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Textile Tribes of Vietnam: Black Hmong Hemp & Indigo with My & Ker


Hi everyone I would like to introduce My, a Black Hmong girl living at ETHOS – Spirit of the Community with her mum, and Ker, a tour guide at Ethos specialising in hemp and indigo cultivation. These two lovely ladies will be our teachers today, explaining and demonstrating how Hmong people still grow, weave and dye hemp fabric and indigo for their clothes.

The aim of these video demonstrations is to create a understanding of Hmong heritage, traceability and to encourage the future production of Hmong organic fabrics and fashion. 

Hmong Hemp Fabric Step-by-Step

  1. Plant hemp seeds very close together to make stems grow tall and straight
  2. Hemp stems grow from seed to 6ft in 3 months
  3. Harvest hemp
  4. Dry hemp sticks in the sun for 1 week
  5. Lay sticks on a mud floor for 1 night to add moister. 
  6. Strip hemp sticks outer layer
  7. Pound it with postal and mortar to make soft
  8. Twist fibers together into long threads.
  9. Wind into a ball on hand
  10. Wind yarn around corn cob
  11. Wind yarn into skien
  12. Wash skien in boiling water with bucket full of ash, this acts as a bleaching agent.
  13. Dry
  14. Crush on the see-saw mill stone to make shiny and smooth 
  15. Apply batik using Hmong Symbology
  16. Indigo dye (see video below)

Hmong Indigo Dyeing Step-by-Step

  1. Growing Indigo leaves takes 3-6 months
  2. Harvest leaves and stems
  3. Cover with in a large barrel of water for 3 days
  4. Remove leaves and stems from water and discard
  5. Mix limestone powder with remaining indigo water
  6. Plunge water up and down to start the oxygenisation process turning the water from green to blue.
  7. Allow the limestone mixture settle to the bottom of the barrel
  8. Discard water
  9. Place lime stone paste in a separate bucket
  10. Add limestone paste to new water and submerge natural hemp fabric for 3 days
  11. Remove fabric and dry in the sun
  12. Add more indigo paste to the barrel
  13. Repeat steps 10 -12 for 4-6 months

With many thanks to Phil, Hoa, Ker and My from Ethos Spirit of Community 

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Learn about Black Hmong Hemp with My from Ethos Travel in Sapa Vietnam

Are you a weaver or a dyer? Have you worked with hemp yarn before? O natural dyeing techniques? Are you interested in organic, eco and tribal fashion? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.

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  • Marjee
    February 9, 2016 at 5:32 am

    I am a dyer and textile artist. I have used a hemp-silk blend fabric. I have even used hemp drawing paper and hemp printer paper. I would like to have access to plain hemp fabric to work with but it has become prohibitively expensive.

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