How is linen fabric made?

by | Mar 7, 2020 | Linen love | 0 comments

Most people are familiar with the word “linen”. But how is it made? What most people don’t know, is that linen fabrics are made from flax

The flax plant comes in two variations. One flowers blue and the other one white. You might have driven past fields full of blue or white flowers once. Those are the flax plants!

Sadly, linen is less popular than it used to be. Back in the times about 30.000 hectares of land where sown with this crop. Nowadays it just sums up to about 2000 hectares. The decline in popularity is mainly caused by the rise of cheaper cotton and the development of synthetic fibres and fabrics.

From flax to linen fabrics

Fibres have to be detached from the woody bark of the flax plant. Those fibres then have to be processed. Flax has very long fibres, which makes it suitable for beautiful fabric production. The plant has a short growing cycle. It has to be sown in March and harvested in July. Growing flax plants requires just a few pesticides. All parts of the plant can be used – from the seed (linseed) to the shortest fibres. Growing flax uses relatively little water. Certainly, when you compare this with the production of a cotton T-shirt. To produce a linen shirt, you would need 6,4L water. For a cotton shirt on the other hand, the required amount of water is 2.700L. The production process of linen however is very labour-intensive. Saying, the processing is not cheap. The natural colour of linen is off-white or light brown.

Properties of sustainable linen

Linen is very strong. Stronger than cotton. The fabric is airy and breathable and can absorb moisture very well. Flax naturally has antibacterial properties. The linen fabric is soft and easy to mix with other fibers such as cotton, silk, viscose or synthetic fibres. In comparison to other natural fibers, linen creases more. But I look at this positively: Linen creases with style. It can discolour when exposed to sunlight and has a low elasticity.

This makes linen very suitable for jackets, beautiful summer shirts, drapey curtains and upholstery.

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