Ring spun cotton yarn goes through a process where it is spun before it is made into the final product. The yarn from the cotton fabric is twisted and thinned continuously until the strands are very fine cotton fibers. The twisting process allows the short hairs of the cotton to stand out, and this results in a much stronger yarn and more smooth. The more the fiber is twisted, the softer it will be. This type of cotton fabric is typically used to make t-shirts.
You may see a number like 40-singles rung spun when purchasing t-shirts. The number refers to the thread weight. The higher the thread weight number, the finer, softer, and thinner the shirt. When a higher thread weight number is used, the thread is finer and a tighter weave can be achieved. The smaller this number is...means the thicker the yarn is.
Advantages to Ring Spun Cotton
The main advantages of using ring spun cotton is strength and softness. The ring-spinning process twists the cotton fibers together so the fiber bundle can be held together. This process makes ring-spun cotton much more durable than regular cotton. Ring spun cotton is also much softer than regular carded open end cotton. With regular cotton, the fibers run perpendicular to the fiber bundle. With ring spun cotton, the fibers are aligned and all go in the same direction.
Disadvantages to Ring Spun Cotton
Ring spun cotton has a higher tendency to snarl or become intertwined because it is so soft. It is also sometimes difficult to keep the spinning conditions constant, which may cause more unevenness and imperfections with ring spun cotton. And since there are more fibers needed in the yarn cross-section, this type of cotton also may be more expensive. The process to make ring spun cotton costs more, which is why t-shirts made with this type of cotton will cost a little more.
Other Types of Cotton
Combed cotton is an extremely soft cotton because the cotton fibers are specially treated before they are spun into yarn. This type of cotton is also more expensive. Combed cotton will shrink if it is exposed to heat. This means it should never be washed in hot water or dried in a hot dryer. Combed cotton is also a stain resistant fabric.
Pique cotton is a style of weaving that is used with cotton yarn. It is characterized by raised and fine ribbing. Pique cotton will also shrink when exposed to heat so should not be washed in hot water or dried in a hot drier. It also is a stain resistant fabric.
Pima cotton is one of the most superior blends of cotton. This type of cotton is known to be very absorbent and durable. It will shrink, however, if exposed to hot water or a hot drier. It is also a stain resistant fabric.
Carded open end cotton is much cheaper but also feels very different. If you have ever worn a t-shirt that feels very heavy and scratchy then you know what it feels like. T-shirts made with ring spun cotton feel super soft and comfortable. Up close, carded open end fabric is fizzy and creates a very uneven knit, while rung spun is much smoother, finer, and the knit is very consistent.