This is how raw cotton is turned into high quality garments

The process of turning raw cotton into clothing is fascinating to watch.

If the video player is not working, you can watch the video from this alternate link.

Unless you are a nudist, chances are you wear some form of cotton clothing every day. But, have you ever wondered how they are actually made in a factory?

If so, check out the process. It’s surprisingly complex.

Source: Interesting engineering

Step 1: Sort and prepare the cotton

The first step, once the suitable cotton has been found, is to sort and prepare the raw cotton for weaving.

from cotton to raw cotton garments
Source: Interesting engineering

The raw cotton is sucked into a special sorting and preparation machine that acts a bit like a giant vacuum cleaner. The cotton is loosened, aired and transformed into a kind of cotton lint before being then deposited in a temporary hopper ready for the next stage.

Once in this form, the machine then weaves the flocked cotton into loose threads and weaves it into rope or cords ready for the next stage of the process. The cotton cords are then stored in large spindles or drums.

clothesline cotton
Source: Interesting engineering

Once cotton is in rope form, it is much easier to handle and use, for obvious reasons.

The cotton spindles are then moved to another machine in the factory which takes several cords from several spindles.

cotton to clothes pulleys
Source: Interesting engineering

These multiple cords are then woven into a single larger cord using a special device called a carding machine.

cotton to clothes carding machine
Source: Interesting engineering

Once complete, the larger single cord or rope is then formed into further loosely woven cotton bobbins, ready for the next stage.

Step 2: The cotton is spun into threads

Now that the raw cotton is fully prepared, the next step is to make the fine threads needed to weave the garments. This is done using a modern version of a very old technique – cotton spinning. The loosely woven cotton rope is fed into the machine to turn finely and weave into strong, fine threads.

These threads are then deposited on a series of cones or barrels depending on the final product.

cotton to clothes drums
Source: Interesting engineering

Once in this form, the cotton is fed to another modern version of a very old machine – a power loom. This machine takes the cotton threads and weaves them, fully automatically, into a fabric web. Some power looms, like the one in the video, are able to spin the cotton into fibers and weave it in one place.

The cotton fabric is stored in large rolls ready for the next phase of production.

cotton to clothing fabric
Source: Interesting engineering

Various looms are used in a factory to make cotton fabrics of different sizes and qualities. The final product really depends on the type of garments or other fabrics that the machine produces for its customers.

Some of these machines can be incredibly complex machines, bordering on appearing as a form of extraterrestrial technology. They are truly impressive things to watch in action.

from cotton to electric loom
Source: Interesting engineering

In the image above, this electric loom is converting loose cotton into fine yarns ready to be shipped to some of their customers.

Other fabrics, if required, are dyed, embossed or otherwise treated depending on the final product that will be shipped to the customer.

Step 3: Packaging the final product

The next step is to prepare the cotton thread drums or cones for shipment. Each is placed in another special machine that checks the quality of each barrel before packaging. Those who pass muster are then ushered into the next stage of the process.

Each drum is wrapped in a special mesh-like liner and tied closed to keep the wires tightly wrapped and protected. These are then transported via a conveyor belt.

clothing cotton bundling
Source: Interesting engineering

For fabric sheets, dyed or plain, the fabric sheets are added to another machine ready for further processing. Rolls can be shipped complete or, as in the case below, sheets are cut into smaller sheets for shipping.

cotton to the cut of clothes
Source: Interesting engineering

Once ready, the fabric can then be cut to size and shaped into different garments. If necessary, pieces of fabric are then sewn together to complete the required garment. It is a partially automated process, but usually requires a human hand at some point in the process.

cotton sewing clothes
Source: Interesting engineering

If the mark is needed, the cotton sheets can be fed into an embroidery machine. Here, the machine automatically sews the brand and other designs to order.

cotton sewing clothes
Source: Interesting engineering

That done, the clothes are almost finished. Each item must then go through a quality control process before final branding like stickers or labels, packaging, and then boxing ready for shipment.

And it’s a wrap, so to speak.

If you enjoyed watching cotton made into clothing (and other textiles), you might be interested in another industrial process? How about, for example, watching the clay turn into a toilet?

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