Hemp—a Versatile, Environmentally Friendly Fabric
Hemp is a strong, durable fiber. The hemp plant is naturally disease and pest resistant; it grows in a variety of soils and can be grown without the use of dangerous chemicals.
Hemp is woven into a lightweight linen-like fabric and a heavier canvas fabric. Both fabrics naturally resist mold and mildew. Lightweight hemp fabric comes in a variety of colors and is ideal for spring suits and dresses. It also makes great shirts for both men and women. Like linen, hemp gets softer and more lovely with use.
Durable, attractive canvas hemp is ideal for tote bags and re-useable grocery bags. It is also perfect for aprons. Versatile hemp is often used for drapery.
Hemp is stronger and more absorbent than cotton. The two fabrics are often woven together for softness and durability.
Hemp is easy to sew and is an excellent alternative to linen. This versatile fabric is reasonably priced and machine-washable. Lightweight, apparel quality hemp can used with any clothing pattern calling for linen.
Also like linen, hemp does ravel easily. It can be edgefinished with pinking shears or tricot/nylon seam binding. Finishing on a serger with an overlock stitch is also an option. I wouldn’t recommend using a zig zag stitch for edgefinishing of hemp or linen; these fabrics are simply too prone to raveling for a zig zag finish to be effective or attractive. Although a zig zag finish is a quick option, it is better, in my opinion, to take the extra time to finish a prized garment with as much attention to detail on the inside as you put on the outside.
For more about versatile hemp, see my posting “Hemp Fabric—Facts and Myths.”