousands of years. Cotton is a wonderful source for clothing as it is soft to the skin, durable against the stresses placed against it and can be dyed and woven into many colorful and attractive patterns.
Cotton is grown in the southern United States and in many other countries with like climates around the world. As the plant matures it has a fluffy boll that surrounds the seed of the cotton plant. The cotton gin, invented by American Eli Whitney in 1793 and patented in 1794, was a major boon to the cotton industry.
This invention allowed more cotton to be grown and harvested without having to use as much slave labor to produce clothing. Separating the fluffy boll from the seed was time consuming and painful. The seed is sharp like a needle and will prick the workers. There is a reason that much cotton clothing was colored reddish brown throughout history.
After the gin has removed the fluffy boll from the seed it intertwines the fibers into cotton threads. Now the cotton can be used for many different uses including yarns, laces and threads. Each of these creates different textures of clothing and allows the clothing manufacturer to create many visual variations, all using cotton.
These variations are created on looms which are large mechanisms where the cotton is woven into row upon row of interweaved patterns and become cloth. This woven cloth can either be made directly into the end product or it can be cut and sewn into a new garment. The versatility of cotton cloth is one of its major strengths.
Add in the fact that cotton effectively retains colored dyes and the clothing manufacturer can add even more variety to the clothing they are producing. Today it is not unusual to see clothing racks at a store and each garment is virtually identical to the next with color and size variations being the difference between the clothes. Intricate weavings of the yarn, lace and tread can create stunning garments that are beautiful and durable.