story to find out more.
Fabrics made from
cotton-flax blends hold promise for a new generation of clothing that's cooler
to wear. The flax (brown fibers) and cotton (white fibers) shown are spun into
yarns (spools, top) to make woven denim (dark blue) and knitted fabric (beige).
Click the image for more information about it.
Flax Adds Performance Features to Cotton
Textiles By Rosalie Marion Bliss
November 17, 2005
Denim, the sturdy cotton fabric used to make blue jeans, has always
been cool. But it's about to get a whole lot cooler.
During hot summer weather, classic blue jeans can feel heavy under the
weight of absorbed moisture. Now, Agricultural Research Service scientists
and engineers have created a cotton-flax denim blend that will make jeans more
comfortable to wear even in summer heat.
Denim is one of the largest commodity fabrics produced in the world.
Flax is nearly three times stronger than cotton, making it among the strongest
natural fibers known. Clothing materials, such as woven denims and knitted
fabrics made from these particular cotton-flax blends, could be compared to a
new, nonwrinkling form of linen.
Cotton Quality Research Station in Clemson, S.C., mechanical engineer
A. Foulk has been working with technicians to blend cotton with flax to
create new yarns. The specific ratio of the new blends imparts "moisture
management" to woven denim and knitted fabrics. The work is being done at the
station's model, state-of-the-art spinning facility.
Adding flax to clothing fabric helps keep skin cool partly because the
flax improves moisture wicking, the ability of fabric to pull moisture away
from the skin. Another value-added feature is air permeability, the ability of
fabric to dry quickly. The researchers are evaluating cotton-flax blends for
use in athletic performance and other apparel.
The Clemson station's researchers are also embedding flax fibers into
polymers to create composite materials and nonwoven sheets for various
The station is now looking for additional industry partners, including
mill and apparel manufacturers, to take the technologies to the next level of
Flax has been found to be a good candidate for growing in rotation
with cotton in the Southeast. In addition, the byproducts from processing
natural flax fibers are fully recyclable, but those generated from processing
synthetic fibers generally are not.
about the research in the November 2005 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.