Just a few lines from my hotel room in Porto to sing the praises of hemp fabric. I have travel-tested it for the last two weeks, either in my suitcase or wearing it, and it is fantastic.
No, you won’t get high when wearing hemp and its association with cannabis has been a misfortune for this fabulous fibre. Australia banned cannabis in the 1922 and other nations did the same in the early and later 20th century. Hemp fibre had been very popular for centuries for all sorts of applications, until nylon hit the market around 1940, ushering in a whole new era of synthetics. Between the new competition and the war on drugs, hemp production was pretty much finished.
But recently hemp has been making a comeback, mostly due to its eco friendly properties. Hemp crops need only a fraction of the water of cotton, don’t need weed killing chemicals and have a short growth cycle from seeding to harvest. A dream crop, one would think.
Nevertheless, hemp fabric is still rare because of the unfortunate link to cannabis, and it is therefore very expensive. There is a cult following prepared to pay the high prices and I know of one shop in my area that sells exclusively hemp textiles. If you are thinking rough fibre ropes or sacks, that is not what devotees are prepared to shell out $$$ for. Hemp fabric is hard to tell apart from linen, except it doesn’t wrinkle nearly as much and becomes soft with wear very quickly, making it beautifully drapey despite its relative thickness, reminiscent of bottom weight tencel.
I was lucky enough to buy some hemp sheets at Aldi, on sale at a good price, with the intentions of using the fabric for garments. This outfit is the StyleArc Bob pants and my TNT (Tried and True) pattern for a summer top, the Tessuti Mandy with cuffs instead of sleeves.
Hemp sews up easily and takes my dye nicely for painting. It is a good alternative to linen, and also very strong and durable, so basic items like white pants will probably be part of my wardrobe for a long time. Anything more trendy like the top has naturally a shorter lifespan, but I can imagine cutting off the sleeves and turning it into a couple of tea towels when the style is no longer current.
This outfit has been in a suitcase for two weeks and then been worn for a couple of days on my trip in Portugal and still looks pretty good.
I have some notes on what not to do when making white pants which are on PatternReview.
And below is a quick video. I am moving my legs a bit to show the drapiness of the hemp fabric. Hope this gives you an idea and doesn’t just look very silly. 🙂
Linked to MMM.
Your outfit looks great even though not recently pressed! Thank you for praising hemp. I don’t know why it doesn’t receive the support and publicity it deserves, in my opinion.
Yes, I really wish they would change all that cotton we are producing in a dry environment like Australia to the much more suitable hemp. It is so nice to wear too.
Gorgeous! Bob’s look so much better without the excess fabric around the waist/hip area. As for Athina – I love this style and I need to stop faffing around and make one. Have you seen Needle
Oops! I meant Athina and Mandy and Needle & Thread. Are you on IG?
IG is one thing we’re I need to stop procrastinating. I never know which hashtags to add, so I haven’t posted anything for ages there. There must be a way to have a standard hashtag list for your postings instead of having to type it all out every time. I do have an account named rivergum, and have been thinking for a while that I should post for people who only want to know pattern and fabric and not the whole long story. On the blog I record details which are useful for me later to look up as much as they may be of interest to some readers.
Wish we could get hemp easily. It sounds ideal.
500 days of sewing said:
Thanks for showing us your great outfit and also thanks for your detailed explanation about hemp fabrics.
Can you add a backlink to yesterday’s Me Made Wednesday post?
The link is in my blog roll permanently, but I can put it at the bottom of the post too if you prefer.
I have not thought about working with hemp fabric, but thanks to your explanation I want to now 🙂 From now on, I will totally look for it. Your outfit screams summer holidays for me, really nice!