How is hemp turned into clothing? It works very much like linen, let’s see the entire process:
Hemp plants are ready for harvest in about 4 to 5 months after planting. The timing is crucial to ensure the fibers are at their peak quality. Harvesting involves cutting the stalks of the hemp plants close to the ground.
After harvesting, the hemp stalks undergo a process called retting. Retting is the natural decomposition of the pectin, which binds the fibers to the woody core of the plant. This can be done through two main methods. “Dew Retting”: The hemp stalks are spread on the field and left to be exposed to dew, rain, and sunlight. This process takes several weeks and helps break down the pectin, allowing the fibers to be separated from the woody core. Or “Water Retting”: Alternatively, the stalks can be submerged in water, either in ponds or running water like rivers, for a few days or weeks. Bacteria and microorganisms in the water break down the pectin, loosening the fibers.
Separation of Fibers
After retting, the hemp stalks are dried to remove excess moisture. The dried stalks are then mechanically beaten or crushed to separate the fibers from the woody core. This process is known as decortication.
Scutching is the process of removing the remaining woody shives from the hemp fibers. It involves beating the fibers further to free them from the non-fibrous materials.
The fibers are then hackled, which involves combing them through fine-toothed combs to remove any remaining impurities and to align the fibers in a parallel fashion.
Once the fibers are clean and aligned, they can be spun into yarn using traditional spinning techniques or modern machinery.
The hemp yarn is woven or knitted into fabric. Different weaving patterns can create various types of hemp fabric, ranging from lightweight and breathable to denser and more durable.
Dyeing and Finishing
The hemp fabric may undergo dyeing to achieve the desired colors or patterns. After dyeing, the fabric is finished, which involves processes like washing, softening, and possibly adding other finishes for specific characteristics.
Finally, the hemp fabric is cut and sewn into various clothing items, such as shirts, pants, dresses, and more.
Let’s see all the amazing features that have enabled hemp to make a comeback in the fashion industry
It’s carbon negative
Hemp cultivation absorbs a substantial amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it a carbon-negative crop.
It demands little land usage
Hemp is a high-yield crop, producing more fibers per acre than cotton. This makes it a more sustainable choice, requiring less land for cultivation.
It is soil-friendly
While cotton depletes the soil, hemp plants actually enrich it (it is said to return 60-70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil). Additionally, hemp has the remarkable ability to purify the soil by removing pollutants, like cadmium, through a process known as phytoremediation.
It does not require chemical fertilizers and pesticides
Hemp is naturally pest-resistant, eliminating the need for pesticides and herbicides during cultivation, unlike cotton, which heavily relies on chemical inputs.
It needs less water
Hemp requires significantly less water than cotton during its growth period. Cotton is infamous for its high water usage, contributing to water scarcity in many regions worldwide.
It is durable
Hemp fibers are known for their incredible strength, making hemp textiles highly durable and long-lasting. Clothes made from hemp can withstand frequent washing and wear without losing their shape or color.
It gets better and better with time
Hemp is known for wearing in rather than wearing out, it is famous for becoming even softer with each wash and wear.
It boasts breathability and comfort
Hemp fabric has excellent breathability, allowing air circulation and moisture absorption. This makes it a comfortable choice, especially for warm climates or active wear.
It has antibacterial properties
Hemp fibers contain natural antibacterial agents that can help resist the growth of bacteria, keeping garments fresh and odor-free for extended periods.
It offers UV protection
Hemp offers excellent sun protection, being the most resilient natural fiber against harsh UV rays.
It is biodegradable
Hemp is a biodegradable material, meaning that discarded hemp textiles will naturally decompose without leaving harmful residues or polluting the environment.* *It depends on many factors, discover more on our blog “BIODEGRADABILITY IN FASHION: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW”