Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?

We cover everything you need to know about Pima cotton, from how it is produced to its physical properties and common uses.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 16, 2021

One of the few things that you learn when you just start sewing is that there are so many types of fabric. So rather than having only cotton, you have a variety of types, with Pima cotton being one of them. This is known as one of the types of cotton with superior characteristics, alongside Egyptian and upland cotton.

If you’re looking to start working with Pima cotton, we have all you need in this complete guide, from the Pima cotton definition and physical properties to a Pima cotton vs Egyptian cotton comparison and common uses of Pima cotton fabric.

What Is Pima Cotton?

Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?

Pima cotton is a type of cotton, widely considered to be high-end because of its soft feeling, durability, and wrinkle-resistant nature. The cotton is gotten from Gossypium Barbadense Trusted Source Gossypium barbadense - Wikipedia Gossypium barbadense (gos-SIP-pee-um bar-ba-DEN-see) is one of several species of cotton. It is in the mallow family. It has been cultivated since antiquity, but has been especially prized since a form with particularly long fibers was developed in the 1800s. Other names associated with this species include sea island, Egyptian, Pima, and extra-long staple (ELS) cotton. en.wikipedia.org , which is a different type of plant than normal cotton. It has a longer fiber than normal types of cotton, measuring between 1.4 inches and 2 inches. This is longer than normal cotton, which is up to 1.1 inches long.

Pima cotton is a good choice for people with sensitive skin and has a 50% longer life expectancy than most types of cotton. Since Pima cotton has long fiber, it’s easy to twist the thread when using it, and this is one of its main characteristics.

Because of its soft nature and characteristics, Pima cotton is a popular choice for all kinds of luxury items, especially Pima cotton sheets and different types of clothing. It is also used to make towels because it is highly absorbent and piling resistant.

Where Does It Come From?

Pima cotton has its origin in the popular Sea Islands of South Carolina, where it emerged as far as the 1790s. The cotton was created by cross-pollinating different Egyptian types of cotton, which led to a one-of-a-kind American extra-long cotton. Cotton became popular because it had a luxurious feeling and was highly durable too.

Pima cotton was first called American-Egyptian cotton before the name was changed to Pima cotton. In the 1900s, the US Department of Agriculture worked with the Pima tribe in Arizona to enhance the plant used to make Pima cotton. This is why the name was changed to Pima cotton. In the 1950s, there was an impressive advancement in this type of cotton, making it the Pima cotton yarn or fabric that we have today.

How Is It Made?

Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?

Apart from asking what is Pima cotton, the common question is how the cotton is made. The process starts with picking the cotton seeds from the Gossypium Barbadense plant. Then, it follows the steps below:

  • The seeds are condensed into balls after they are picked, and taken to the factory floor.
  • The balls are left in an opening room, the opening machine will pull raw cotton fibers out of the bale.
  • It is sent to a mixing machine afterward.
  • The cotton fibers are then pulled out to form a web, and this is when raw cotton fibers turn to strands that look like a rope.
  • Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?The strands are sent to a combing machine, where all the impurities are removed.
  • The strands are loaded into bobbins, and then the bobbin will wind it into spools.
  • Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?Then, the spools are spun into Pima cotton yarn
  • The yarn is woven into Pima cotton fabric.

Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?

Physical Properties of Pima Cotton

Pima cotton is known for its impressive physical properties that make it have a soft and luxurious feeling. It also has better properties than normal types of cotton.

Stretchability

When it comes to its stretchability, Pima cotton would only have a medium rating. This is because the fabric is not so stretchy like modal fabric or spandex, but it isn’t too stiff on the other hand. Because of the extra-long fibers, Pima cotton resists stretching.

This means that Pima cotton fabric would not slack after it stretches. Instead, it is good at retaining the initial shape. As for the question, does Pima cotton shrink, the answer is yes, just like cotton. The fabric would shrink the first time it is washed, up to three percent. But after this, it would retain its shape.

Breathability

Pima cotton is highly breathable, like many types of cotton. Clothes made with this fabric, like Pima cotton t-shirts, pajamas, and other kinds of clothing, are known for being very soft and breathable, so you can enjoy wearing them during the hot weather.

You get to stay cool when you wear clothes made with the Pima cotton fabric during hot weather, and so it would be good to work with this fabric once the summer months start.

Pima cotton is also great for sleepwear because you won’t sweat while sleeping. This is probably why the fabric is used to make bedsheets too.

Moisture-wicking

Pima cotton is also very good at moisture wicking and is quite absorbent, making it again perfect for summer wear. The fabric is absorbent enough to absorb sweat from your body, and then the moisture will evaporate into the air, ensuring that you remain cool and comfortable during hot weather.

Because of its moisture-wicking quality, there are Pima cotton towels and it is also used to make workout or yoga clothes. You won’t have to worry about sweat sticking to the fabric while you wear it, making it versatile for all kinds of clothes.

Heat Retention

Everything About Pima Cotton: Is It Better Than Regular Cotton?

Pima cotton does not have good heat retention abilities. Even if it can help you keep cool, it would not do a great job of retaining your body heat to keep you warm during the cold months. If anything, Pima cotton is highly recommended for warm months and hot weather.

So, if you need clothes that would keep you warm, you shouldn’t make them with Pima cotton but with wool instead. Instead, you should focus on using Pima cotton during warm months since it is highly breathable to keep you comfortable, soft, and absorbent, ensuring you’re not sweaty or sticky.

Durability

When it comes to durability, which is the last physical property on our list, Pima cotton passes this with flying colors. They are known to be one of the most durable types of cotton asides from being resistant to wrinkling and piling. When it is made from shorter staple cotton, Pima cotton becomes even more durable.

Pima cotton also has a 50% longer life expectancy than other types of cotton, making it even more durable.

Although it is durable, the Pima cotton is not used in industrial settings. This is because the fabric is too expensive to be used for commercial purposes.

Most Common Uses of Pima Cotton

Pima cotton fabric can be used to make different kinds of clothes and has a diverse range of applications, as long as you’re not going to wear it during cold weather. One of the most popular applications is Pima cotton sheets, which feel comfortable when you sleep in them. Because bed sheets have to be soft, breathable, and comfortable, Pima cotton is a perfect fit. There are also Pima cotton pajamas and sleepwear, also for the same reasons.

Pima cotton is also used to make t-shirts, dress shirts, dresses, hoodies, underwear, and normal types of clothing. It is also used to make luxury clothing like bathrobes, nightgowns, and loungewear. It can be used to make towels because of its moisture-wicking ability. You can also use Pima cotton to make clothes for workouts, exercise, and yoga. The cotton is quite easy to sew too.

Pima vs. Regular Cotton

Put simply, Pima cotton is a higher-end version of traditional cotton. The video below compares these two.

Pima vs. Egyptian Cotton

Pima cotton is quite similar to Egyptian cotton, which is probably why the two kinds of cotton are compared to each other. They are both extra-long-staple kinds of cotton and are made from the same kind of plant, Gossypium Barbadense. These two types of cotton have their differences.

When looking at Pima cotton vs Egyptian cotton, the main difference is where they are grown. While Pima cotton is grown in the United States of America, Egyptian cotton as the name implies is grown in the Nile River Valley, which is a dry, hot climate.

It’s important to check the labeling and the quality of the cotton because it’s possible to mix up these two types of cotton. Some kinds of cotton also have the label when they are not made with Gossypium Barbadense, so you have to tell whether it is 100% cotton.

But, the two types of cotton are soft, comfortable, and highly breathable. They are also usually used to make bed sheets, luxury wear, and sleepwear, especially with beddings.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to benefit from when you use Pima cotton the way it’s supposed to be used, and so if you’re good with sewing Trusted Source Sewing Cotton Fabric : {10 Most important tips} - Sew Guide Learn how to sew with cotton fabric sewguide.com , Pima cotton is a good place to start practicing advanced skills. Keep in mind that this type of cotton is quite expensive unlike acrylic cotton, but for good reason. There is also a type of Pima cotton, called Supima cotton and is known for having very high quality.

It might also be helpful to note that Pima cotton has a small impact on the environment, lesser than what normal cotton production will have. You can start using Pima cotton to make all kinds of clothing during the hot summer months.

References

1.
Gossypium barbadense - Wikipedia
Gossypium barbadense (gos-SIP-pee-um bar-ba-DEN-see) is one of several species of cotton. It is in the mallow family. It has been cultivated since antiquity, but has been especially prized since a form with particularly long fibers was developed in the 1800s. Other names associated with this species include sea island, Egyptian, Pima, and extra-long staple (ELS) cotton.
2.
Sewing Cotton Fabric : {10 Most important tips} - Sew Guide
Learn how to sew with cotton fabric
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