Clothing made with a blend of hemp & Tencel is not only easy to wear and care for, it’s the epitome of sustainable apparel for women
Rose Gerstner is the founder of Sympatico Clothing in Oregon. For more than a decade, she’s worked exclusively with a sustainable blend of hemp and Tencel, She crafts her Sympatico collection of tops, pants, and skirts aiming for unfussy, natural comfort on real-world figures. Rose regularly blogs about sustainable fashion and the role microbusinesses like Sympatico play in our economy.
It was a comment overheard in my craft fair booth that prompted this post. I heard a husband tell his wife, “You could wear this against your skin.” She then turned to me and asked, “Linens are usually hard and scratchy; why is this fabric so soft?”
What she mistook for an unusually soft linen is actually Sympatico’s 55% hemp - 45% Tencel (lyocell) blend. It has a soft, comfy hand that feels great against your skin. But I got her linen reference. Sympatico’s fabric has a very similar look, but the two fabrics perform quite differently. Thanks to the Tencel content in our fabric, wrinkles that can plague linen clothing are a non-issue.
Like linen, hemp is a tough fiber —think of hemp rope or hemp cord. Hemp textiles come from the long, tough outer fibers of the stalks, and like linen, it’s a bast fiber that is strong and durable. The downside is that these tough fibers can be scratchy and stiff.
But Sympatico’s hemp and Tencel fabric together with our dyeing process deals with that issue neatly and in an environmentally sound way. Tencel is known for its smooth fiber surface that gives it softness and drape without clinginess. The resulting blend has breathability and moisture absorption for a dry, cool touch on the skin. People with sensitive skin tell me how much they love this blend. As a bonus, most folks find they can minimize ironing by hanging the garments and spritzing them to refresh.
Each Sympatico garment is first sewn in natural, undyed fabric and then dyed. Garment dyeing machines use beaters to ensure the dye penetrates the fabric completely and evenly. The machines look like top-loading washers without lids and with much bigger paddles.
Happily, this process not only produces even colors, it also distresses and softens the hemp fibers. The usual break-in period for hemp is thus shortened, though you may still notice gradual softening with further washing and wearing. (You can hasten this process with dryer balls or tennis balls—especially useful for items in our undyed Natural fabric.)
So that’s the story. Softness is just one of the reasons I love wearing Sympatico Clothing! How about you?