Forgotten Fabrics: Linen, Hemp & Jute – More Than Just Sustainable Materials, Comfortable & Breathable
If you’re looking for healthy choices here are 3 fabrics you should really educate yourself about:
Linen – an Organic Fabric With Ancient Roots
Linen is a fabric made from flax fibres. It has been in continuous production since at least 4000 B.C.E, from whence there is evidence of a sustained linen industry. It may have been produced from wild flax even before this time. Linen is also mentioned in passages of the bible and other historical religious texts.
Linen’s best known attributes are its ability to absorb and release water quickly, and how the fabric continues to feel cool and dry to the touch even in hot humid weather. Linen is also lint free and becomes softer the more it is washed and/or manipulated. Organic linen can be found in shades of ivory, ecru, tan, or grey.
Linen is a very durable and strong fabric, with low elasticity, so it is often used for draped or looser fitting styles. Linen can usually be safely machine washed and dried, however, ironing should be avoided as it can break the fibres.
Hemp – Not Just For Hippies
In modern times the use of hemp has been reduced or even banned because of its association to marijuana. Hemp cultivars that are being grown for its fibres are taller and have very low concentrations of THC, and so are easily distinguished from cultivars grown for marijuana production.
Items ranging from rope, to fabrics, to industrial materials can be made from hemp fibre. Pure hemp has a texture similar to linen. Fabrics that are made from a mixture of hemp and other organic fabrics (such as silk) baost a huge variety of textures and properties. Hemp can be grown quickly, without chemicals, and with very little water, making it an ideal fibre to cultivate cheaply and organically even on marginal lands.
Jute – Paper-Bag-Princess’ Fashionable Upgrade
Jute is the name of the plant that is most commonly associated with burlap (North America), Hessian (Europe) or gunny cloth. However, Jute is actually extremely versatile and fabrics made of pure Jute can mimic silk, wool, cotton, and heavy duty twines used in ropes and industrial applications.
Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibres and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. Much like hemp, jute can be grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or irrigation and so is good for the land and a profitable crop for farmers working marginal lands. Because jute is so inexpensive to grow, it is also an ideal fibre for fair trade initiatives.
Jute is regularly used in the production of clothes, usually in blends or mixes with other organic fibres such as wool or cotton. It is considered to be an unusually soft and comfortable fabric and popularity for jute clothes has increased significantly over the last decade.