When it comes to cotton, size does matter. In fact, size is everything. What's important is the length of the cotton fiber, also known as the "staple" - the fine little strands that make up the white fluff on a cotton plant. These fluffy balls are technically called "bolls," and our entire team here at Feather Baby spends a lot of time thinking about them. That's our job. Most people need to keep a few things in mind when it comes to cotton—especially when they're shopping for soft, high-quality baby clothes.
The most important thing to remember is that all cottons aren't the same. With a staple length of just 2 cm, short-staple cotton is the cheapest you'll find at the mall and in big-box stores. The trouble with low-grade cotton is that the short staples will poke out of the thread, resulting in fabrics that are weaker, feel coarser, and pill easily. Though a new shirt might feel soft in the store, it may not hold up after a few washes.
One grade higher is long-staple cotton, with staples that are about 3 cm long. Noticeably softer than short-staple cotton, long-staple cotton is often used to make bed sheets. You've probably shopped for new sheets and seen labels reading "Egyptian cotton," a term that actually doesn't mean anything specific about the cotton's staple length. It just means that the cotton is from Egypt and could very well be a short-staple variety. If you've gotten 100% cotton sheets from a big-box store and still found them to be scratchy, the sheets were probably made from short-staple cotton. With fabric, you get what you pay for.
The best of the best is extra-long-staple cotton, including Pima cotton, with staple lengths of up to 4 cm. That might not sound like much, but it's twice as long as short-staple and makes a huge difference in the fineness and quality of each individual thread.
When Pima's extra fine threads are knitted together, the result is a supple fabric that's extraordinarily soft and smooth. There's nothing else quite like it.
Extra-long staples also produce threads that are extra strong. With our popular lightweight jersey, for example, the fabric is so light and sheer that, when stretched, it's practically see-through. But because of the remarkably strong thread we use— made exclusively for Feather Baby — all of our knits simply hold their shape better.
On top of everything else, fabrics made from Pima last longer and are no more difficult to care for than those made from short-staple cotton: they fray less, pill less, wrinkle less, and even fade less. While you can treat Feather Baby the same as any of your regular cotton items, their superior quality means they only get softer and softer with each wash.