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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science


Cotton/Kenaf Fabrics: a Viable Natural Fabric

Authors: P. Bel-Berger, T. Von Hoven, G.N. Ramaswamy, L. Kimmel, and E. Boylston
Pages: 60-70
Textile Technology

By blending kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) with cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), new high-end uses for kenaf have been identified. Kenaf fibers, bast fibers similar to jute, are typically separated by mechanical, chemical, or bacterial means. Mechanically separated fibers are usually too stiff to be blended with cotton and cannot be made into good yarns. Fibers processed chemically and bacterially were blended with cotton and made into fabrics and evaluated. The retted kenaf ribbons were carded to produce straightened fibers which were cut into uniformlengths, blended with cotton, converted into yarns which were then made into fabrics to compare the retting treatments’ effects on fabric hand and appearance. In order to further improve the hand of the retted kenaf/cotton blend fabrics, the fabric needed to be softened with routine finishes used in the textile industry. The effects of different fabric treatments such as enzymes, bleaching and mercerization on blended light weight and heavy weight cotton/kenaf fabrics were compared and measured for softness of hand. This collaborative effort resulted in cotton/kenaf blend fabrics thatwere aesthetically appealing and had a soft hand. The light weight blend fabrics had a linen look and, after treatment, were suitable for use in apparel without any type of lining. Mercerization was an adequate means to improve hand and appearance of the heavy weight fabrics, resulting in excellent examples of upholstery fabrics. Cotton enhanced the kenaf fibers and resulted in a higher value end product.