Tag Archives: cotton

A Clothing Garden – Growing Cotton and Flax

raw cotton and cotton seeds

Raw Cotton and Cotton Seeds

We make a big deal about where our food originates from, but what about our clothing? Sure much of it is man-made chemistry, but natural plant fibers also contribute greatly to our daily wardrobes. Think of t-shirts, sweaters, and skirts made of cotton and shirts, pants and jackets made from linen. All originated as plants.

Cotton is a soft, fluffy, natural fiber that grows into a boll, or protective capsule around the seeds of the cotton plant. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal.

No one knows exactly how old cotton is but archeologists have found cotton bolls and pieces of cloth in Mexican caves that date back 7,000 years. In Pakistan, cotton was being grown, spun, and woven into cloth as early as 3,000 B.C.

Linen is considered to be one of the earliest products known to civilization. It is made from the inner stalk of the flax plant and one of the first vegetable fabrics to be woven. It is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.

There is evidence of cloth being made from linen in Mesopotamia and in Turkey as far back as 7000 to 8000 BC.  The flax plant that it comes from is believed to have first been domesticated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. Mummies in Egypt were routinely wrapped in linen.

For info on how to grow cotton see Instructions for Planting Cotton Seeds from CottonsJourney.com.

For more information about Cultivating Flax see fact sheet from Department of Horticulture, Purdue University.

Clothing Garden Curriculum Suggestions:

1) Geography
Flax plants are believed to have originated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent aka “The Cradle of Civilization” Can you locate this area on a map? Why do you think linen clothing was popular in this region?

2) Math
It takes a patch of land of about 20 feet square to grow enough cotton for one common blouse. How many square feet would you need for 12 dozen blouses?

3) History
Cotton is woven into our American History because of Slavery and the Civil War. How did cotton figure into both of these events?

4) Art
Design an outfit for a scarecrow using only cotton and linen.