Published on October 6th, 2009 | by Becky Striepe13
Fab Fabrics: Banana Cloth
We’re on a funky fibers kick around here, it seems! From pineapple yarn to spider silk, we’ve been exploring some unusual natural fabric options. I sent my post about pineapple fabric to a friend a couple of weeks ago, and she pointed me to yet another interesting natural fabric: banana fibers.
Like Piña cloth, the traditional use for the banana fibers was to make jusi, a silk used in the Barong Tagalog. Jusi has an interesting history. It evolved from a Chinese raw silk. As demand rose in the Phillipines, manufacturers had to find another way to make the cloth, because supplies were scarce. It turned out that the fiber from banana stalks worked perfectly!
These days, most jusi fabric is actually polyester and some is made with silk fibers.
Banana fibers can be used to make more than just the silk used in the Barong Tagalog. According to Eco Fashion World:
Banana trees were widely used for making fabrics before cotton was affordable and readily available. Now “jusi” banana fabric is made in only a handful of places in Southeast Asia. The raw materials come from the stem that farmers leave in the garden after a banana harvest. The tree stalks and leaves are removed and processed into a pliable fibre. Different layers of the stem yield fibers for specific uses: the outer layer’s fibers are generally used for tablecloths while the third layer makes the finest, silkiest fabric, suitable for kimonos and saris. Many Nepalese rugs are made from bleached and dried fibers of the banana plant that are hand-knotted into silk-like rugs.
Pretty awesome! I love the idea of vegan silk made from the castoff stalks from banana harvests.
Have you ever seen banana cloth available for sale? My hunting seems to only turn up finished garments.