October 11, 2015 2 min read 3 Comments

Have you sewn with hemp fabric before? I hope you have! It's wonderful, not finicky, and makes beautiful garments.
vintage photo harvesting industrial hemp
Hemp, specifically industrial hemp, has come a long way over the years. Industrial hemp is grown as a separate crop from the other type of hemp most people know as cannabis or marijuana. While cannabis is grown to be used as a medication or mind altering substance, industrial hemp is non-psychoactive and grown to make a variety of items such as rope, paper, and (my personal favorite) textiles! (aka fabric).

Industrial hemp makes a beautiful, strong, and long lasting fabric, and is considered to be the most environmentally friendly fabric you can buy. It grows extremely fast in almost any kind of climate, does not exhaust the soil, uses little water, is very resistant to insects and disease, and requires no pesticides or herbicides.

Wasting water is no joke these days, as our demand for it becomes higher and droughts increase. When growing cotton, it is said that you need about 1400 gallons of water to grow one pound of cotton, whereas with hemp you need half that amount of water to produce three times the amount of industrial hemp in the same amount of space. So, less space needed, less water needed, more textile produced.

I think one of the best parts of hemp is that it is very much like linen (from the flax plant) when made into a fabric, and it gets softer and more luxurious with age. Unlike cotton and other fabrics, it doesn’t get that dingy worn out look with multiple washes, instead it becomes an heirloom item that can only be attained with time and use. This is probably why hemp clothing is said to last three times longer than cotton. So, when you look at the price tag on a piece of hemp clothing and think, “That’s way more expensive than normal!” Consider the fact that you’ll get three times more use out of it, so it’s actually less expensive. And nicer. And better on the environment.

I also love sewing with hemp fabric because it doesn't seem to be nearly as dusty! When I first began sewing for a living, I was surprised to see how much dust accumulates in my studio in a short period of time from all the cutting, ironing, and sewing fabric. In my opinion, hemp fabrics seem to produce the least amount of dust. It also does not shrink up crazy amounts when washed and dried like many fabrics I’ve tested. 

All in all, I love hemp and will continue to use it for as long as I make things (so basically, forever) and will continue to spread the word on it’s wonderful uses. I hope you do too :-) 

3 Responses

Marcia Roberts
Marcia Roberts

July 08, 2020

Glad to hear about your experiences with sewing hemp fabric. I can vouch for the easy of use and wearability of the fabric,, whether woven into a dress fabric (the first one I bought have worn for nearly 30 yrs), or knitted into an afgan (one I bought as a gift for my daughter-in-law, which her family still uses after about 17 years.

Currently I am in the process of mending the aforementioned hemp dress because of fraying around the neck opening and sleeve openings. It is a loose-fitting shift dress, with scoop neck and sleeveless. The neck edge, sleeve edge are finished and bound by simply turning over the fabric, sewing it down, and “edge stiching” the edges remaining on the turndown. Seams and hem are turned over twice and then sewn down. I am cutting fresh linen fabric to bind the sleeve and neck openings, and wonder what is the best way to prevent further fraying along these edges?


January 13, 2020

Hey I am wondering what is the thinnest hemp thread you have found? Many thanks :)


March 16, 2019

Hi! I want to start sewing with this amazing fabric and searching for information what to use for thread to the sewing machine, could you please recommend some good thread that I can use for this lovely fabric?! And also a question if you need an overlock machine?!

Many thanks in advance!

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