During the American Civil War of 1861, price of the Egyptian cotton exports increased throughout Europe from about $16 million dollars in 1862 to $56 million dollars in 1864.
Cotton tends to be the most imported and exported product in the world. It belongs to a plant family similar to that of hibiscus and okra. The real origins of cotton are debatable as there are no exact records maintained. However, scientists have discovered that cotton was cultivated extensively in the Indus Valley of Pakistan as early as 3,000 B.C. Similar discoveries have been made around the world, one such discovery dates back as far as 7,000 years where cotton balls and clothes were found from Mexican caves. Egypt is perhaps the only country known to produce cotton since ancient times.
The Arab merchants ushered in cotton clothing to the European market around 800 AD. By 1,500 AD, cotton became famous throughout the world. Cotton is considered to have penetrated the American soils in Florida during the year 1556 and in Virginia in 1607. By 1616, the US colonies were producing cotton along the banks of the James River in Virginia.
Egyptian Cotton Vs. Cotton Sateen
◆ The ancient Egyptian cotton was not as durable and soft as the modern one. The modern cotton production is credited to Mohammad Ali who is also referred to as the founding father of modern Egypt. It was he who introduced commercial production of cotton in 1822 after a chance discovery of Ethiopian cotton called 'Maho' by a Frenchman named Jumel. After a series of successful productions, he extensively cultivated the crop throughout the Delta region and began to sell it at fixed price every year.
◆ Egyptian cotton is also known as the 'King of Cotton' and is woven from the species of Gossypium barbadense. This crop is also produced in Peru, West Indies, and mostly the North American regions. The Gossypium Barbadense plants don't contain a lot of lint and hence the Egyptian cotton resists pilling making it highly durable. It can probably last for 40 to 50 years under proper fabric care. It is woven extremely tight into a sheet with a high thread count which retains its softness over the years.
◆ It produces extra-long thin fibers about 1 3/8 inch which are also known as extra-long staples, hence it gets the ELS label. The thread count of this luxuriously soft material can vary from 60 to 800 or even higher. Egyptian cotton sheets with a 800 thread count or higher are known to be the most beneficial pick while considering the dual qualities of gentleness and strength. Perhaps this feature of the fabric warrants its exorbitant price tag.
◆ Egyptian cotton sheets don't form little balls on the fabric surface or raise much lint and hence is an excellent choice for those suffering from dust allergies. This fabric is extremely airy and does not suffocate during the warm summer months. It also retains the body heat during the cold winter months thus making it comfortable for use round the year.
◆ Egyptian cotton sheets project a luxurious, crisp, ironed look with a matte or rustic effect, they soften only after repeated wash.
◆ A genuine Egyptian cotton can be identified through a black triangular logo that outlines the white cotton balls and the words Egyptian cotton beneath it inscribed into the trademark symbol.
◆ Proper care of the fabric can be taken by washing them separately in lukewarm water with a mild soap or detergent. It can either be hung in fresh air to dry, or dried in the dryer on a tumble dry low setting. It is preferable not to use iron on this fabric as it can be smoothed out with hands.
◆ 'Sateen' is not the texture of the fabric rather the weaving process through which the Cotton Sateen is obtained. It is not 100% cotton as it is blended with the fabric rayon to give it a silken feel. The process of blending threads and treating it with lye to give it strength and durability and produce it into sateen is called 'mercerization'.
◆ It has a high thread count which varies from 200 to 400 plus a glossy sheen. Sateen fabric is woven at 45 degree angle which produces a soft and gentle fabric with a drape-like feel. Hence they are also a popular fabric for making drapes.
◆ It is highly resistant to mildew and considerably breathable fabric. Drawbacks include lack of crispness and tends to wrinkle easily. Moreover for people who perspire at night, it's not a good choice as dampness of the sheets can cause friction and can become uncomfortable for the skin.
◆ Sateen weaves tend to pill, wear, tear easily and faster. It tends to develop holes, plus it lacks the durability or lifespan like the Egyptian cotton. It basically costs cheaper in the market.
◆ The only way to deal with the wrinkling tendency of this fabric after it emerges out of the dryer is to remove it when it is still slightly damp and ease the creases out with hands. If it is already wrinkled, then put a damp washcloth and spin the dryer again to make it wrinkle-free.
If you wish to dress your bed like a king, then Egyptian Cotton is the opulent choice; whereas if you are tight on budget and still want to drape your abode in silk then Cotton sateen fits the bill.