Linen is a natural fibre that is made from the flax plant. It is durable and is well known as a cool fabric, making it great to wear next to the skin in hot weather as the weave allows air flow through the garment, its cooling properties are also due to the fact that the fibres are very absorbent, so wick sweat away from the skin quickly allowing it to evaporate away with cooling effect. Linen is often used for bedding and clothing due to its unique cooling properties.
Flax plants are mainly grown throughout Europe with certain countries being known for producing finer quality flax, due to better growing conditions for the plants. Some of these countries include Ireland, Belgium and Russia.
Flax plants are usually harvested by pulling the plant up from the root rather than cutting it down, as the fibres run all the way up through the plant from the root, so pulling them up keeps the fibres long. This is either done by hand (usually more expensive cloth comes from this) or a machine similar to a combine grabs the plants and pulls them out.
Once the flax plants have been harvested they are left in the field to undergo retting or alternatively they can be taken, a process where the inner stalks break down to leave the straw outer and the stalk fibres that can be processed and turned into linen. These remaining fibres are then threshed to remove the seeds (linseeds) which can then be used for oils or the seeds themselves. The remaining plants are then processed to remove the outer straw from the fibres to make the remaining fibres supple and ready to be spun into linen.
Linen is one of our favourite fabrics at Livingstone Textiles, and is loved by our customers who are fans of natural fibres. We have a selection of linens available to buy online, and even more in our stores in Bridport Dorset and Yeovil Somerset.