is the fabric made from flax fibers, and today, it finds use in a wide range of
areas, from household fabric (napkins, tablecloths, sheets, towels, drapes etc)
to fashionable garments. In the past, linen was also used to make lightweight
undergarments like shirts, chemises, waist shirts, and lingerie. Because flax
is so difficult to grow, it is an expensive fiber produced in small quantities.
It has a longer staple than cotton and other natural fibers, which makes it stronger
and more durable.
are flax fibers about?
Flax fibers vary in length from between
2" and 36" and are 12-16 micrometers in diameter. There are two varieties of fibers:
the tow fibers that are used for rougher fabrics and the line fibers used for
finer fabrics. In all cases, however, the cross-section of the fiber is made up
of irregular polygonal shapes, which make up the more or less coarse texture of
qualities of linen
In general, linen fabrics have a natural luster,
and their color ranges between creamy white, tan, or gray. Though you can obtain
pure white linen by heavy bleaching, there is a chance that the fabric may be
partially damaged. When it comes to texture, linen can be stiff and coarse as
well as soft and smooth. Typically, linen both absorbs and loses moisture rapidly,
and an added benefit is that it can absorb quite a bit of moisture initially without
This is a major reason why linen is doesn't cling to the
skin as cotton does when you sweat. Even it does become sweat-soaked, it will
dry out quickly, so that you always feel cool wearing it. In the majority of cases,
linen is a strong fabric that does not stretch, which means it has low elasticity,
which in turn means that it can break if you keep folding it in the same place.
Mildew, sweat residues, and chlorine bleach can also damage linen, but it is resistant
to moths and carpet beetles.
At TrimFabric, we offer a wide range of linen articles
for you to look through and select, from lightweight and medium weight articles
to heavyweight blends. We also offer both printed and various white linens, as
well as blends. For instance, we have on offer a plaid print
linen fabric (item code #K-20) that is 45" wide and is 100% hand wash linen.
Another great buy is the Poland linen fabric (item code
#K-62), which is 60" wide, hand wash, and a blend of 80% linen and 20% rayon.
Or you may wish to have a look at our white linen embroidered
fabric (item code #UU-98), which is once again 100% linen, and hand wash.
is relatively low maintenance since it is fairly dust and stain-resistant, and
can be dry cleaned, machine washed or steamed. However, see our article on Linen
Care for details.
Many countries in the world produce flax, but the best
quality flax comes from Western Europe. Similarly, in recent years, Eastern Europe
and China have begun producing linen, but the best quality linen still comes from
Ireland, Italy and Belgium.
Today, linen is predominantly used in the fashion industry,
while a smaller percentage goes to the domestic fabrics industry as well. Linen
is used to make bed and bath fabrics like tablecloths, towels, bed sheets, etc.,
home and commercial furnishings like upholstery, drapes, etc., clothing, and industrial
products like items of luggage.
We just had to end with very interesting
usage of linen: did you know that paper made of linen is exceptionally strong
and crisp? That is the reason why the USA and many other countries print their
currency on paper made from 25% linen and 75% cotton. Now remember that the next
time you slip on that linen jacket!
HISTORY OF LINEN FABRIC
The history of linen goes so far back in
time that one would have trouble pinpointing exactly when and where it was first
used. It is certainly the oldest textile material in the world. Fragments of straw,
seeds, fibers, and yarns dating back to about as far back as 8000 B.C. have been
discovered in ancient lake dwellings in Switzerland.
Linen was also used
in the Mediterranean region in the pre-Christian era, and between 5,000 and 3,000
years ago, Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was held to be a
symbol of light and purity. In the modern era, Egyptologists have discovered that
some of the Egyptian linen wrappings, woven from hand spun yarns, were extremely
fine. Indeed, even modern spinning machines cannot replicate that degree of fineness.
What makes linen
Thus we find that linen, which is made from flax, has
been used as a household and clothing fabric for many millennia. The specialty
of linen lies in the fact that its production is an extremely difficult and protracted
process because flax requires a great deal of care for its growth. Moreover, flax
does not lend itself to weaving easily because of a lack of elasticity, which
obviously makes it more expensive to grow commercially than cotton.
all the trouble required to produce linen, therefore, it had better be pretty
darned special to be worth it - and it is! To begin with, linen is stronger and
tougher than cotton, owing to the parallel arrangement of its fibers. Second,
linen is a highly absorbent material (which makes it perfect for tableware like
dish towels and napkins). Basically, linen provides a combination of strength
and softness that is hard to match.
The special nature of linen is what we focus on at TrimFabric,
where we obtain domestic materials from New York City's renowned "Garment District"
as well as import items from Europe. We have been catering to quality and price
conscious customers for decades and we can vouch for the superiority of our linen,
which is a product of centuries of tradition and is born out of a commitment to
After that brief digression, we return to the history
of linen. Did you know that the word linen is derived from
linum (retain italics), which is Latin for the flax
plant, and the earlier Greek linon? This etymology,
or word history, of linen has generated a number of other English terms*:
The word line is
derived from the use of a linen thread to determine a straight line
Lining comes from the fact that linen was often used to create an inner
lining for wool and leather garments
originally meant underwear made of linen
is a European bird belonging to the finch species that eats flax seed
Linseed oil is
oil derived from flax seed
is a floor covering made from linseed oil and other materials
The term flaxen-haired, used to describe a
very light, bright blonde, comes from a comparison to the color of raw flax fiber
Even before man began wearing wool, which was pretty long
ago, therefore, he had discovered linen. The ancient Egyptians were pioneers in
the field of nine weaving and use, but the rest of the world soon caught on as
the popularity of linen grew among Greeks and Romans. In the Medieval era, Europeans
and West Asians had also become linen fans, and plenty of people wore linen tunics
beneath woolen robes, which is when linen almost became synonymous with underwear,
hence the word lingerie.
So yes, linen
has been around an awfully long time, but given all its attributes, that's hardly