How do they make jute bags?
Jute bags are made from jute fibres which start life as a plant so the process of making a reusable jute bag starts in the field.
Growing and Harvesting Jute
Jute requires a humid climate and high rainfall so it is mostly grown in India and Bangladesh. The bags we sell are made and hand-dyed in Kolkata, India by an ethical company and hold the fair trade mark.
In the field jute grows quickly and requires very little, if any, chemical intervention in terms of pesticides and fertilizers. In fact, jute can be harvested every 4 to 6 months and actually puts nutrients into the soil, enriching it for future crops, making it an ideal crop for crop rotation.
As well as being good for the soil and quick to grow the yield, in terms of the amount of fibre that can be harvested by hectare, is greater than cotton, meaning less land is required leaving more space for growing food or other uses.
Once grown the long jute stems are harvested, often by hand. Harvesting happens once the flowers have dropped and stalks are often left in the fields for a few days for the leaves to come off and then bundled up ready for the next stage in the process, retting.
Retting and Extracting the Jute Fibres
The next stage in the process is retting. Bundles of jute stalks are soaked in slow running water to dissolve and rot away the tough cellular tissue surrounding the long golden fibres wanted to make bags (or anything else).
This natural process is safe both for the workers and the environment as no harsh chemicals are needed.
Once the retting process has done its work the fibres can be extracted by hand, a process is known as stripping. Stripped fibres are then beaten to separate them and the long golden fibres are then hung to dry ready for the carding process.
Turning Raw Jute Fibres into Fabric
Once the fibres have been extracted from the stalks the real bag making process begins. Jute fibres are carded ready for spinning into thread and weaving into fabric. Carding is a mechanical process in which fibres are converted into long continuous ribbons of fibre ready to be spun.
Once the fabric has been woven it can then be cut, dyed or screen printed and sewn into bags or other jute products like baskets, soap bags
The fabric woven for jute shopping bags is generally fairly coarse but finer jute fibres can be extracted and woven into imitation silk. Jute can also be mixed with other fibres to create strong rope or fabrics with different properties.
Our Jute bags are hand screen printed and perfect for so many situations. We love the small ones for lunches and gift bags, the medium ones for a cheap handbag alternative or a trip to town, and the large bags are perfect for supermarket shopping or carrying everything you need for a picnic or day out.
Next up: How Long do Jute Bags Last?