How to make Hemp Fabric
Hemp – Sustainable Fashion
The purpose of this blog is to encourage the future production of Hmong organic fabrics and fashion.
In the norther mountainous region of Vietnam there are several ethnic minority groups keeping the tradition of hand producing hemp.
Hemp is locally grown, harvested and loomed by almost every woman in the Hmong villages. Hemp has a very low environmental impact and has been recognized by major brands in being the fabric of the future. It can be grown and processed without any chemical treatments and yields three times more raw fiber than cotton. Hemp does not wear out as cotton does, rather softens over time.
- Hemp seeds are planted very close together to ensure straight hemp reeds. The plant takes about 4 months to grow to desired height, typically 6 to 7 feet tall.
- The hemp stalks are harvested and brought to the homes. The hemp will be dried in the sun for 1 week or more depending on the weather. The night before the stalk is stripped the hemp is left on a mud floor to absorb moisture. The moisture will allow for a smoother stripping process.
- Once dried and left on the mud floor over night the hemp stalk is broken from the center. The middle potion of the outer layer is stripped away with fingernails or teeth, the process is repeated until the entire outer layer is stripped away leaving 4- 5 fine stands.
- The strands are then pounded with a 3-foot mortar and pestle to create a soft consistency, making it easier to work with. The fiber is then twisted together into long threads. This is done by wrapped the fibers around the hand and joining two fibers end-to-end and then carefully twisting two fibers into one long thread.
- The finished thread is then wrapped around a large winding tool and into skeins. The skein is then washed in boiling water and ash, this naturally bleaches the thread. The skein is then left in the sun to dry for 1-2 days.
- Finally, the hemp thread is ready to be woven into fabric using a traditional wooden loom. The wooden looms basic purpose is to hold the threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads.