Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Shariful Alam
Egyptian cotton has fame like Swiss Chocolate or French Wine. It is an agricultural pride of Egypt. The Egyptians have sung about the proud history of their cotton culture. In the schools of Egypt, they even added the story of cotton agriculture to their syllabus.
Suppose you are looking for a luxurious fabric to try on. Egyptian cotton is one of the best choices. So I will not introduce any more; let us go directly into it.
What is Egyptian cotton?
Egyptian cotton grows in the famous Nile Delta of Egypt. There, the farmers use water from the river to harvest cotton. It is grown in a specific and fertile climate. When the fibers are ready for harvest, each boll is carefully handpicked from the cotton plant to protect the purity and integrity of the fiber. As a result, the final thread is one of the most beautiful cottons in the world. All Egyptian cotton has long staple (LS) and Extra Long staple (ELS). It makes it easier to spin more finely while making fabric out of it.
History of Egyptian Cotton
Egyptian cotton has a long historical background of its own. Cotton plants have been growing around Egypt since 2500 BC. Only two cotton species are grown in Egypt. They were Gossypium arboreum and Gossypium herbaum.
Cotton cultivation has dominated Egyptian civilization since the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. To know the evolution of Egyptian cotton, scientists somehow collected cotton seeds from Egypt, especially a place called Nubia. So they found that the Nubians didn’t use cotton fiber for making textiles. The seeds found were actually digested animal dung seeds. The Nubians must have used cotton seeds for animal feeding.
During the Islamic period, Egyptian cotton cultivation flourished. It was the period of AD 800 to AD 1820. Cairo, which was the first Islamic capital of Egypt, was the heart of the cotton trade. Historians said that during the tenth century, the Muslim traders spread cotton fiber and seeds across the Mediterranean to Spain. Ancient Egyptians sowed the seeds in April. Plants matured in September. Some said seeds were sown from February to mid march. In August, the fiber was handpicked.
Now let me tell you some interesting stories about Egyptian cotton fiber. Any Egyptian did not notice the very first Egyptian cotton. A French man discovered it. His name was Monsieur Jumel. One day he saw cotton plants growing like bushes here and there in a beautiful garden of Cairo. Out of curiosity, he collected some of the fiber and created a staple that was extremely large compared to other staples. Then he presented his invention to the rulers of Egypt. Rest is history. Since then, Egyptian cotton has been called “the White Gold” by the Egyptians.
Expanded industry of Egyptian cotton
In the year 1862, an American civil war was happening, which affected the textile industry. It made the European traders desperate to buy Egyptian cotton, as Pima was not very available or couldn’t travel for the war. That was the time when the demand for Egyptian cotton reached too high. The prices also rose across the worldwide market.
As a result, the export demand for Egyptian cotton also doubled for exceptional quality fabric. In 1861, only 59600 cantars of cotton were exported from Egypt; it became 1.3 million in just two years.
The Suez canal also played a tricky role in Egypt’s textile industry and the world. Its impact was revolutionary. In 1869, ships started to travel using Suez all around the world. So this factor also impacted the spread of Egyptian cotton naturally.
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Trade created a non-profit association called ‘Cotton Egypt’. This association basically monitors and promotes its product to the world.
Characteristics of Egyptian cotton : how it feels?
– Egyptian cotton fabrics are softer, finer, and longer than other cotton fabrics. The fabric has a higher thread count. The weave is significantly stronger, which makes them very durable. Each square inch produces the finest quality of flexible fabric.
– Where regular cotton has more splices, Egyptian cotton fibers can create the strongest and finest yarns. Talking about the finest quality of Egyptian cotton, Giza one of them.
– Egyptian cotton fabric is better for air circulation. That’s why it is best to use bed sheets and night clothes. Giza guarantees the highest levels of purity in fabrics. For this, Giza has the ability to absorb liquids. For this reason, you may see a variety of colors on the fabric.
– Like any other cotton, it is surely breathable, and cozy to wear. The fabric is smooth that can fit any season.
How to know the quality of Egyptian cotton?
Three things determine the quality of egyptian cotton.
- The fiber
As we have discussed earlier, Egyptian cotton is famous for its long staple. The Extra Large Staples (ELS) are the main characteristic of Egyptian cotton.
2. The thread count of fabric
Also, the long staple of Egyptian cotton ensures the possibility of creating a high thread count on fabric. For example, you will find SFERRA Giotto Sateen, famous for Egyptian cotton bed sheets with 590 thread counts.
Celeste fabrics are woven in 400 thread counts. Generally, The more is the thread count, the higher the price!
3. The weaving method
Now, let’s talk about the importance of the weaving method on Egyptian cotton. Actually, they are classified based on weaving patterns. While buying these fabrics, you may find some options. Let’s look to get some idea on weaving patterns usually applied to Egyptian cotton.
● Percale weave:
Percale weave is a closely woven fabric that is mostly used for making bed covers. This weave almost has a thread count of about 200 or more. ’Percale’ was named after the word ‘Pargalah’ which means rag. But as a matter of joke, percale weave is far from being a rag.
It creates a lightweight and breathable fabric. Percale woven on Egyptian fabric is frequently used in luxury hotels. The bed sheets are perfect for summer, and it feels absolutely crisp and cool against the skin. In this weave, individual cotton yarns are woven over and under each other. The tighter the weave is, the smoother the final product will be.
● Sateen Weave:
Sateen weave gives a fabric, weft-faced structure. This weave makes the fabric’s front side smooth and backside rough and dense. Sateen is also tightly woven. Compared to other basic weaves, sateen has more yarn surface on the face of the cloth. That’s why sateen linen has a silk line touch and creates softer clothes than Percale. Sateen weave on Egyptian cotton makes the fabric smoother, softer, warmer, heavier and silkier at the same time.
● Jacquard Weave:
Have you noticed the floral design weaved in your towel? Or on the cushion covers in your bed? Well, the weaved design is called a jacquard weave. Jacquard weave is a special weaving process.
Using a jacquard weave, Fabrics create designs that are physically woven into the fabric. They are unlike the printed ones, so there is no chance of fading color. It creates a thick texture to the fabric. Floral, brocade, damask, and brocatelle designs are famous. This particular weave is used on cushions, bath towels, and rugs for its soft finish.
● Twill Weave:
Twill is a weaving pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. The diagonal weaving system makes the fabric resistant to wrinkles. Twill weave is famous for Egyptian cotton bed sheets.
Use of Egyptian Cotton
Everything can be made of Egyptian cotton, from super soft socks to comfy pajamas, smart shirts to undergarments. We know Egyptian cotton is famous for making bed sheets and bath towels.
– There are different types of Egyptian cotton used for different types of bed sheets or changing the price range. As we discussed, the weaving pattern and the thread counts apply to bed sheets. They are the reason that defines the price range.
– Normal towels have polycotton, polyester, or cotton in them. But the most luxurious towels are made of Egyptian cotton. Egyptian cotton towels are the most popular in high-luxury hotels and spas. So why is it famous for luxury towels?
1. Absorbency: Due to the unique composition of Egyptian cotton texture, Gossypium barbadense is different in every sphere from regular cotton. The fibers are thinner but stronger than regular cotton. The fibers are thinner but stronger than regular cotton. The staples allow more liquid absorbing loops per inch. This thin fabric allows more thread weave into each square inch, which results in a denser yet softer fabric. The more the threads are, the more it can absorb or soak water.
2. Softness: I talked about GSM earlier. It’s the weight in every gram square inch of fabric. Towels generally have a range of 300-900 GSM. But the luxury towels start from 500GSM. As Egyptian cotton strands, it’s woven threads create an ultra-soft and fluffy feeling.
3. Durability: Egyptian cotton towel gets better with age. With every wash, they become softer and fluffier. These towels are quite expensive, but considering their quality, comfort, and high durability, it’s worth it.
– Another very important thing is made of Egyptian cotton. And that is baby diapers. Baby diapers are one of the most sensitive things in terms of clothing. As the fabric has it’s own luxury story, it also makes the best diapers for babies. The best sides of Egyptian cotton diapers are:
● As the fabric is very absorbent, it can be used for a long time.
● It is washable and easily disposable.
● Moms can reuse it from time to time.
● Most importantly, these diapers are hypoallergenic. For this, babies remain very calm and sleep for a very long time.
● These diapers can also be used as swimwear and training pants.
How to take care of Egyptian cotton?
If you take care of your Egyptian cotton well, it may last for decades. When you are looking for a long-lasting product, try to follow the washing guideline. I will give you some tips for washing these fabrics.
● While buying or prepping for washing your clothes, always read the label symbols carefully.
● Sort your laundry by color.
● Find the proper detergent to wash them.
● Do not put on too much detergent.
● Mostly use pH-neutral detergents.
● Never use any fabric softener while washing.
● Avoid bleach unless it is absolutely necessary.
● Dry your bed sheets in low heat in the dryer or hang them away from direct sunlight.
● Don’t wash Egyptian cotton with any other fabric which has metal on them. It can ruin the texture.
Egyptian cotton is far softer, which wrinkles more easily. As time passes, the strength of the fiber decreases. So it’s better to know the ironing process of this luxurious fabric.
● After washing, do not put your cotton on a long drying cycle. This fabric is easiest to iron when it’s slightly damp.
● Figure out the cotton option in your iron. Maximum iron heat can damage your product.
● If the cotton is dry, give the fabric a light spritzing with some water.
● To confirm the sharpest look, try to iron it inside and out.
● If you are ironing bed sheets, fold the sheets and iron. It’ll lighten the burden of this daunting task
● To make the task easier of ironing, you can also look for ‘non-iron’ or ‘wrinkle-resistant’ Egyptian Cotton products available in the market. Try them too !!
Egyptian cotton fabric by the yard:
There are a variety of prices for Egyptian cotton fabric. On the one hand, quality, color, thread count, and manufacturing process differ in yard fabric pricing. On the other hand, length, the washing process, and sewing quality also make a difference in pricing. Like different fabrics, you can buy them in yards.
If you are concious buyer and love sustainabilty, Organic egyptian cotton is a great choice. Though Organic price is little bit hihger still worth it. GOT certified egyptian cotton is available in big offline and online store.
4 Tips to sew Egyptian cotton
Expensive, sensitive cotton is not easy to sew. You must be very careful doing so. Don’t be afraid. I’ll share some basic steps that’ll help you to sew your Egyptian fabric beautifully.
Step 1– before cutting or doing anything to your actual fabric, buy some inexpensive fabric with the same pattern. For Egyptian cotton, you can buy tissue or something like that.
Step 2– Fix the size you want to make cloth of. Measure your fabric carefully and before cutting them, draw with pencil and pin it along the seam allowance.
Step 3– make tissue alterations. Practice sewing in your inexpensive fabric.
Step 4– choose proper tools and notions. Incorrect tools can destroy all your hard work. Make sure you choose the exact needle. Try using different needles and stitch lengths during practice time will help you to get the smoothest seam.
- What type of cotton is grown in Egypt?
– The answer is Barbadence cotton. It has the highest quality and has long fibers and thin yarn.
- Does Egyptian cotton only grow in Egypt?
– Egyptian cotton is also known as an extra-long staple. Apart from Egypt, it is also grown in Peru and South America.
- How much cotton does Egypt grow?
– Egypt is one of the leading cotton-producing countries in the world. The average annual cotton crop in Egypt is around 1500000 bales of 478 pounds net worth.
- What makes Egyptian cotton so good?
– The fertile soil and Egypt’s moderate climate are ideal for growing such extra long staple fiber.
- Why is it different from other cotton?
– The main difference between the cotton is the plants. They grow in different plants, so obviously, their properties are never going to be the same.
- Is Egyptian cotton organic?
– Egyptian cotton can be organic, but it must be produced free of all synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. As Supima cotton has organic claims of its purity, Egyptian cotton does not.
- What is better thread count for Egyptian cotton sheets?
– Egyptian cotton sheets of 400-700 thread counts are the best ones. But many companies maintain the quality of the sheets among 200-300 thread count.
- How do I recognize actual Egyptian cotton?
– Well, the purest way to identify real Egyptian cotton is to look for DNA-tested products. Cost-effective DNA testing has been started since 2015.
- Can I wash my Egyptian cotton product in the dryer?
– Yes, you can. Make sure to keep your dryer in a low and mildly warm setting to prevent shrinking. Do not use dryer sheets because the chemicals can damage your clothes.
- Why is Egyptian cotton so special?
– Because it is more breathable, absorbent, and light than other kinds of cotton.
Wrap up : Egyptian Cotton
Egyptian cotton has a long back story. It has always been a part of human civilization’s growing history. We wanted to give you an overall idea of this specific fabric. We hope you like it. Dont hesitate to knock us any queation related to egyptian cotton.
Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!