Fabrics made of a polyester cotton blend are exactly what they sound like, made from fibres of both the natural cotton and the synthetic polyester. While both fibres have pros and cons, a blend is often used in garments to give the consumer the benefits of both.
Polyester is a manmade polymer material. It is made from coal, air, water and petroleum products. Polyester is a strong fibre that keeps its shape and therefore resists wrinkling. The fibre does not withstand medium to high temperatures and melts and burns at the same time, therefore ironing polyester must be done at a cool temperature, if at all. Threads of polyester last for a long time and wear well, so are used for many garments and sewing projects. Polyester does not shrink like its natural counterpart and holds dye extremely well, a good thing for textile artists, but bad for stain-removal from polyester items. Polyester was extremely popular in the 1950s but since then is used more as a blend than the main fibre used for garments or fabric.
Cotton is an all-natural fibre made from the pod of a cotton plant. It is the principal fibre used in making the world's clothing. Cotton is known for being light, cool, comfortable and absorbent. Many people describe cotton as a fabric that "breathes." It is also easy to dye and to clean, though dyes do not hold as fast to natural fibres as to the synthetic fibres of polyester. Cotton can withstand high temperatures, but does wrinkle easily and shrinks with washing.
A polyester cotton blend can be versatile, as it most likely retains the coolness and lightness of the cotton fibre, but also adds the strength, durability and wrinkle-resistance of polyester. A polyester cotton blend should only shrink slightly in comparison to a garment or fabric that is 100 per cent cotton. This blend is often preferred by at-home sewers and quilters as it is extremely easy to sew.
Adding polyester to cotton can cause unattractive pilling of the fabric and make the fabric not withstand high temperatures as well. Many people prefer pure cotton to a polyester blend cotton in clothing that they need to breathe, as the blend does not breathe or stay as cool as pure cotton.
Polyester cotton blend is mostly used in the garment industry to make clothing that people want to be able to wash and wear without having to iron and that will be tougher than a 100 per cent cotton blend and withstand more washing. Many home sewers prefer polyester cotton blends as it is more forgiving and easy to sew than pure cotton, as it wrinkles and shrinks less.