Linen is a fabric woven from the fibres of the cultivated flax plant, which also provides us with linseed oil and seeds. It is the world’s strongest natural fibre which contributes to its longevity.
Producing linen is a laborious process but the finished fabric is very absorbent, hardwearing with a beautiful natural lustre and renowned for its exceptional coolness in hot weather.
Linen fabrics have been used in household products and garments for centuries and evidence of their use and fragments of the flax fabrics themselves, have been found in Egyptian and Babylonian tombs and other historical sites.
Flax is a tall reed-like plant, mainly grown in West and Eastern Europe as well as Russia and China. It takes from seed to harvest a 100 days to grow and once it has flowered it is cut and left to dry. It is then laid flat and traditionally the woody stem are left to rot. This is known as dew retting. Now adays the internal fibres are exposed by more mechanical methods.
The word ‘Line’ is the name given to one long thin fibre of flax. The retted stems are broken to remove the woody waste and the fibres are combed or hackled ready for spinning into thread. This thread is then woven into cloth in exactly the same way as cotton, silk or wool.
As well as being a gorgeous fabric, linen has many unique properties. It is renowned for being cool to sleep in and this is because when it comes into contact with the skin, nodes the length of the fibres absorb perspiration, then swell and release the moisture into the outside air, thus creating a fabric that is self-cooling by evaporation. It is particularly suitable for people who get very hot in bed or when sleeping in hot climes. But Linen also has another benefit. The fibres are hollow so as well as keeping you cool in summer, they can trap warm air in the winter add extra warmth in the winter months. The ultimate versatile fabric!
Linen is virtually lint free as a fabric, it is non static, moth resistant, non allergenic and has a natural ability to prevent bacterial growth. It is totally biodegradable and recyclable.
Linen thread does have less natural elasticity than cotton and has a crisper handle. It does crease but with continual use, handling and washing it will get softer. It also gets stronger when it is wet so is therefore more durable when being washed and thus has greater longevity than cotton.
Linen care tips:
- Always dry Linen naturally and do not tumble dry. If the fibres become over heated they become brittle and the fabric will effectively crack.
- For the best results, wash at up to 60 degrees on a normal cycle. Some white cloths and sheets can even be done at 90.
- Hang to dry and then steam iron while still slightly damp.
- An insider tip from for the perfect banqueting linen cloth is to roll the still slightly damp linen up and pop into a plastic bag. Put into a freezer for approximately 2 hours and then steam with a very hot iron. Your linen tablecloth will then be silky smooth!
For 24 hours from 12pm on Sat 24th June there will be an extra 24% our Brunswick Linen if you use code MIDSUMMER24 to order.