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About Linen Fabric: Properties and How it’s Made

What is linen?

Linen (or flax) is an annual plant that reaches a height of about 8” to 40”. Flax fiber is obtained from the stalks of the flax (or linen) plant. Just like cotton or hemp, it is one of the natural plant fibers.

Flax is undemanding and thrives best in temperate climates such as in northern and western Europe. 80% of the flax plants grow in Europe.

When harvesting, the stalks of flax are first pulled out of the ground together with the roots and placed on the field. The flax stalks decompose until the flax fibers inside the stalks can be separated from the rest of the plant.

Several processing steps are now necessary to obtain the linen fibers:

Farmers first remove the seed pods. The flax stalks are spread out on the field: sun, rain and morning dew ensure that the fibers separate (“dew rust”). This fermentation process takes a few weeks. The decomposed plant parts rot into humus and supply the soil with important nutrients. A sustainable process that makes the use of fertilizers unnecessary. Only then is the plant dried. The stalks are now brushed, bundled, and processed into linen fabric by breaking and swinging the long fibers from which, a yarn can finally be spun. Since the fibers are quite irregular in themselves, care must be taken when weaving to use a very even, expensive yarn.

The many steps involved in processing these fibers are very complex, which is why linen is one of the more expensive fabrics.

The look and the ability to dissipate heat, absorb moisture and be extremely easy to care for make linen the perfect summer fabric.

Advantages:

  • breathable and moisture-regulating
  • has a cooling effect in Summer.
  • dirt-repellent
  • antibacterial
  • sturdy and durable
  • easy-care
  • lint free
  • light
  • biodegradable

Disadvantages:

  • prone to creases (many people really like the creased look!)
  • not abrasion resistant
  • sensitive to dry heat (linen should only be ironed with a damp cloth and not tumble dried)

Why is linen particularly sustainable?

Linen or flax is a particularly sustainable material due to its ecological cultivation and the special harvesting process. Especially compared to cotton, which requires significantly more fertilizer and pesticides to grow and a lot of water.

The ecological benefits are:

  • Regional cultivation.
  • Short transport routes save CO2 emissions.
  • Organic farming.
  • Due to the special harvesting process, hardly any fertilizers and pesticides are required.
  • Suitable for organic cultivation.
  • Very low water consumption.
  • Compared to cotton production, linen cultivation requires significantly less water, and no artificial irrigation is necessary.
  • Also, very sustainable as a finished product.
  • It is not only very sustainable in production, but also as a finished product, as it is very durable, easy to care for and robust.
  • It is biodegradable.

 

Did you know that linseed oil and linseed are also extracted from flax in addition to the fiber?

 

Looking to add some wonderful pieces to your wardrobe?

Various unique linen garments that I’ve created are available right now in my shop.

Angela
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