Bamboo is one of the most sustainable sources on the planet, but did you know that it can be used to produce a soft, strong and eco-friendly textile that is perfect for keeping cosy, mopping up spills and a variety of re-usable projects?!
Non? Well! In this guide we’ll be talking aaalllll about bamboo towelling fabric, sharing how this super-fabric is made and giving you 13 sewing tips for handling this fluffy little fella of a fabric…
What is Bamboo Towelling fabric?
Bamboo Towelling is a natural textile, and is considered one of the most eco-friendly fabrics available! Bamboo was traditionally used in Asia to make paper, but the pulp is now used to make a variety of eco-friendly and useful textiles, including Bamboo Towelling, Bamboo Jersey, Bamboo Velour, Bamboo French Terry and more mixed fibre textiles.
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Bamboo textiles are described as eco-friendly as the bamboo plant grows multiple new shoots a year, and with little intervention naturally replenishes. Both the plant and its products are 100% biodegradable and it is said to be the most renewable source on the planet, due to the usable oxygen it produces to offset carbon.
Bamboo Towelling fabric is made from the pulp of bamboo grass. The fibre is made by pulping the bamboo grass until it separates into thin fibrous threads, which are then spun, dyed and woven into cloth.
It is supersoft, with a smooth side and a fluffy side, whilst also being extremely strong, hardwearing, and constructed for maximum absorption – with pile loops or three dimensional weave structures. It is said to be 300% more absorbent than Cotton, and holds its shape much better than other fibres used for towelling offering comfort and support.
Bamboo textiles have a similar softness to silk, due to the lack of chemical treatments in their production, and so are perfect for those who require hypoallergenic textiles. There are no short, sharp fibres to irritate the skin as they are naturally smoother and rounder, and the fibre is 100% natural.
Bamboo material is also naturally antibacterial and antifungal, due to the presence of a natural anti-bacteria bioagent, ‘Bamboo-Kun’, which helps the bamboo plant survive and flourish in the wild with little to no human intervention, pesticides or fertilisers. Bamboo textiles have other interesting health related properties, such as their natural UV resistance, helping protect skin against cancers, making them perfect for leisurewear and sportswear.
Bamboo plants regulate their internal temperature well, and this is a property bamboo textiles also have. They keep you cool in summer and warm in winter, due to the cross section of the bamboo fibre being covered with small gaps, meaning better moisture absorption and breathability. They are also very effective at wicking moisture away from the body.
We stock a variety of different Bamboo Towelling fabrics, in a selection of luxury natural shades, perfect for a variety of different projects with an eco-friendly vibe!
Preparing and Cutting Bamboo Towelling
It is essential to pre-wash Bamboo Towelling fabric. Not only can it shrink quite considerably, it also sheds a lot of lint in the first few washes, so pre-washing will help remove the bulk of this without clogging up your sewing machine. Using fabric softener is also said to reduce the amount of lint produced, and cool machine wash and line dry for the best result.
Ideally press Bamboo Towelling with a ‘self’ pressing cloth, and iron on a cool heat. This will prevent the pile and texture of the towelling from flattening and losing shape as easily.
When cutting, mark the right side of the fabric with a pin, and use long, flat pins like flower head pins to keep the pattern pieces in place. Use sharp scissors, a rotary cutter can be tricky to use due to the textured surface but can be used. Mark any notches with pins or clips to prevent the towelling from splitting beyond the seam allowance.
We recommend buying an extra 25cm / ¼ y for every 2m / 2y you purchase for your project to allow for shrinkage – any leftover towelling would be great to use in one of our reusables projects like our Un-Sponges or Un-Paper Towels!
13 Sewing & Handling Tips For Bamboo Towelling
- What needle should I use for bamboo towelling? – Sharps or Universal machine needles work well with Bamboo Towelling in a size 80/12 or 90/12. Always use a new needle to avoid snags or tension issues.
- What thread should I use for bamboo towelling? – A cotton all purpose thread , polyester thread or silk thread work well. Matching the composition of the fibres and choosing something natural like Cotton or Silk is preferred.
- Should I pre-wash bamboo towelling? Yes! There maybe be some shrinkage of bamboo towelling so it’s advisable to purchase a little extra (1/4m for every 2m required)
- How do I mark bamboo towelling? It can be tricky to mark towelling fabric. A Chaco Pen works well with the pile. It is also a good idea to mark the right side of the towelling with safety pins
- How do I cut bamboo towelling? – Use a rotary cutter & mat or scissors. If you are making a garment you should follow the “With Nap” cutting layout.
- What stitch length do I need for bamboo towelling? – A good stitch length to use is 3-3.5mm
- Should I use interfacing with bamboo towelling? Interfacing isn’t usually required with bamboo towelling as the fabric has quite a lot of body on its own.
- How do I hem bamboo towelling? Overlock or flatlock the raw edge then turn up the required hem and stitch in place with a 4mm stitch. You need a longer stitch because of the bulky layers
- Should I use facings with bamboo towelling? – Avoid using facings where possible as this can become very bulky. Instead add ribbing on places like necklines, or use cotton binding strips/bias binding.
- What machine foot do I need for bamboo towelling? – You can use a regular sewing foot on your machine but if you are sewing layers of different fabric types then a walking foot will hel
- What seam finishes do I use for Bamboo Towelling – You can simply use plain, pressed open seams, or overlock for a professional finish. Piped and bound seams work well on Bamboo Towelling as you can encase the raw edge which can break down and lint after use and washing.
- What edge finishes do I use for Bamboo Towelling? – Most edges are either overlocked for a basic finish, or most commonly bound with piping or bias binding, encasing the raw edge in a coordinating printed cotton binding, piping or braid.
- What closures should I use for bamboo towelling? – generally zips are not advised for bamboo towelling as the fabric is too bulky. KAM snaps may be used, use long pronged if you have lots of layers. You can also use button holes
What can I make with Bamboo Towelling?
Lots of things! There are many projects that are suitable for this fluffy and absorbent fabric. Some ideas are:
- Reusable Kitchen Cloths
- Reusable Cotton Pads
- Bamboo Mattress Toppers
- Cloth nappies
- Reusable makeup remover pads (Square)
- Reusable cotton pads (Round)
- Eco-Friendly Shower Puff
- Breast pads/breastfeeding bra pads
- Bath Eye Mask
- Bath Headband
- Bath Mitt
- Bath towels
- Casual clothing
- Tea towels
- Reusable sanitary wear
- Wash mitts
- Reusable cloths, towels and sponges for cleaning
For free tutorials and other ideas, check out our blog series.