A lessen in absorbent fabrics and Handkerchief/Bandana Bib Pattern Freebie

Hi all – since I love sharing the love I am giving away my newly created handkerchief/bandana bib pattern.

The pattern is designed to fit 6 times into the width of the 172cm wide 340gsm bamboo french terry fabric I used (which you can order yourself from www.greenbeans.co.nz).  The bamboo fabric is quite expensive but I wanted to ensure that my bibs actually did the job I was making them for rather than just something to look good and sell well:-) Of course they look super and totally rock an outfit but with the added bonus of actually doing a great job of catching an enormous amount of dribble!

What to consider when choosing an absorbent fabric

When choosing which absorbent fabric to use I considered the following:

  • suitability for the purpose,
  • cost,
  • sustainability,
  • environmental impact and
  • ease of use.

I compared Hemp and Bamboo primarily (over other cotton based fabrics) and decided on bamboo french terry. As well as being more absorbent than hemp, bamboo has the added bonus of being an easily farmed and sustainable resource and is much easier on your sewing needles than hemp (which incidentally takes a lot more resources to produce than bamboo so is not as environmentally friendly anyhow). Plus Bamboo is cheaper to buy (due to the lesser costs involved in the production of it).

Further I choose the french terry over the fleece as the fleece has gone through one extra level of processing (to brush out the loops in what was the french terry) and will defluff over time leading to a balding of the product.  Due to the extra level of processing the fleece is also more expensive than the french terry.

Some people believe that the loops of the french terry when left intact (rather than brushed out to create the fleece) act as better liquid catchers due to the pocket shape of each loop.

What ever you choose, the absorbency of the french terry and the fleece will be similar but over time as the fleece wears away the absorbency of the fleece will decrease as the absorbency is in the weight of the fabric and if the fabric is ‘loosing weight’ it is also loosing absorbency.

Key to success when using absorbent fabrics

Since the key to absorbency is in the layers I used two layers of the bamboo which enhances the existing absorbency of each layer simply by allowing the liquid to get trapped in between the two layers of fabric.  This principle applies for any fabric used.  Two layers will always be more absorbent than one (of course).

The second key to absorbency with bamboo (or hemp for that matter) is to hot wash and hot dry it a couple of times to increase the thirstiness of the fabric.  Cold wash and dry will also suffice but will take a few more washes to reach the same level of absorbency. You can expect approx 5% – 15% shrinkage in size of bamboo / hemp. You do not lose absorbency due to shrinkage, it is just the area of fabric shrinks which results in a thicker fabric for you to cut and sew


I really liked working with the bamboo french terry and I decided to enclose the loops on the inside of my garment to ensure that over time the loops did not get caught on other items when going through the wash and end up with a brushed out look.  It is of no consequence to the level of absorbency which way out you choose to place the loops.  [One side of the bamboo french terry is loops and the other is like a jersey knit – which is ever so soft and snugly on the skin].

How do I get a copy of the free pattern?

Click on the box.net link on the right side of the blog post.  Please feel free to use and share this pattern as you wish.  All I ask is that you do not sell items made from it.

© PetitBebe 2012


17 thoughts on “A lessen in absorbent fabrics and Handkerchief/Bandana Bib Pattern Freebie

  1. how fun! I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. I lived in Tauranga for a year in high school as an exchange student and still miss your beautiful country!


  2. hi, i missed this as i only came across your site today and was wondering where i could get a copy of this pattern for our 4 month old grandson.thanks.julie


  3. Hi there. Really great post about the fabrics, only came across it today and expecting baby no.1 in a couple of weeks and wanted to make some bandana bibs in advance, would love a copy of the pattern if you don’t mind still sending it!? Thanks!!


  4. HI there – totally hadn’t considered bamboo fabric, fab idea – Are you still sending the patterns? If so I would LOVE one


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