How is Bamboo fabric made?

Bamboo fabric comes from the Bamboo plant. Bamboo is a fast growing perennial, evergreen plant. It can grow up to 100cm in a 24 hour period, under the right conditions. Bamboo is very environmentally friendly, needing no pesticides and very little care. This makes it an ideal material for eco friendly and sustainable fabrics.

Bamboo Manufacture

Firstly, to manufacture bamboo fabrics, the bamboo must be harvested. The softer leaves and the pulp are then extracted. These are then mechanically crushed. Once this has been done, the Bamboo is then soaked in chemicals which produce a cellulosic material. This is then fed through spinnerets and put into an acid bath. This process creates viscose or rayon. This can be spun into yarns which can then be woven or knitted into a fabric. Another way to produce bamboo fibres is a process that is similar to the way flax or hemp is produced. The woody part of the bamboo plant is crushed mechanically and then broken down further using a natural enzyme. Once this pulp material has gone through the washing and retting process to break down the walls of the processed bamboo, it is now a bast fibre and can be spun into a yarn, and ultimately made into a fabric.

Technically the fabric produced should be called viscose made from bamboo rather than Bamboo fabric. This is because to make Bamboo workable and versatile to be used as a textile it needs to be broken down with harsh chemicals into its soft, cellulose state. This can then be put through a spinner to make a yarn. This means that Bamboos use as an environmental textile is compromised as it doesn’t meet up with the governing bodies’ standards for environmental certification and can lead to difficulty with the labelling of this fabric.

Bamboo Properties

  • Can be dyed easily
  • Eco friendly
  • Cool
  • Can be made to imitate other fabrics such as linen, wool, cotton and silk
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Highly absorbent
  • Luxurious
  • Soft
  • Smooth Handle
  • Good Drape
  • Not a good insulator. This means it is ideal in hot climates
  • Dry Clean only
  • Durable
  • No Stretch
  • Usually mixed with other fibres
  • Doesn’t retain shape well

End uses of Bamboo

  • Martial Arts weapons in Asia, because of its strength
  • Bamboo fabric has been used since ancient times to make paper
  • Can be hollowed out and used to make musical instruments
  • Traditional food in Chinese diet
  • Major food source for Pandas, Elephants, Chimps and Humans
  • Can be used as a medicine
  • Thin strips are woven together to make hats and shoes
  • Used in building work and construction
  • Also used in firecrackers

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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