What Exactly is Hemp Fabric?

Hemp fabric is a type of textile. The fiber which comes from the stalk of the Cannabis Sativa goes into making it. One of the things about hemp fabric is that it’s extraordinarily durable and tensile. Unfortunately, due to close ties with marijuana and the presence of THC (The psychoactive compound) – farmers continue to face challenges in growing this incredibly beneficial crop trouble-free.

There are two layers to the hemp stalk. The outer layer has rope-like bast fibers and the one on the inside has a woody, pith-like fiber. It’s the outer layer that goes into making the fabric for textile purposes. The inner layer generally goes into making fuel, animal bedding, and building materials.

 

 

After stripping the outer layer from the cannabis Sativa or hemp, it goes through a whole bunch of processes where it is turned into yarn or rope.

What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties 

How is Hemp Fabric Made?

Below is a brief outline of all the stages involved in the making of hemp fabric:

  • Cultivating
  • Harvesting the outer layer by stripping it off of the plant
  • Retting – This is the process where natural fungi, bacteria, and chemicals break down pectins and release them. Pectins are what bind the fibers together. Retting can use anything like soaking it in the water or leaving it out all night on the ground to let the dew do the ‘retting’ naturally.
  • Scutching – Essentially this is the beating of the stem which is meant to separate the fiber from the woody core of hemp.
  • Hackling – This phase involves combining the stems to remove all kinds of unwanted stuff.
  • Roving – This is done to better the strength of the fiber
  • Spinning – It can both be dry or wet spun.

To know more about the detailed process of how hemp fiber is made, visit .

What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties 

Image credit: Hemp stem showing fabric

Types of Hemp Fabric:

1. Bast Fiber

Bast fibers are long. They make up about 1/4th of the stalk. Growers have put Bast Fiber into 2 categories: Primary and Secondary.

Features of Primary Bast are:

  • Longer fiber with up to 50 mm length
  • Less lignin present (6-10%)
  • Higher cellulose density (anywhere up to 60% of the Bast)

 

Features of Secondary Bast fiber:

  • Makes up around 10-30% of the total plant fiber
  • The length is shorter than the primary one
  • Lignin content is higher

 

2. Hurd Fiber

This one also goes by the name ‘shive’. This tiny fiber accounts for around 3/4th of the total hemp stalk. Lignin content in Hurd fiber is rich (up to 30%). It was once thought to be a by-product/waste. Historically, hemp was grown for its long fiber since it was most in demand due to myriad applications. However, with time, many noticeable applications of Hurd fiber were discovered such as use in insulation, animal bedding, etc.

It became even more famous with the introduction of Hempcrete. Since Hurd fiber tends to have a rich composition, it has a unique position in the construction industry that creates stronger and cleaner buildings.

The applications of this fiber further extends well into making pulp and paper, bio-ethanol, mulching for crops, bioplastic, acoustical tiles, and so much more.

What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties 

Image credit: Matti Blume / CC BY-SA 

How Is Hemp Fabric Used?

Hemp fabric’s number one usage continues to remain that in apparel. Originally the fabric gained popularity due to being a novelty item in the market. It caught the attention of those who were already enthusiastic about cannabis.

And, even though it started as a novelty item with a cult following, the fiber has now gained mainstream acceptance due to carrying countless superior qualities.

What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties Image credit: Property of Sanuk USA.

These are some ways in which hemp fabric is used –

  • Regular Clothing – You can find all kinds of garments today made with hemp fabric from dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, hoodies, shirts, children’s clothing to a whole different variety. T-shirts made of hemp fabric are superior to other materials due to being wear and tear-resistant. Cotton T-shirts begin to shrink, fall apart, and warp after a couple of washes which is not the case with hemp t-shirts. They will continue to retain their original shape year after year of usage.
  • Knitting: Knitted stuff where stretchiness and softness are essential such as home decor, wardrobe, bedding, and furniture sheets, etc.
  • Handlooms – Handlooms are made by textile craftsmen. These fabrics come in varying shapes and sizes. These products can range from cordages, home decor, and wearables.
  • Woven and non-woven – The fabric is woven to make stuff like apparel, bags, home mats, etc. The non-woven stuff is used for rough fibers. It goes into making ropes, heavy-duty industrial stuff, and canvases.
  • Blending – Blending hemp fiber with other fabrics gives it that extra touch of awesomeness and makes it even superior. Hemp fiber blends perfectly with Wool, Tencel, Bamboo, Linen, Silk, Cotton, and artificial fabrics like Polyester, etc. When two fibers are in perfect ratio and formulation; the material strength and the overall quality improves dramatically.

What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties 

Image credit: I, Katorisi / CC BY-SA 

Properties of Hemp Fabric:

  • It has 3 times more tensile strength than cotton
  • Does not fade easily even after regular exposure to heat and sunlight
  • After dyeing, the colors are vibrant and last long
  • Blends easily with both synthetic and natural fibers
  • Mold and insect-repellent without needing any added chemicals
  • Fiber doesn’t degrade even after multiple washes
  • With each wash, the fiber softens
  • Highly breathable; perfect for gym wear
  • Low elasticity and less distortion
  • Completely recyclable and 100% biodegradable fabric

 

 

What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties 

Image credit: Halyma / CC BY-SA 

Conclusion

Hemp is one of the most versatile crops ever. It’s better than cotton and other popular crops as it does not demand any pesticides, reduces carbon emission, and saves a ton of water. There’s no reason why hemp farming should not be encouraged on a bigger scale.

 

Have you used hemp fabric?

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What is Hemp Fabric: How It's Made and Its Properties - Hemp fabric is a type of textile that is very durable and tensile.The fiber which comes from the stalk of the Cannabis Sativa goes into making it. It’s better than cotton and other popular crops as it does not demand any pesticides, reduces carbon emission, and saves a ton of water.  #hemp  #hempfabric  #fabric  #hempfarming #textiles  #hempuses  #hempapparel