Description : Bamboo is a bast fibre like hemp (a bast fibre is found in the woody part of the plant stem, just beneath the bark of there is any - this means that bast fibres are strong). It is more absorbent, cooler and softer than either linen, cotton or hemp. In fact, bamboo fabrics are incredibly soft. They also wick well (pull moisture away from the skin), making them feel cool. Bamboo is also lustrous in appearance. It blends well with other fabrics. It is resistant to sunlight, mildew, and even offers some protection against UV. Most remarkable of all, bamboo fabric is also antibacterial and antifungal, and offers no static.
Fabrication : Bamboo is a fast growing plant that if found on most continents, with the possible exception of Africa. It requires no pesticides or fertilizer to grow. It absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Bamboo fibre for fabric is made by two different processes. The first uses alkalizers in a process of hydrolysis and a sequence of bleaching steps, hence requires little in the way of toxic chemicals. This produces what is called "natural bamboo". The second process adopts a procedure similar to that used to make rayon or viscose, hence breaks the bamboo into woodchips that are then passed through chemicals to make a liquid that is in turn extruded through spinnerets to make bamboo fibres. The result of this second, more toxic process is often called "rayon" or "bamboo rayon".
Subtypes :
Dyes, color treatment and washing characteristics : Bamboo is easy to dye. It shrinks slightly and hence should be washed prior to being sewn. Wash and rinse in cold water. When machine drying, remove from dryer as soon as the dry cycle is over to prevent wrinkling. You also don't need as much soap when washing bamboo fabrics.
Draping properties : Bamboo drapes exceedingly well, better than other plant fibre-based fabrics such as cotton, linen or hemp.
Cutting properties : No problems with cutting bamboo have been noted.
Sewing challenges : To avoid skipping stitches, hold the fabric firmly in front and behind while machine sewing. You may need to finish seams with an overlock stitch or zigzag, as they have a tendency to fray. To flatten seams and edges, topstitch close to the seam or edge. When stitching buttonholes, you may need to spray the area of the fabric concerned with starch to give it added stiffness. Stitch with a new, sharp needle. Use lightweight zippers and stabilize the zipper opening with tape to prevent stretching. You should use lightweight sew-in or fusible interfacing - crisper interfacing will overwhelm the fabric.
Example creations : knit shirt, t-shirt, Sadie top, shirt and pants combo,
Uses worldwide : Bamboo is often used for socks, undergarments, sleepwear, t-shirts, sweaters, bathrobes, swimsuits, towels and diapers because of its antibacterial properties. Its resistance to UV rays make it an ideal garment for summer dresses, children's wear and curtains and draperies. Its absorbancy also makes it a choice fabric for sportswear.
Origins and history : The technology to develop textile fibres from bamboo has only been around for a few years, hence the recent emergence of this very soft and pliable fabric.
Wikipedia reference

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