WHAT IS LINEN AND HOW SUSTAINABLE IS LINEN FABRIC?
When it comes to fashion, linen is a pioneer in terms of sustainability. Lightweight, breathable, durable, and fashionable, it’s no surprise that linen is a popular fabric! Linen provides several benefits for both people and the environment. We’ve all heard of linen as the ideal homeware décor, our favorite summertime trousers, or a luxurious bedspread. But what exactly is linen, and what are the various types of linen fabric?
This article will inform you of everything you need to know about linen, such as what it is made of, whether it is sustainable, and how to care for it. If you thought you liked linen before, you’re about to discover a whole new love for it!
SHORT HISTORY OF LINEN
Linen is the oldest known textile, with linen fibers discovered in ancient caves in SouthEast Europe that are believed to be 36,000 years old! In Swiss lake dwellings, fragments of straw, seeds, yarns, and fabrics, including linen samples dating to around 8,000 BC, have been discovered.
There was a thriving trade in German flax and linen in the Middle Ages. By the ninth century, commodities had spread throughout Germany and into Flanders and Brabant. By the 11th century, flax was being cultivated, and linen was used for clothing in Ireland. In the 12th and 13th centuries, evidence reveals that flax was farmed and traded in Southern England.
WHAT IS LINEN, AND HOW IS IT MADE?
Linen is a natural fiber derived from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum, belonging to the family Linaceae. It is also well-known for its strength and durability, making it a versatile fabric. Due to its high durability, linen has been used in a variety of applications, including bedding, paintings, wallpaper, and apparel. Russia is the world’s largest producer of linen, whereas China is the world’s largest cultivator.
From Flax to Linen Fabric: Here is a little more detail on how it is made?
Cultivating – The flax plant takes roughly 100 days to grow from seed to harvest. Harvesting – Raw flax fibres are harvested.
Hackling – The flax is stripped, stretched, cleaned, and eventually twined into a coarse rope. Roving – A rope is further stretched and wound into fine line fibres.
Spinning – Roved fibres are spun into fine yarn
Dyeing – Yarns are bleached and dyed
Weaving – fibres are weaved into the finest linen
Drying & Processing – the fabric is washed, boiled, starched, ironed, and processed
TYPES OF LINEN
There are many various types of linen available today, all of which are valued for their softness, durability, fibre strength, and texture.
A blend of plain and satin weaves is used to weave Damask linen fabric on a jacquard loom. The damask fabric has a smooth texture with a reversible pattern since the fibres are typically flat and reversible.
Plain woven linen, commonly known as glass toweling, is usually available in blue or red checks or stripes. The loose weave of this sort of linen fabric makes it more absorbent and better suited for cleaning purposes.
Sheeting linen is used to make linen clothes for its untextured, soft surface and tight weave. The thread count of this type of linen is usually higher than that of other linen fabrics.
Cambric linen has a very fine weave and is from Cambria, France. It is used for delicate products such as handkerchiefs and lingerie.
Loosely woven linen fabrics are highly absorbent. Diapers and sanitary towels are two of the most prevalent uses for them. Bird’s Eye linen is a type of loosely woven fabric that is distinguished by small geometric patterns like a bird’s eye.
WHAT MAKES LINEN SUSTAINABLE?
- Flax plants grow naturally, require fewer resources and less water consumption. ● Flax is also used as a rotation crop to improve soil quality, enhance crop growth, and reduce soil erosion.
- Linen yarn is naturally strong, which reduces the need for starching during spinning and weaving.
- Flax farming is great for the environment: According to the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp (CELC), European Flax Fiber retains 250,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
- Flax linen is recyclable and biodegradable, which reduces waste.
- It can be cultivated without the use of pesticides and chemicals.
- Linen fabrics can be recycled to make paper and insulation for the automotive industry.
WHAT IS THERE TO LOVE ABOUT LINEN?
Numerous properties make linen a versatile fabric. Among its best characteristics are: ● Durable and long-lasting – Linen is 30% stronger than cotton and can endure for years due to its long fibres
- Absorbent – capable of absorbing up to 20% of its weight in moisture. ● Breathable – Linen is very breathable due to its long, broad fibres. ● Linen is thermo-regulating i.e., it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. ● Comfort – Linen is quite warm and comfortable to wear.
- Linen has a high abrasion resistance due to its strength.
SO, WHAT IS THERE NOT TO LIKE?
However, no fabric is perfect, so what about linen that isn’t so great? Linen, like cotton, is 100% natural and has a lower wrinkle resistance, which is an evident drawback. You should hang linen garments instead of folding them for storage. Another downside is that, if washed in hard water, linen clothes might lose their charm. Hence extra care has to be taken while using chemicals and detergents to wash textured clothing.
Finally, linen can be expensive because of the manual harvesting and manufacturing process. Despite its excellent features, linen barely accounts for 1% of fabric production due to the cheaper, more wrinkle-resistant materials like cotton.
HOW TO CARE FOR LINEN?
Generally, linen is an easy-to-care fabric. It can be machine washed or dry cleaned. Still, before cleaning your linen garment, always check the care label and follow any special instructions. Let’s discuss how to care for your linen garments.
Wash on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent at low temperatures in warm or cold water. Over time, high temperatures can cause the cloth to shrink and become weak.
For softer, less wrinkled garments, dry at a low temperature, remove when moist, and hang dry. High temperatures cause the fibres to break down more quickly and possibly shrink.
Moisture or steam is a good recommendation for ironing linen garments. Press on a medium heat setting, preferably while the fabric is still damp from the dryer. While ironing dark colors, press on the wrong side of the material.
Do not bleach linen. Fabric softeners aren’t necessary because linen softens naturally with washing. And the chemicals could harm the fabric’s inherent absorbency and ability to drain moisture away.
Hope you get to know this lovely flax fibre better, and it’s simple to see why linen is still in our wardrobes after tens of thousands of years. Linen, like other eco-friendly textiles, could be seen on a spectrum of sustainability.