What Is Ramie Fabric?

Have you ever come across ramie fabric and wondered what it is? Do you want to know? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, you’ve come to the right place. 

Whether you work with fabric on a daily basis or simply want to learn more, we’ve got a guide that will tell you everything you need to know about what ramie fabric is.

What Is Ramie Fabric?

In our guide, we’ll show you what it is, how it is used, how it is harvested, and the most common advantages and disadvantages. 

If you need to learn more about ramie, make sure you keep reading. We’ll turn you into an expert in no time!

Ramie Fabric – What Is It?

Let’s start by telling you exactly what ramie fabric is.

Classified as a cellulose fiber, ramie is a linen-like fiber made from the Chinese nettle plant. To be more precise, it is made from the stalks of this plant.

As a result, ramie is a highly sustainable material and a fantastic alternative we can use instead of synthetic fabrics. Ramie has seen a huge increase in popularity recently because of this. 

Eco-friendly fabrics are always seen as a solution to the problems we face with fabrics that aren’t sustainable. Aside from being sustainable, this fabric performs brilliantly.

It is resistant to mildew, bacteria, and mold. It can also be grown without herbicides, chemicals, or pesticides.

Also known by the name grass linen or China grass, ramie belongs to the Urticaceae family. Its scientific name is Boehmeria Nivea. 

What Type Of Material Is Ramie?

When it comes down to what type of material ramie is, it is typically referred to as vegetable fiber.

This type of fiber is well-known for its toughness and added length. These types of material are also known scientifically as cellulose fibers. 

As far as the word ramie is concerned, the word comes from the word rami. Rami is a Malayan word that translates to hole in English.

How Is Ramie Cultivated?

Now, you know more about what ramie is, let’s look at how it is cultivated. Ramie has been cultivated for over 6,000 years.

This makes it one of the oldest fibers used in the world. The fiber is grown in sandy and loamy soil with a Ph of 5.5 to 7.0.

A warm climate is critical to the cultivation of this fabric. It also requires rainfall between 1,500 to 3,000mm a year. The best temperature for growing the fabric is 23 to 35 degrees Celsius. 

Grown right the way across Eastern Asia, the plant grows up to 2.5 meters before it is harvested. The Chinese nettle plant grows like a shrub. 

From the Chinese nettle plant, two types of ramie grow. These are white and green ramie. 

How To Harvest Ramie?

When ready, the ramie can be harvested from the Chinese nettle plant.

The fiber is usually harvested two to three times a year. However, it can sometimes be harvested upwards of five times a year if the harvest is bountiful.

Unlike other crops, chemical processing is required to degum the ramie fibers.

The harvesting process takes place when the nettle plants start to flower. Flowering demonstrates that the plant has reached a maximum fiber level. 

The stems of the plant are harvested by cutting the stems above the roots. The core can then be broken and stripped. The stems husk is removed whilst the plants are still fresh. 

The bark or husk is then dried and the fiber is extracted.

Ramie Properties

Ramie Properties

Ramie has a wide variety of different properties that make it a useful fiber for us to use. We’ve outlined the key properties you should be aware of below.

  • Ramie is a super strong fiber that can be up to 8 times stronger than fabrics like cotton.
  • It gives fabrics a silky appearance.
  • Its uneven fibers give ramie a linen-like appearance.
  • It holds shape well and is resistant to wrinkling.
  • It is usually blended with other fibers as it isn’t as durable.
  • It doesn’t dye easily.
  • Ramie doesn’t shrink as easily as other fibers.
  • It isn’t very elastic.
  • It is a stiffer and brittler fiber.

What Is Ramie Used For?

So, what exactly is ramie used for? Well, ramie is most commonly used to make brush holders, wash bags, sewing thread, twine, fishing nets, and filter cloths. 

It can also be used to make fabrics. These fabrics can then be used to make household furnishings and clothes.

For clothing, it is usually mixed with other fibers to create a more elastic material. One common item of clothing made using ramie is swimsuits. 

Fine gauge ramie has a sheer effect that gives swimwear an elegant and sexy appearance. Shorter ramie fibers and leftovers are used to make paper.

The fiber is also used in the manufacturing of fire hoses, canvas’, cigarette papers, and parachute fabrics. Occasionally, ramie ribbon can be used as fine bookbinding instead of linen tape too. 

Ramie Fabric Advantages

Let’s finish off by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of ramie fabric. We’ll start with the advantages!

  • Ramie fabric is naturally resistant to mildew, alkali, insect attacks, light, rotting, and bacteria.
  • Ramie is incredibly absorbent.
  • You can easily dye ramie.
  • It is resistant to stains.
  • This fabric increases in strength when wet.
  • Ramie can withstand heat.
  • Ramie holds its shape well.
  • The fibers can be bleached.
  • Ramie is strong and durable.

Ramie Fabric Disadvantages

Now for some disadvantages. You’ll be pleased to hear they’re aren’t many.

  • Ramie isn’t very elastic.
  • Lacks resilience.
  • Ramie is stiff and brittle compared to other fabrics.
  • Ramie is quite expensive to produce.
  • It doesn’t have much resistance to abrasion.

Final Thoughts

Now you’ve made your way through this guide, you should have a much better understanding of ramie.

You should now know exactly what it is, how it is cultivated, how it is harvested, how it is used, and the pros and cons that come with it.

Ramie fabric is a versatile fabric that can be used for a wide range of things. It might be expensive to produce but the fact it is eco-friendly and sustainable well outweighs any negatives.

Maybe now you know more about this fabric, you can use it when working with other fabrics.

Willa Price
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