Woven fabrics with hemp

Why is hemp such an attractive material and why does it have such an appeal on so many people? Maybe it is because hemp fabrics always have a distinct character, there's always this little extra that distinguishes it from other materials. Maybe it is because hemp is so strong and versatile? Or because the plant grows so easy and fast without extra irrigation and doesn't need herbicides or insecticides? The fact is that all of these reasons are true. Hemp, which was very important in the past, is making a strong come back. The woven fabrics on these pages are not all made from 100% hemp, we also present blends of hemp with organic cotton, wool or tencel. The fabrics are here arranged according to their use: fashion or interior.

Hemp yarns and fabrics are very suitable for apparel. The fibre has specific properties which distinguish it sharply from most other materials and make it unique. Hemp doesn’t enclose much air and has relatively poor insulation properties. In this it resembles linen: hemp fabrics always feel fresh and cool, a distinct advantage for summer clothing. In addition hemp is highly absorbent. It takes up water rapidly and also releases it quickly. On hot days this helps in regulating the microclimate between body and clothing. Hemp is well supported when worn directly on the skin even though it is stiffer, harder and less elastic than cotton and is therefore less supple. These properties also cause the crinkling of the material, when used in woven and 100% hemp fabrics, although this property may also be considered as part of its ‘natural charm’. In the jerseys this crinkling is far less than in the woven fabrics.

Hemp

Hemp is a so called bast fiber and is made from the stems of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). It is one of the oldes fibres used for textile production. Before cotton became a mass product and conquered the European markets, hemp was one of the most used and beloved natural fibres. Even in the beginning of the twentieth century it was grown all over Europe. Today the market is dominated by Chinese hemp. It is a highly valued natural product that is applied in fashion, interior design and because of it's strength also in bio-composites.

Clothing comfort

Hemp yarns and fabrics are very suitable for apparel. The fibre has specific properties which distinguish it sharply from most other materials and make it unique. Hemp doesn’t enclose much air and has relatively poor insulation properties. In this it resembles linen: hemp fabrics feel fresh and cool, a distinct advantage for summer clothing. In addition hemp is highly absorbent. It takes up water rapidly and also releases it quickly. On hot days this helps in regulating the microclimate between body and clothing. Hemp is well supported when worn directly on the skin even though it is stiffer, harder and less elastic than cotton and is therefore less supple. These properties also cause the crinkling of the material, when used in woven fabrics, although this property may also be considered as part of its ‘natural charm’.

Interior

The material can also be applied in interiors. Its strength makes it suitable for upholstering and other applications such as curtains. The fiber often shows some irregularities (depending on how it is spun) which may give the fabric a rustic look.

Sustainable hemp

Hemp is considered to be one of the most sustainable textiles known. The plant doesn’t require irrigation during growth, has almost no natural enemies (insects) and therefore needs no treatment with pesticides. Because it grows very fast (up to four metres in just a couple of months) weeds don’t stand a chance, don’t hamper the growth of the hemp, and herbicides are not necessary. Hemp is a natural product, it is 100% biodegradable and recyclable and feels very nice on the skin.

Ecological advantages of hemp

  • 100% biodegradable
  • no irrigation needed
  • no chemical treatment

Hemp almost disappeared in Europe and Northern America in the 1930’s, not only because of the competition of cotton and synthetic fibres, but also as a result of anti drug legislation. The ‘industrial’ hemp that is now used in textile applications hardly contains any of the psychoactive component THC. Because hemp is today widely appreciated as a sustainable fiber, it is now making a slow come back in Europe. One of the problems is that, together with the machines used in the different stages of the textile making process, much knowledge has disappeared.

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