The Ramie fabric might be something that many people have never heard of. Have you ever wondered what material is ramie? The Ramie fabric is similar to linen and is categorized as a “cellulose fiber” along with linen, rayon, and cotton. The fibers of the Ramie fabric are extracted from China grass, a nettle plant. The plant looks a lot like European nettle, except that it has no prickles. One of the main purposes of the Ramie fibers is to create the fabric, which in turn is used for multiple purposes like clothing, making Egyptian shrouds, and as a substitute for cotton fabric.
Is Ramie a Highly Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Fiber?
Ramie is a one-of-a-kind plant that happens to be quite sustainable and eco-friendly. While growing, it does not require any chemicals like pesticides as it is naturally prone to bacteria, fungi, rot, etc. There is no weed growth; hence it does not need herbicides. The best part is it can be harvested up to 6 times a year. Some studies have suggested that the plant can be harvested up to 8 times. Ramie plant can survive up to 20 years and resists the growth of bacteria and mildew, making it highly sustainable among other cellulose fabrics. Due to its sustainability, ramie fiber is often considered a “vegan” alternative to worm silk.
The ramie fiber originated from the ramie plant. There are two variants of the plant white ramie and black ramie. The plant grows in the warmer regions and has fast growth, and does not require any external help.
History of What Material is Ramie?
A native to China, the fabric has been in use for almost 6000 years and is ranked among the oldest, most sustainable fabrics of all time. During the era of 5000 – 6000 B.C. Egyptians used the Ramie fabric to cover their mummies. Today the biggest producers of Ramie fabric are Korea. Philippines, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia. For centuries, the Ramie fiber has been grown in China and is known as “Zhuma” in the native language.
During the 1930s, the Ramie plant made its way to Brazil and the Philippines during the 1950s. In Taiwan, ramie has been a part of the fabric production process where they use I to make “grab,” a fabric that Taiwanese people wear at festivals. During the 20th century, ramie was used for fabric printing in France. Sustainable fabric has been around for quite some time and is here to stay.
Properties of Ramie Material
Ramie fabric being one of a kind, exhibits certain qualities that make it stand out among other cellulose fibers. If you want to have an in-depth knowledge of the fabric, here are the top properties:
- Ramie fabric has a shiny appearance and looks like silk at first glance. However, the fabric is often confused with linen due to its soft feel.
- Ramie fabric is super absorbent (more than cotton) and breathable, making it an ideal fabric for summers and humid weather.
- Due to its silky appearance, it holds shape and does not wrinkle very easily.
- Being super soft and thin, the fabric grades very low on the durability list and is often mixed with cotton and wool, which adds to its durability.
- Ramie fabric is very easy to handle. When soaked in water, the fabric becomes stronger instead of shrinking and losing shape like others. Not only this, it is among the very few fabrics that become more smooth and shiny when washed repeatedly. When left for drying, it takes less time and is left more smooth than before.
Advantages Of Ramie Fabric:
Ramie fabric can be used for a lot of useful purposes. Some of the amazing advantages of Ramie fabric are as follows:
- Resistance Ability: This fabric has a higher ability to resist bacteria and mildew. It resists insect attacks as well. This fabric does not allow bacteria to destroy the quality of the fabric.
- Highly Absorbent: Ramie fabric has an extremely high absorbing ability. It can absorb any liquid very easily and quickly.
- Dye: When Ramie fabric is dyed, it easily absorbs the color. It proves that Ramie fabric is fairly easy to dye in any color.
- High Temperature: This amazing Ramoe fabric can withstand the high temperature of the water. If this fabric is washed in high-temperature water, it can withstand this high temperature and remains the same.
- Strength: The strength of Ramie fabric increases when it is wet.
- Appearance: This fabric has a smooth and lustrous appearance. This smooth appearance improves and increases whenever the fabric is washed. Each wash enhances the lustrous appearance of Ramie fabric.
- Shape: When Ramie fabric is dipped in water, it does not shrink and maintains its original shape. Water does not affect its shape and quality.
- Bleach: Ramie fabric can be easily bleached without decreasing quality. Bleaching does not cause any harmful effect on its overall quality.
Disadvantages Of Ramie Fabric:
Besides advantages, there are a handful of disadvantages of the Ramie fabric. Have a look at these:
- Elasticity: Ramie fabric has very low and poor elasticity.
- Resilience: Ramie fabric lacks resiliency. This fabric cannot recover quickly and does not has high resilience.
- Abrasion Resistance: This fabric also has low abrasion resistance. Its surface can be easily affected if scratched with any sharp thing.
- Wrinkles: When Ramie fabric is folded, it gets wrinkles very easily.
- Hard fabric: This fabric is hard, stiff, and brittle. Due to this stiff and brittle quality, Ramie fabric is mostly used in combination with other fabrics.
Care of Ramie
Ramie fabric is a natural, durable fiber resistant to wrinkles and fading. It is often used for upholstery because of its strength and resistance to wear. Ramie fabric can also be used for clothing, but it is important to take care of it properly to ensure it lasts. Here is how you can do that:
- Always use a mild detergent and cool water while washing the ramie fabric.
- Never use bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the fabric.
- When you are done with washing, rinse the fabric thoroughly and leave it hanging for drying.
- Do not put the soft ramie fabric in the dryer, as this may cause the fabric to shrink.
- If you are using ramie fabric without any other blend, then you must avoid high washing as the fabric cannot bear that. Similarly, you must keep the ironing temperature optimum for pure ramie fabric. The ideal temperature for ironing ramie clothing is 400 to 500 F.
- Do not store the fabric or clothing made of ramie in the folding form as it is very brittle and prone to break. Instead, store it in hanging form.
Uses of Ramie:
There are so many ways you can make use of sustainable ramie cloth. Here are a few ideas:
- Ramie fabric is used in apparel such as shirts, shirts, etc. but blended forms mostly with other fabrics.
- It can also be used in kitchen accessories like tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and napkins.
- Ramie fabric is often part of knitted sweaters but in blended form with cotton.
- A quite popular use of ramie fabric is upholsteries of sofas and beds.
- Items like fishnets, straw hats, canvas, and fire hoses contain ramie fabric blended with other materials.
- “Ramie Ribbons” are used using the shorter fibers of the fabric. This ribbon is used in books as binding tapes.
- In the construction industry, ramie is used as “composite reinforcement.”
Read: Best Eco friendly Fabric Softeners
What is the difference between ramie and linen?
Ramie and linen fabrics share many similarities, such as breathability, resistance to mold and bacteria, luster, etc. Due to these, both fabrics are often confused by the buyers. However, some key points will help you differentiate between them both:
Ramie fabric because coarser after multiple washes and often irritate the skin. At the same time, the linen fabric becomes softer after every wash and hence becomes ideal for those who suffer from skin allergies.
Both the fabrics are expensive, but upon comparing the prices, ramie is a bit cheaper than linen. Due to processing and manufacturing, the ramie fabric often has a waxy feel that is not present in linen. Ramie has a relatively loose structure with a larger gap between warp and weft than linen. The drape of ramie fabric is better than linen.
Is ramie a good fabric?
It may not be as durable as other fabrics, but ramie is a good fabric overall. It is easy to care for and can be used in multiple ways. Moreover, the sustainable and eco-friendly fabric holds a good wrinkle-free shape, a lustrous appearance, and has a silky feel which is why it is popularly used in clothing.
The trend of sustainability in the clothing industry might be new, but it’s not something innovative. Ramie fabric is among the most ancient sustainable fabrics in the world, with its history dating back almost 6000 years. Native to China, the eco-friendly fabric is being produced in many parts of the world today, primarily in Europe. Often mistaken as linen, the ramie fabric is used in clothing, household items, and other miscellaneous objects.