How is Linen Fabric Made?
- Linen is one of the oldest materials that was used by people thousands of years ago.
- Linen fabric is mostly known for its exceptional durability and longevity.
- Growing and cultivating linen are complex, expensive, and time-consuming processes.
We all love linen production for its exceptional durability, breathability, and, of course, gorgeous look. Linen for clothing has already become a top choice during hot summer weather due to the fabric being incredibly lightweight, airy, and, most importantly, natural.
Linen production is also widely used for making various bedding layers - top sheets, duvet covers, pillowcases...you name it! Believe it or not, just changing your current bedding set to the one made of pure linen could significantly improve the quality of your sleep.
So, how is this magical material made?
Short History of Linen
According to history, the flax plant was first cultivated 9000 years ago somewhere in the Mediterranean and Asian regions.
In Palestine and Egypt, flax fiber was in use even before that time. Egyptians famously used flax fiber for clothing, ropes, sails, and even their mummification processes.
Ancient civilizations discovered this sturdy material a long time ago and today it has become very popular and can be found in nearly every household.
From Flax to Linen Fabric: How Linen is Made?
- Flax fiber is cultivated roughly 100 days after it has been planted - when most of the seed heads turn to gold or yellow. Therefore, the harvesting date varies.
- Linen is usually hand-picked from a flax plant. To keep linen fibers long they are pulled with all the roots rather than cut. That's why human hands are the most effective equipment in this case.
Important: In order to obtain the highest quality flax fibers, flax seeds should be planted during cool and cloudy weather - not too hot and not too cold.
- After pulling the flax fibers, they have to be tied together. Such bundles of flax fibers are then placed in a dry and sunny place to dry out completely.
- When linen bundles are completely dry it is time to collect seeds from their seed heads! This process is usually called rippling. The principle of this process is simple: bashing the dry ends of the linen bundles up until the seeds come out of them completely. Flaxseeds are then put into some kind of dry jar or bag and can be stored for a couple of years.
- Moving on, it's time for the retting process! Simply speaking - this is the process when linen plants are partially rotted in a special pond. During this process, the flax fiber is separated from the rest of the stem.
Now, if you think that the process from flax to linen fabric ends here - we have to disappoint you, let’s continue!
- Moving further, there is a process called scutching - when the remaining shives are extracted from the flax fibers.
- Followed by the hackling process - when the flax is prepared for spinning.
- Finally, we reach the weaving process when the actual linen fabric starts to be made.
- Lastly, linen fabric is bleached to turn into that crisp white color instead of the natural beige shade.
As you can see there is a lot that goes into making your linen garments and household items. The process of turning flax into linen is lengthy and often requires a lot of hand handling by people as there is no machine alternative. Hopefully, you can begin to see why some linen items can seem pricey but when you consider the process it starts to make sense.
Places Where High-Quality Linen Comes From
Currently, the majority of the best quality linen is grown in European countries - especially France and Belgium. Have you ever heard of Belgian linen? It is considered one of the most popular and luxurious options.
Truth to be told, not all Belgian or French linen is actually made in France or Belgium. To speed up the processes, retailers usually purchase flax from these countries but the production process happens in other countries, such as Portugal.
Reasons to Love Linen Material
We never get bored talking about how amazing linen fabric is. And we don't mind repeating ourselves:
Linen is antiallergenic. Pure linen fabric is made of the natural flax plant fibers that make it antiallergenic and make it resistant to mold, bacteria, fungus, and various dust mites.
Linen is eco-friendly. No chemicals are used while growing and processing pure linen.
Linen is durable. Linen sheets are 5 times more durable than cotton sheets.
Linen is comfortable. Linen is a moisture-wicking and exceptionally breathable fabric. Also, linen fabrics are great for all year use because they provide the best microclimate to the skin. Not to mention how lightweight and soft the fabric itself is!
Linen sheets have character. Linen bedding is naturally wrinkled and that adds character and texture allowing you to create a cozy bedroom look.
Why Is Linen So Expensive?
Now that you've reached the last part of this article, you may already understand why the price of the linen remains stably high compared to any other material. The growing process of flax plants is very specific. Not only does it require specific knowledge, but it also takes a lot of time and human resources.
Growing is one thing, but the whole path from the flax plants to the finished linen product is even more complex. It requires a lot of work, money, and patience to process the flax plant in a way that everyone could enjoy and reap its natural benefits.
Because linen fabric has so many advantages and is extremely durable there is no doubt it is worth the investment. Also, you can take comfort in knowing that your linen sheet set will last for many years to come.