Textile Spotlight: Nettle Fabric
Nettle fabric is an unusual textile that seems to defy logic: as the name implies, this strong, lustrous fabric is derived from the nettle plant. If you’ve ever accidentally stumbled into a nettle bush, you’ll understand why the concept of nettle-based fabric seems so ridiculous. When touched, a “stinging nettle” causes a breakout of a painful, itchy rash!
How can a fabric made from an inflammation-inducing plant possibly be useful, much less worn next to the skin?
The good news is, nettle fabric is perfectly safe to wear, and in fact, is a highly luxurious and sustainable textile. The fabric is made from the fibers within the stalks of the plant, not the silky barbs on the outer surface.
The idea is not a new one either- nettles have been used in food, fabrics and even medicines as far back as the 16th century.
Some notable properties of nettle fabric:
- Despite it’s armored exterior, the fibers inside are surprisingly ideal for textile production.
- The fibers are pliable and a good length to be spun into yarn.
- The final woven fabric is similar to linen- but much stronger (it’s strength even increases when wet) and a bit stiffer, making it ideal for more structured garments.
- It blends nicely with other fibers, which can help to add softness and increase longevity when needed.
In terms of sustainability, using the nettles in textiles is highly ideal.
- The plant grows almost uncontrollably, making it a quickly renewable resource.
- The process involved in the production of the fabric, though labor-intensive, is done by hand.
- This cuts down on chemicals, energy, machinery and pollution that are often involved in the production of other textiles.
- The hand made aspect also adds to the value and luxury of the fabric.
If you are interested in sourcing nettle-based textiles for your line, Sorazora offers a line of organic Himalayan nettle fabrics. The undyed, natural-toned fabrics are spun and woven by hand.