Ramie (pronounced Ray-me) is one of the oldest vegetables fiber and has been used for thousands of years. It was used for Chinese burial shrouds over 2,000 years ago, long before cotton was introduced in the Far East.
Ramie is classified chemically as a cellulose fiber, just as cotton fiber, linen and rayon. Leading producers of ramie are China, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines and Brazil.
Until recently ramie has been unknown in the ready-to-wear market in this country, but it is appearing in more garments. It is often blended with cotton and available in woven and knit fabrics that resemble fme linen to coarse canvas.
Ramie usage increased in the mid-1980s with a fashion emphasis on natural fibres and a loophole in textile import regulations. Ramie and garments made of more than 50 percent ramie, entered the United States without import quota limits. Legislation was passed in 1986 eliminating the quota-free status of ramie.
Ramie is also known as China-grass, rhea and grass cloth. The fibres are found in the bark of the stalk. The process of transforming ramie fiber into fabric is similar to manufacturing linen from flax. The fibre is very fine and silk-like, naturally white in colour and has a high lustre.
Properties of Ramie Fiber:
- Ramie is one of the strongest natural fibers.
- It is better strength when wet.
- It is similar to linen.
- It is not durable as other fibers, and so is usually used as a blend with other fibers such as cotton or wool.
- It is known especially for its ability to hold shape, reduce wrinkling, and introduce a silky lustre to the fabric appearance
Advantages of Ramie Fibre:
- Resistant to bacteria, mildew and insect attack.
- Extremely absorbent.
- Dyes fairly easy.
- Increases in strength when wet.
- Withstands high water temperatures during laundering.
- Smooth lustrous appearance improves with washing.
- Keeps its shape and does not shrink.
- Can be bleached.
Disadvantages of Ramie:
- Low in elasticity.
- Lacks resiliency.
- Low abrasion resistance.
- Wrinkles easily.
- Stiff and brittle.
Ramie Used as a Blend:
Ramie is most often blended with other fibers for its unique strength, absorbency, luster and dye-affinity. When blended with high-quality cotton it offers increased lustre, strength and color. When mixed with wool, ramie adds lightness and minimizes shrinkage. When blended with rayon, it offsets the low wet strength.
Uses of Ramie Fiber:
Ramie is used in fabrics resembling linen, such as apparel fabrics for shirts and shorts, tablecloths, napkins and handkerchiefs. It is often found as a blend with cotton in knit sweaters. Ramie is also used in fishnets, canvas, upholstery fabrics, straw hats and fire hose.
Care of Ramie:
Ramie-blend fabrics can be laundered or dry-cleaned depending on the dyes, finishes and garment design. The care label will state the preferred method. The dry-cleaning method helps prese1ve the beauty of woven ramie items and gives best colour and shape retention and a wrinkle free appearance. With caution, white ramie fabrics may be bleached with chlorine-type bleaches. Ramie fabrics withstand ironing temperatures up to 400 to 450 degrees F or the cotton setting on an iron.
When storing ramie or ramie blends, lay them flat. Ramie fibres are brittle and tend to break. Avoid folding the garment or pressing sharp creases in woven fabrics.
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It’s me, a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. I’m working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. I’m also a contributor of Wikipedia.