They daily see miles and miles of cotton fabrics turned into articles that make life more comfortable and pleasant. They see heavy, strong cotton go into sturdy work clothing; they see durable, tough cotton fabrics go into bags for an infinite variety of products; they see delicate, sheer cotton become glamorous dresses for the world of fashion.
Cotton always has been a favorite of the needle industry because it is "sew easy". Cotton fabrics do not give workers slipping or crawling trouble in cutting or sewing. They do not stretch or sag on the machine. When seams are sewn on cotton, they are sewn to stay because the stability of cotton materials keeps threads from slipping and pulling.
Before it reaches the sewing trade in the form of fabrics, cotton must travel a long journey. From its start as a tiny seed, planted early in the spring, cotton grows into a green plant a few weeks later after patient care and intensive cultivation. Hot summer weather soon brings waxy blossoms to the cotton stalk. In a short while, this flower changes into the boll that bears the valuable fiber. When the fields are sufficiently covered with the precious locks of cotton to make picking worthwhile, the harvesting season begins.
Wagonloads of the light powderpuff-like fluff are drawn to gins where the lint is separated from the seed. Bales of cotton are sold to spinning mills to be spun into yarn. It is almost incredible that a single pound of cotton can be spun into as much as 170 miles (273.58 kilometers) of yarn. Most mills, however, do not often spin yarn finer than 66 miles (106.21 kilometers) to the pound. The cotton yarn is turned into fabric in weaving mills, and when the necessary dyeing, printing, and finishing processes are completed, the fabric, at last, reaches cutters and sewers. Soon, finished cotton products are ready to be placed in the hands of consumers.
Through the years, cotton goods have held an important place in the hearts of consumers. They like cotton's washability, its wearability, and the way it feels next to the skin. Though a cotton fiber is far finer than a human hair, it has almost unbelievable strength. Cotton fibers have been tested which do not break under the pull of 100,000 pounds per square inch — many types of steel cannot withstand such a pull and no other common textile fiber is so strong. Cotton, also, is the only common textile fiber that is stronger wet than when dry. Cotton keeps its strength through laundering and abrasion, through water and weathering.
Though nature herself has provided us with a nearly perfect fiber in cotton, man is constantly at work to make cotton serve us even better. Research scientists have recently developed cotton that is wrinkle-resistant. They have found means of flame-proofing and waterproofing cotton fabrics. They have discovered methods to give cotton special finishes for particular uses. Every day, the laboratories are busy on technical projects in such fields as drape, hand, luster, dyes, and finishes that will result in new and improved cotton fabrics. Cotton has long been known for its many quality advantages. Now, the union of King Cotton and modern science makes an unbeatable combination.