What Is Pima Cotton?

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We all know that cotton is one of the most popular fabrics used worldwide for making various textile products. However, there is much more to cotton than we might think. There are many different types of cotton that vary in quality and cost, but we will be focusing on one, in particular, Pima cotton.

So, what is Pima cotton?

Pima cotton is a type of cotton grown in the American Southwest. Pima cotton has long, high-quality fibers and is classified as a medium to long-staple cotton. Pima cotton is one of the finest types of cotton and is mostly used to make high-end quality products.

Pima cotton is more than just a type of cotton, and its demand continues to grow.

Below we will focus on how it differs from regular cotton, what it is used for, its characteristics as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this type of cotton.

What Is Pima Cotton?

What is pima cotton?

Pima cotton is a type of cotton that is mostly grown in tropical areas such as South America and the West Indies. It comes from a specific type of cotton plant known as Gossypium barbadense. 

The plant produces seeds that are white and fluffy and contain thousands of tiny fibers that are long and thin. Therefore, Pima cotton is composed of long fibers, unlike many other varieties of cotton, which have short fibers. 

These longer fibers make this type of cotton more durable, soft, and of higher quality. Pima cotton is used to make high-end products, but it must be turned into Pima fabric first. 

How Is Pima Cotton Different From Regular Cotton?

Cotton is the most widely used material around the world as it is known for its durability, breathability, and comfortability. Although there are many different types of cotton, they all differ from each other in many ways. Pima cotton is one of several types of cotton and is significantly different from regular cotton. 

Pima cotton fibers are longer than regular cotton fibers. The average length of the fibers in regular cotton is 1.1 inches long whereas Pima cotton fibers can reach lengths of 1.4 to 2 inches.

The length of the fibers affects the quality of products, with longer fibers being higher quality and shorter fibers of lower quality. Therefore, products made with Pima cotton will be of higher quality than products made with regular cotton.

Pima and regular cotton differ in durability due to the fiber length. Products made with Pima cotton are more durable than those made with regular cotton. 

Let us take a look at how Pima cotton is transformed into Pima fabric. 

How Is Pima Fabric Made From Pima Cotton?

Pima cotton cannot be used in its natural form. To make various products with Pima cotton, it must first undergo multiple processes to turn this cotton into Pima fabric.

So how is that done?

Step 1: Harvesting Pima Cotton

The first step in this process involves harvesting Pima cotton seeds. Since the rise of technology, cotton is no longer handpicked. Instead, an industrial machine known as a cotton gin is used. This machine makes the production process much quicker and easier. 

Step 2: Condensing Pima Cotton Into Bales

After harvesting the Pima cotton seeds, they are condensed into bales. Once this is done, they are transported to a factory and stored in an area known as the “opening room.”  

Step 3: Pulling Raw Cotton Fibers Out Of The Bales

The “opening room” is equipped with cotton opening machines. These machines extract raw cotton fibers from the Pima cotton bales. Once this is done, the raw cotton fibers are moved into a mixing machine.  

Step 4: The Carding Process

After the mixing process, the raw Pima cotton fibers are carded. The carding process involves pulling the fibers into parallel alignment, which forms a web as well as transforms them into almost rope-like strands.

Step 5: Raw Cotton Stands Are Put Into A Combing Machine

Once the carding process is complete, the rope-like strands are placed in a combing machine. The combing machine is responsible for removing all impurities from the Pima cotton. 

Step 6: The Wounding Process

Now that the impurities from the Pima cotton are removed, the rope-like strands are loaded onto bobbins and then wound onto spools. 

Step 7: Spinning The Cotton Ropes

After the wounding process, the next step involves spinning the Pima cotton ropes into yarn. 

Step 8: Weaving The Yarn

The Pima Cotton yarn can now be woven into high-quality Pima Fabric. 

What Are The Characteristics Of Pima Cotton?

Now that we know more about what Pima cotton is, how it is different from regular cotton, and what it is used for, let us look at three important characteristics of this cotton. 

Pima cotton Is Highly Breathable

Among fabrics, cotton is considered to be one of the most breathable materials. However, Pima cotton is of higher quality than traditional cotton, making it more breathable. 

Pima cotton Is Durable

Pima cotton is extremely durable as it has long fibers. When these long fibers are woven together, the result is a strong and durable fabric. 

Pima cotton Is Soft

Pima cotton is incredibly soft. Once again, this is because of the longer fibers. The softness of Pima cotton is the reason why it is so popular. When a fabric is soft, it does not only increase comfortability but is also gentler on the skin.  

What Is Pima Cotton Used For?

Although Pima cotton is extremely rare and expensive and is mostly used to make various high-end products, many use it for other purposes as well. 

Pima Cotton Is Used To Make Casual Clothing

Pima cotton might be known as a superior type of cotton; however, it is still used to make products that other types of cotton are normally used for, such as casual clothing. These include:

  • T-shirts.
  • Hoodies.
  • Dresses.
  • Underwear.
Pima cotton clothes
Pima cotton clothes, courtesy of Peruvian Connection

Pima Cotton Is Used To Make Luxury Clothing

Focusing on its true purpose, which is being used for high-end products, Pima cotton is mostly used for making Luxury-orientated clothing such as:

  • Nightgowns.
  • Pajamas.
  • Loungewear.
  • Bathrobes.

Pima Cotton Is Used For Home Décor 

Pima cotton is used to make various products for your home. Let us look at some examples:

  • Bathroom towels.
  • Bedsheets.
  • Pillowcases.
  • Tablecloths.

The Advantages And Disadvantages of Pima Cotton

All fabrics and materials have certain advantages that make them ideal for specific applications. However, they all have their downfalls. The same applies to Pima cotton, so let us look at the major advantages and disadvantages of this type of cotton.

The Advantages Of Pima Cotton

Although there are many other types of cotton, such as Supima cotton and Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton is still grabbing most people’s attention. Here are the key advantages of using it:

  • Pima cotton can withstand high temperatures. Products made with Pima cotton can withstand high heat so they can be put in the washing machine and tumble dryer.
  • Pima cotton is available in different thread counts. The long and ultra-thin fibers of Pima cotton allow this cotton to be available in thread counts as high as 300.
  • Pima cotton is highly versatile. You can use Pima cotton to make various clothing items and home comforts.  
  • Pima cotton is resistant to pilling. Pima cotton has long fibers that do not tangle easily, reducing the chances of pills appearing on products made with this material. 
  • Pima cotton is hypoallergenic. Cotton clothing made from Pima cotton does not cause any skin irritations for people with sensitive skin. 
  • Pima cotton is available in many different colors. The original color of Pima cotton is white, which means it can be dyed with any color. 
  • Pima cotton is cheaper than other varieties. Pima cotton is cheaper than Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton.

The Disadvantages Of Pima Cotton

The material comes with a couple of disadvantages, too:

  • Pima cotton is hard to find. Pima cotton is hard to come by as it is not grown worldwide but only in a few countries. 
  • Pima cotton is expensive. Pima cotton is extremely expensive because of how difficult it is to get. 

Our Verdict on Using Pima Cotton

As we can see, Pima cotton is a rare and high-quality type of cotton with longer fibers than regular cotton. Pima cotton is extremely versatile as it can be used for making clothing and various household items that we have explored above.

However, it has to be turned into Pima fabric first.

Furthermore, Pima cotton is characterized as being highly breathable, durable, and soft.

The downside is that Pima cotton is difficult to get and extremely expensive, although once you have it, it is worth every penny!

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