Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Hemp sheets

I have very little sewing energy after the major coat project, and am only able to sew straight seams. This seemed the perfect opportunity to make a sheet set, something I would normally not consider sewing at all, due to the mind numbing boredom of such a task. It just goes to show that I should not display my loathing of soft furnishing sewing too often or I might find myself having to recant. This week I am recanting. Sometimes sewing sheets is the right thing to do. Cost approximately $140 in materials. Purchased sheet set from same fabric $318.50 including postage.

I was reading the blog 3 hours past the end of the world the other day. I was pleased to find a link to the Margaret River Hemp Co, which sells hemp blend fabrics including hemp/cotton sheeting. Thanks Steph! Industrial hemp is grown in Australia, but I had not come across any Australian sources of hemp fabric previously - there is a hemp products shop in Eumundi, with everything imported in a RTW state, and a few years ago I bought a made-in-Australia knit hemp/cotton jacket in Noosa (on super discount) which I cut up for an unsuccessful t shirt, but the only hemp yardage I have used came from Michael's Fabric in Baltimore, USA. I strongly suspect that the Margaret River Hemp fabrics are also imported, but at least they are available in flat fabric state. I wanted to try hemp fabric again, as whilst the t shirt fabric was horrible, the Michael's Fabric made very nice trousers, both to sew and wear.
I was intruiged by the idea of hemp sheets. The website compares them to linen, and claims that hemp sheets used to be heirlooms.
I ordered some sheeting, some silk/hemp woven, and some cotton/hemp knit. Postage was cheap, response was timely, but at first, I was underwhelmed by the fabric.
The cotton/hemp sheeting was very stiff and rough. The cotton/hemp knit seemed to be exactly the same fabric that I had trouble with in my RTW jacket refashion.
I washed the knit and sheeting at 60 degrees C. Some stiffness was removed, but after measuring the fabric, I found that I had 460cm of the sheeting. As I had paid for 5m, and the reported shrinkage is 5% I am either annoyed at being shorted, or annoyed at the shrinkage being well over 5% - take your pick!
This meant that I could only squeeze one pillow case out of the remnants from my queen size fitted bottom sheet, and top sheet with newly skimpy turn over.

,SAM_3093
I have very mixed views about the sheets -mine and my husband's. My view, is that the fabric is scratchy, rough, and has nasty pill-like patches, suggesting to me that the fibres are short, and inferior to the long staple hemp used in high quality fabrics.
My husband thinks slightly scratchy sheets are just his cup of tea, and he really likes the buttoned on pillowcase and extra hold corners I have added to the sheets, as usually he wakes up with no pillowcase on his pillow, and the bottom sheet pulled off the corner.

SAM_3091

SAM_3092
I am really hoping these sheets soften dramatically in the next few washes. Otherwise I will be making a neck to ankle nightie with long sleeves, and wearing gloves and socks to bed.

11 comments:

Joy said...

I have to admit, I've never thought of making full-size sheets, possibly because sheets themselves are FABRIC which can be made into something else. The buttoned case is very cute, er, handsome. I hope they soften up for you.

Gail said...

Hmmm, hemp sheets. Sounds stratchy. My one indulgence (apart from too many pairs of French and Italian shoes) is 1000 thread count cotton sheets. I am the original princess and the pea. Now may I compliment you on the workmanship!

Audrey said...

Hmmm, I have never heard of hemp sheets. I do like the stitching you used to trim the pillow case and the top sheet.

Mary Nanna said...

It's official: there really is NOTHING you won't sew! I do understand the "so over it" feeling after a coat. That's when I love to pour over my many sewing magazines waiting for the sap to rise again.

beurreblanc said...

I’ve been tempted, too, by hemp sheeting after reading Stephs posts. So its great to hear of your experiences with them.
I wonder if your husband will like the sheets as much after you take to wearing neck to ankle nighties, gloves and socks to bed??
-Sewingelle

kbenco said...

He, he, I might be allowed to go back to my Egyptian cotton 500 thread count sheets. I agree with Gail, nice sheets are an important luxury.

Carolyn said...

Oh well, I actually like scratchy sheets! So those sheets would suit me to a T...
Do you have to iron them? That would be the one factor putting me off. otherwise, well done on making your own bedlinen! So very impressive!
I don't know if the Margaret River Hemp company grows their own, but I suspect not... since I'm pretty sure it is still illegal even for bonafide fabric manufacturers. I wish we did produce our own fabric here...

velosewer said...

Nice sheets are worth the money you pay. Hemp is an interesting fabric and both my husband and I have bought clothes from the Margaret River company a while ago. They start off scratchy but they become softer and 'breath' well without feeling clammy. You've done the right thing by winding down with some straigh stitching after your fabulous coat.

MareeAlison said...

Kareen - it should soften quite a lot but it may always be a 'little bobbly'. I have a few hemp items bought from Braintree Hemp which has a few shops in Sydney (http://www.braintreehemp.com.au). I have some hemp socks which I really like. My husband has a casual shirt made of hemp which looks similar to linen. With wearing/washing it has become very soft but it is still 'bobbly'. I'm not sure if I'd like sleeping on it. Interestingly enough on their site they do sell sheets - I wonder what they feel like??? Maybe I'll need to check them out next time I'm in Manly - there's a shop on the Corso!

Sally said...

Neat work with the sheets! Retail for $160 Sz Q in Sydney! 3yrs ago made tea towels using Smrweight100%Hemp #HF01 - weave appears open but closes after a few washes. Compared with Pure Irish linen "Glass Cloth"- there is no difference. (Carla @ Mgt River sends samples free) Wanting cottage chic look, and feel of linen, I'm buying some for sheets. Only 150 wide will require a centre seam, of some kind, don't know which yet, just like the vintage French ones.

Steph said...

Hemp Sheets! I keep thinking I'll do this.

In my experience, hemp softens dramatically with age, but I haven't worked with these yet. How are they on hot nights? I keep thinking I'll use this fabric or find some insanely great linen- I figure the sheets will last for the rest of my life. Thanks for the shout-out by the way.