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Natural and synthetic yarns, fibers, spuns, monofilaments and cutflock specialities from the reliable source Swicofil 
Paper yarn

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Paper yarn



Shifu (Clothing Woven With Washi yarns)

Washi paper is cut into long, narrow ribbon-like strips which are twisted on a spinning wheel, then woven like silk or cotton, traditionally on a handloom. For the warp and the weft of this paper fabric, there are cases in which silk or cotton is used for the warp but when woven there is little difference from ordinary cloth.



Paper fabric has the drawback of tearing when it becomes wet in the rain but paper fabric can be laundered. Its tradition still remains, although on a limited scale now, as high-class clothing.

Paper yarns are subject to customs tariff 5308.90xx

  • High fashion items (knitting, hand knitting)
  • Handicraft items

a beatutiful Japanese robe made from paper yarn

Paper yarns give a fabric a very nice dry and crispy hand

Traditional Materials Find New Application in Clothing
The fashion world is constantly seeking and latching onto new materials. The folk fashion craze spurred demand for natural, handmade-looking textiles that exude warmth, while synthetic fabrics with a sleek look have also recently been popular. One of the hot items is fabrics made from traditional Japanese materials, such as bamboo and washi (handmade Japanese paper).

A spotlight grabber in Tokyo presented a series of coats and pants made of fabric containing bamboo fibers. Paper clothing is also coming out. Apparel makers began offering summer sweaters knitted from fibers made of washi, and they plan to expand their lineups of washi clothing for heavier fall fashions too. Jackets, sweaters, and pants for men are also available. The 100% washi fabric is light and breathable and feels a lot like linen. This fabric also absorbs dust and odors, as evidenced by the fact that it is used as filters in air-purifying devices.

Washi and bamboo are not the only traditional materials being used in clothing. Jackets and pants made of a new materials like polyester charcoal have also come up. The charcoal is pulverized, then mixed into a polyester solution to produce an exceptionally resilient, lustrous fabric that also reportedly has deodorizing properties.

The Road to Paper Clothes
Research toward creating paper clothing has been under way in Japan for a long time now, though it has never before reached the practical application stage. In February 2000, 10 artisans and designers who belong to a washi research group held an exhibition exploring the possibilities of washi at a gallery in Kagoshima Prefecture. The articles on display included clothing, such as jackets colored with dyes made from paper mulberry (one of the raw materials commonly used to make washi). The clothing, which appears stiff but feels soft and warm, got high marks. In March 1999 a fashion show featuring clothing made of washi was held in Kochi Prefecture. Washi jeans were among the articles that appeared in the show, which was titled "The Body of Washi." One would never know, just by looking at these clothes, that they are made of paper.

The merits of paper for use in textile fibers are their breatheability (ideal for humid summers), the ease of processing them into fabric, their high functionality, and their beauty. The fashion world's fascination with all things Oriental and Japanese continues unabated, and washi product are attracting the interest of a growing number of designers. More and more of this material  is expected to find its way onto store shelves as time goes by.


  • twisted paper yarns
  • paper yarn mixed with polyester


We are able to supply paper yarn produced of slit widths of 2 mm, 3 mm, 5 mm, 10 mm and 15 mm in natural white as well as in dyed. Upon demand paper yarn can be twisted together with polyester filament yarns.

We are serving all customers who are able to purchase a minimum of 500 kgs per order.


Paper yarns - please click on image to get a bigger one

Paper yarns Paper yarns Paper yarns Paper yarns Paper yarns


paper yarn from Japan - washable and dyeable


Background information

paper yarn fibers

Washi is the Japanese word for the traditional papers made from the long inner fibres of three plants, wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper. As Japan rushes with the rest of the world into the 21st Century, and more modern technologies take over, machines produce similar-looking papers which have qualities very different from authentic washi. As of the fall of 1994, there still remain roughly 350  families still engaged in the production of paper by hand.


Though paper was originally made in China in the first century, the art was brought to Japan in 610 AD by Buddhist monks who produced it for writing sutras. By the year 800, Japan's skill in papermaking was unrivalled, and from these ancient beginnings have come papers unbelievable in their range of colour, texture and design. It was not until the 13th century that knowledge of papermaking reached Europe -- 600 years after the Japanese had begun to produce it. By the late 1800's, there were in Japan more than 100,000 families making paper by hand. Then with the introduction from Europe of mechanized papermaking technology and as things "Western" became sought after including curtains and French printmaking papers, production declined.


The inner barks of three plants, all native to Japan, are used primarily in the making of  washi:

  • Kozo (paper mulberry) is said to be the masculine element, the protector, thick and strong. It is the most widely used fibre, and it is the strongest. It is grown as a farm crop, and regenerates annually, so no forests are depleted in the process.
  • Mitsumata is the "feminine element": graceful, delicate, soft and modest. Mitsumata takes longer to grow and is thus a more expensive paper. It is indigenous to Japan and is also grown as a crop.
  • Gampi was the earliest and is considered to be the most noble fiber, noted for its richness, dignity and longevity. It has an exquisite natural sheen, and is often made into very thin tissues used in book conservation and chine colle printmaking. Gampi has a natural 'sized' finish which does not bleed when written or painted on.

knitted fabrics produced from paper yarn


Branches of the (kozo, gampi or mitsumata) bush are trimmed, soaked, the bark removed, and the tough pliant inner bark laboriously separated, cleaned, then pounded and stretched. The addition of the pounded fibre to a liquid solution, combined with tororo-aoi (fermented hibiscus root) as a mucilage, produces a paste-like substance when it is mixed.

It is this "paste" which is tossed until evenly spread on a bamboo mesh screen to form each sheet of paper. The sheets are piled up wet, and later laid out to dry on wood in the sun or indoors on a heated dryer.


Winter Activity

Papermaking in Japan was a winter activity. It was slack-season work for farmers, and this allowed it to be made wherever there was a good and abundant supply of soft, running water and where the bast fiber plants could grow--a perfect industry for a mountainous country with heavy rainfall and short, swift rivers.


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