How is hemp fabric made?

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We're frequently asked
Why don’t more people wear hemp clothing?
and quite frankly they're spot on.
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Everyone should, and if everyone did - the world would be a much better place!

Far less water would be pumped onto fields, rivers would be cleaner from the lack of pesticides and chemicals, and more people would have elegant, more versatile clothing that gets softer and softer over time.

In short, more people don’t wear hemp clothing because they haven’t heard of it.

This is mostly due to the US government making it illegal to grow in the 19th century due to it’s association with cannabis, but also partly because it is extremely laborious to make. Although it’s well worth the trouble for the elegant, soft, sustainable fabric that hemp makes - an enormous amount of work goes into creating the unique fabric our shirts are made from. 

two images of hemp plants being grown which will then create the fibre to make hemp fabric

Hemp is known for…well..being quite unknown..but it’s the ideal fabric, crumpling lightly next to the skin and getting softer and softer over time, whilst also being a brilliantly strong and durable fabric that’s hypoallergenic (resistant to bacteria and so doesn’t hold odours!)

 

HOW IS HEMP CLOTHING MADE?

 

Here is a walk through of the many steps from field to fabric: 

  1. Cultivation - Hemp seeds are sown densely to ensure a greater yield per acre from the tall slender stems. Most of the hemp in the world is grown in rural China, where hemp was first turned into fabric and who still lead the way in quality hemp fabric.
  2. Harvesting -  Done just after the hemp plant flowers when the fibres are softest.
  3. Retting - Not the nicest of words..or processes..but vital! Here naturally occurring bacteria and chemicals react to break down the hemp fibers. In ancient times this was done by lying the plants in wet grass for a month, nowadays it’s done in large water tanks.

     

    an image of the process of making hemp fabric

    4. Breaking - The stems are crushed and broken in a scary machine. 
    5. Scutching - Said broken stems are beaten which separates the fibre from the woody core of the hemp plant. 
    6. Hackling - The fibres are combed to take out any woody parts and make them finer and finer.
    7. Roving - Before being wound on spinning bobbins, the fibre is twisted and stretched to improve strength.
    8. Weaving - the fine threads are pulled off the spinning bobbins and processed into fine fabric by expert hands. 

    9. Dyeing - Hemp's natural colouring is greige, an oatmeal like colouring. But to turn the newly made fabric into vibrant, contemporary colours needs lots of help from large dyeing tanks and colouring.

    10. Shirtmaking - The fun part! Time to cut the fabric, thread the many constituent parts of a shirt together and add the buttons and labels!

      an image of two stages in the process of hemp fabric being made


      It’s a long, practised process that has been perfected over thousands of years to bring the best results and create finer and finer fabrics.

      The products of which Babble & Hemp buys from the finest mills and turns into beautifully made men’s shirts which are worn around the world today as more and more people learn of the incredible potential that hemp has to one day replace cotton as the staple fabric. 

       

      a closeup image of high quality hemp fabric which Babble & Hemp then uses to make hemp shirts

       

      We'd love you to see the end product of this journey, click here to see Babble & Hemp's collection of 100% hemp men's shirts.

       

       

       

      Here are some other brands that also make hemp clothing, or manufacture hemp fabric. 

      Hemp Fabric Lab: https://hempfabriclab.com

      Nature's Fabrics: https://naturesfabrics.com

      Thought: https://www.wearethought.com