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Bicomponent Spinning of Naturally Colored Cotton Yarns

L.B. Kimmel, A.P.S. Sawhney, E.R. Foster, W.D. Cole


Naturally colored cotton grows fibers in shades of green, red, and brown, instead of the usual white. Although the plants have been cultivated in many countries for thousands of years, they remained obscure because fibers from the indigenous plants could not be spun commercially. Genetic breeding has recently produced colored cultivars that can be processed on conventional textile machines. Yet, since most colored fibers remain relatively short and weak, they are usually mixed with white cotton to increase yarn strength, facilitate processing, and reduce costs. However, blending the fibers also dilutes the color intensity of the textiles, reducing their visual appeal. Thus, existing spinning methods cannot use colored cottons to their fullest advantage.

This study compares machine-spun yarns made from naturally colored cotton using conventional and ARS-patented spinning methods. Scientists from the Southern Regional Research Center have produced the first composite yarns from the fibers using a method called staple-core spinning. The method hides strong synthetic fibers in the center of the yarns by wrapping them with colored cotton. The experimental yarns look and feel like colored cotton but are stronger and more extensible than yarns spun using common methods. The superior properties and appearance of the patented yarns suggest great potential for the naturally colored cottons in a diversity of fabrics. Naturally colored yarns and fabrics do not require chemical dyeing, a benefit to the environment.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1996 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 1439 - 1443
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998