Learn all about what is linen? Linen is one of the most common fabrics available these days, especially for bath and bed fabrics. However, have you ever wondered why linen is one of the most sought after types of fabrics on the market? With that said, in this article, you will discover several facts about linen that you probably didn’t know yet.
What is Linen?
Linen is a textile made from flax fibers and is predominantly utilized for homeware uses. It is also considered a sustainable type of fabric. Moreover, the term linen was derived from the flax plant’s Latin name called “Linum usitatissimum.”
Linen’s qualities make it one of the most in-demand textiles worldwide for over 30,000 years. In fact, in ancient Egypt, the fabric was prized so much that it was used as a medium of exchange or currency. Linen symbolized wealth, light, and purity, so it was the top fabric choice for mummification.
Today, linen garments are especially desirable in humid and warm climates. Linen dries quickly, does not retain moisture, thus, minimizing heat retention in scorching weather conditions.
What is Linen – Production Methods
Flax plants are grown and harvested after 100 days of cultivation. They are typically planted in cooler months to prevent the crops from dying. Flax plants are generally cultivated with the use of machinery. Tilling and herbicides are also essential when growing flax plants for maximum yields.
Once the flax stems turn yellow, and their seeds turn brown, they are finally ready for harvesting. After harvesting, the flax stalks are run through a machine that eliminates the seeds and leaves.
Next, the flax plants’ decomposed stalks are then gathered and broken up to separate the inner fibers from the unusable external fibers. Once the inner fibers are wholly separated from the stem’s outer threads, the inners are then combed into very thin strands to prep them for the spinning process.
A device called “spreaders” is used to spin the flax fibers. After the spinning process, the output yarn is wobbled onto a bobbin.
For the final step, the finished yard is then dried. Afterward, the dried yarn is ready for dying and treating and is now ready to be made into clothing, homeware, and other textile products.
What is Linen vs Cotton
Both linen and cotton are widely-renowned for being soft, durable, and breathable. However, both fabrics have their differences, making one better than the other in specific categories and vice versa.
What is Linen – Absorbency
Both cotton and linen deliver exceptional absorbency, but cotton has a slight edge in this category. Cotton offers the ability to hold 25% water, while linen only holds up to 20%.
What is Linen – Comfort
Cotton offers the capability of keeping its wearers warm. However, they may get a little too warm with prolonged wearing, especially during hot climate situations. On the other hand, Linen is great for both cold and warm weather conditions because it offers the ability to retain heat while making you feel nice and comfortable. Thus, when it comes to comfort, linen is a better option.
What is Linen – Costs
Given the extensive process, effort, and time put into linen production; it is considerably more expensive than cotton fabric.
Moreover, linen is also prized for its exceptional features and benefits that people can’t get from other fabrics. Thus, if you want to invest in linen garments for your home, be prepared to spare the extra cash.
What is Linen – Sustainability
Linen is the landslide winner when it comes to sustainability. Linen fabric production utilizes less water than cotton production with a similar quantity. Additionally, the cultivation of flax uses fewer pesticides, and producing linen does not require harmful chemicals.
What is Linen – Durability
Although both linen and cotton offer exceptional durability, cotton may have shorter longevity than linen, depending on the quality and weave.
What is Linen – Types
Below is the list of the different types of linen.
Plain-woven linen is the most commonly used linen type. It offers unique characteristics such as striped or checkered with blue or red shades or the combination of both colors. This linen type is suitable for cleaning purposes due to its loose weave, making it easily absorbent.
Crafted to be extremely absorbent, loosely-woven linen fabric is typically used to make products that require exceptional absorbencies, such as sanitary towels and diapers. Loosely-woven linen comes in two variations: the Huckaback and the Bird’s Eye.
The Huckaback linen consists of pure linen composition or the blend of cotton and linen. On the other hand, the Bird’s Eye features loose weaves that create tiny patterns and mimics a bird’s eye.
Sheeting linen fabrics are typically used in making fabric sheets such as table sheets and bedsheets. This type of linen is also suitable for making dresses, suits, and other clothing and apparel that use linen.
As the name suggests, toweling linen is essentially the linen fabric used to make towels. Linen towels come in various types and purposes that manufacturers produce to satisfy consumers’ demand.
Damask is a linen fabric type that offers a blend of satin and plain weaves. This type of linen has a compact texture, which gives it a smooth surface.
Despite its rigid texture, the damask offers substantial absorbency properties, making it suitable for making linen napkins. Furthermore, damask linen is also used to manufacture table runners or tablecloths.
Handkerchief linen is typically used for handkerchiefs and blouses given its lightweight, fine, and plain-weave fabric, which is slightly sheer and drapes well.
What is Linen – Blends
Linen can be blended with many other fibers both natural and man-made. This increases its durability and decreases the costs.
The linen-cotton blend offers a soft and light to medium weight fabric. This blend typically consists of a 50-50 mixture of linen and cotton and delivers the same linen feel, but it is a lot more durable and does not crease as much as a plain linen fabric.
The linen and silk-blend offers a medium weight and is also dense and shiny. The silk mixture essentially counteracts linen’s crispness while adding extra shine to the fabric. Linen-silk fabrics are typically used in manufacturing trousers, skirts, dresses, and upmarket suits.
Linen-rayon is one of the best choices of linen fabric blends. The combination of both fabrics delivers a smooth, absorbent, and crease-resistant material.
The addition of polyester to linen creates a less wrinkly fabric that offers beneficial color retention properties.
What is Linen – Pros vs Cons
Check out below the various advantages and disadvantages of linen:
- Linen becomes softer as it ages, so it is considered one of the most long-standing and sustainable fabric types.
- Linen is highly resistant to sun damage; it won’t break down even after being regularly exposed to the sun. Thus, it is a good fabric for making curtains. Additionally, linen also offers the ability to protect its wearers against harmful UV rays.
- Linen dries very well, so several eco-conscious towel manufacturers use it.
- Linen is strong, long-lasting, and doesn’t pill.
- Linen absorbs and retains dye very well; thus, less dye is required during production.
- Since the Middle Age, linen has been used as a comforting fabric due to its antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties.
- Thanks to its thermo-regulating properties, linen is a great fabric to use for beddings during warm weather conditions.
- Linen is undoubtedly impressive and very unique. It features uncommon fiber bundles and a natural luster, which give it a unique texture that’s unmatched with other types of fabrics.
- Linen is not as commonly available as cotton and synthetic fabrics. Producing it requires a demanding manufacturing process that utilizes a substantial amount of time.
- Given its intensive process, linen is comparably more expensive than cotton and other fabric types.
- Linen is notorious for shrinking, especially when it is washed with hot or warm water.
- Linen easily creases. Thus, if you want to have smooth and wrinkle-free linen garments at home, be sure to prepare for some backbreaking ironing tasks.
What is Linen – Care and Washing
Although linen is well-renowned for being a durable and long-lasting fabric, it also needs special care to maximize its longevity.
One of the best things you can do to keep linen’s quality and avoid shrinking is to wash it with room temperature water only and not with warm or hot water. Additionally, since linen easily wrinkles, careful folding is essential.
On the same note, given that linen easily wrinkles, ironing the fabric is pivotal if you want to keep it smooth and crease-free. While ironing, you may also want to use a little bit of starch spray to keep it clean and crisp.
Read more about how to wash linen.
What is Linen – In Conclusion
Thanks for reading all about “what is linen”. With all the benefits it can offer, linen is undeniably one of the best fabrics to use for the production of various garments such as clothing, homeware, and cleaning products.
Thus, if you are on the lookout for a premium-quality fabric to use for projects that involve the use of fabric, linen is one of the best options out there.