Linen dates back several centuries and was originally used to make fancy robes and dresses for the wealthy men and women of society. There are pictures, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, of linen being made and worn. From your kitchen tea towel to your favourite summer jacket – linen is not only incredibly versatile; it is also all natural and amazingly durable. It’s a fabric that is all around us, and has been for centuries. Here we take a closer look into the fascinating world of linen and its type.
What Is Linen?
Linen is a hard-wearing, natural fabric made from fibers of the flax plant. This purple flowering plant is grown worldwide and in particular in Western Europe. The flax plant is extremely versatile and can also be used to produce linseed oil as well as textiles. Due to improvements in fabric production, linen has become more affordable and can be blended with many other fibers. Many types of linen are a stylish addition to every wardrobe and make up into comfortable suits and cool casualwear, particularly for hot climates. Linen is favored for its strength and superior absorbency. Due to its open weave and distinctive fibers, it is prone to wrinkling. Rather than shy away from this property, many designers incorporate this into their distinctive designs. Linen is more expensive than cotton to manufacture and may be blended to reduce its cost. Uses of linen types of fabric include:
- Bedding including sheets and duvet covers
- Tablecloths and table runners
- Dish Towels (Tea Towels)
- Clothing and suits
- Bags and Purses
Linen is a natural fiber, like cotton, but it takes longer to harvest and make into fabric, as flax fibers can be difficult to weave. The fibers are extracted from the plant and stored for long periods of time to soften the fibers. Linen is a common material used for towels, tablecloths, napkins, and bedsheets.
Linen keeps you cooler than cotton. Two main factors that make linen cooler than cotton are its breathability and the ability to wick away moisture. This means you will sweat less when wearing linen, as the wide, lengthy fibers of linen allow air to pass through the fabric, keeping you cool.
Over drying linen can also cause shrinkage. Linen should never be tumble dried on high heat, which not only can cause the fibers to shrink, but break altogether. Instead, if linen is pre-washed, place linens in a dryer on low heat. ... Following the tag can help reduce the likelihood that the linen fabric will shrink.
Why are linen sheets so expensive? Think of linen as the fine jewelry of bedding. Like most precious stones and metals, linen sheets are more expensive because they're rarer. For one thing, linen is more difficult and costly to harvest and produce than most other materials.
Some people may prefer to purchase sheets made from a fabric other than linen. Here are some alternatives to consider: Cotton: Regular cotton sheets are generally widely available, and they can be inexpensive and soft. Polyester: This material is inexpensive and durable.
History Of Linen
Linen is one of the oldest fabrics in the world. Although historians are uncertain about exactly when the fabric was invented there are examples of it, discovered in Turkey, 7000 BC. The Egyptians also loved linen and it was one of their principle fabrics. The cloth was worn by the common people, their impressive sails were made from strong linen, and of course their famous mummies were bandaged in it.
The Greeks and Romans also used a lot of linen. It was worn as togas or robes and used on a daily basis. The Romans were known to have embellished their robes with gold and silver, embroidered to demonstrate their status and wealth. In more recent times, during the 16th century it was Germany and Prussia that would become famous for producing the best linen. Saxony and Silesia were particularly famed for their strong fabrics. Both fine and coarse linen was produced in this region and exported throughout Europe.
Properties And Benefits
Linen is an all-natural fibre. Made from the fibres of the flax plant it has similar qualities to other natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk. It is a fabric that is probably most associated with its durability and strength, which make it excellent for sheets. This hardwearing fabric can withstand a lot – able to be washed at high temperatures and tolerate a hot iron. What you may not know is that linen is also antifungal, antibacterial and can protect from harmful solar radiation. When woven finely, this cool lightweight fabric makes an excellent choice for summer.
- Antifungal and antibacterial
- Strong and durable
- Easy to launder
- Easy to dye
- An ideal fabric for summer:
Types Of Linen
There are many different types of linen today to choose from and all valued for their softness, durability, strength of fiber and texture.
Here are different types of linen used today:
Damask linen is a beautiful mixture of plain and satin weave, giving the linen a smooth texture and reversible design. It is widely used for tablecloths and napkins since it is usually produced in block colors.
This is a variation of Damask linen. Its signature mark is the large floral prints and fine graceful drapes.
Loosely Woven Linens
Loosely woven linens are highly absorbent. One of the varieties of this linen is known as Bird’s Eye linen. It has a pattern that resembles a bird’s eye. Loose weave linen is used for toweling and baby diapers.
This linen blend is either made from pure linen or a blend of cotton and linen. Huckaback linen makes up beautifully into towel lengths. It is very absorbent and light weight.
Plain Woven Linen
Plain woven types of linen, also known as glass toweling, are usually found in checks or striped in blue or red. The reason it is also called glass toweling is that it is great for wiping glasses over and removing smudges. It has a loose weave and this makes it extra soft and suitable for different cleaning purposes. The main item made from plain woven linen is tea towels (dishcloths) as it is highly absorbent.
Handkerchief linen is a plain weave linen. It is used for handkerchiefs and for soft blouses because it hangs softly.
This is another variation of a plain weave linen. This linen is treated with a mixture of starch and oil until it becomes opaque. The result is a linen ideal to use for window shades and lampshades.
Cambric types of linen have a very fine weave and originate from Cambria, France. It is used for delicate items like handkerchiefs and lingerie.
Butcher's linen is another variety of plain weave linen, but it is stiff and coarse. Butcher’s linen is well suited to aprons and heavy-duty clothing.
Sheeting linen is a heavy fabric that is very wide. This is a versatile fabric used for sheets and for clothing. Dresses and suits and other linen clothing look good made out of sheeting linen.
Towelling, with its looped weave, is ideal for towels and it comes in different widths for the purpose of cutting out towels of different sizes.
Types Of Linen Blends
Linen can be blended with other fibers. It may be blended to reduce the cost or to better suit a particular purpose.
Linen And Cotton Blend
This fabric is a 50/50 mix of linen and cotton. The cotton gives the fabric more body and helps it to crease less. It is used for dresses, jackets, skirts and aprons. One reason to blend the fibers is that it keeps the texture of linen, but has more body which is especially important for jackets.
Linen And Silk Mix
Linen and silk blends have the look of linen but due to the silk, has an extra sheen. It is a smart fabric and used for expensive suits, dresses and skirts.
Linen And Polyester
Polyester is often added to linen blends to reduce the cost and also to reduce the amount of wrinkling.
Types Of Linen Purposes
Linen can also be classified by its purpose. Here are some common types of linen purposes.
Suiting linen is a strong fabric with a crisp finish. It comes in different weaves like herringbone, twill, and plain weave. It makes up into summer shirts aprons, dresses skirts and jackets.
There are three main areas of the house that use linen -the bedroom, bathroom and on the table. Each area has a selection of functional linen products including sheets, napkins, tablecloths, table runners and towels.
Bathroom linen combines the weave of linen with loops from the loom and weaving process. The loops contribute to the linen being absorbent. Bathroom linens vary in size and include washcloths or facecloths, hand towels, bath sheets and bath towels, rugs and bath mats.
Bed Linen Or Bedding
Bedding types of linen include sheets and duvet covers to suit differing bed sizes. Single, three quarter, double, queen and King size and California King beds are the common sizes. Sheets can be fitted or flat for each bed size. Bed linen includes ruffles, duvet covers, pillow slips and comforters as well as blankets.
Table linen covers a wide range of table sizes and styles. There are round, square, rectangle and oblong tables with tablecloths to fit on them. The length of the drop of the cloth may differ too. Added to cloths are napkins, table runners, and table mats. Linens for interiors are manufactured in a variety of colors and designs to add variety and interest to table linen sets.
Is Linen Sustainable?
Yes! Since it doesn’t require much water and chemicals to produce, linen is considered a more environmentally friendly fibre than many others. While there are some concerns over the release of toxic chemicals during production, this fabric is overall one of the least environmentally damaging textiles out there.
How To Care For Linen
Now that you know the different types of linen fabric and what this fabulous material is made of, let’s discuss how to care for your most precious linen garments. Follow these simple steps to get your linen feeling, looking, and smelling good as new after every wash:
Choose The Right Washing Method.
Dry Clean your linen in order to retain its crispness. For fabric softening, or if your linen is embroidered or embellished with lace, hand wash the item using good quality detergents in cool water. Have a look at this useful guide to hand washing linen. If you’re using a machine to wash your everyday linen, always check the care label.
Choose The Right Product.
Use a mild detergent to avoid damaging the fibres and add Comfort Intense Fresh Sky Conditioner to give the fabric a special treatment. This will leave clothes feeling softer, smoother, and less wrinkled. Our fabric conditioners also contribute to a better planet through concentrated products and reduced plastic waste.
Once clean, air dry naturally while hanging up to help avoid any annoying wrinkles or stiffness. You can also use a tumble dryer but make sure it is set to a low setting. To help restore the fabric and remove creases more easily, make sure you use a fabric conditioner in the washing phase.
Linen all wrinkled after washing and drying? Don’t worry. Linen is safe to iron, but you’ll likely need a high heat with some steam to remove creases. Test the iron on a small area first to prevent damage and iron clothes inside out if they have any embellishments. Ironing while the linen is still slightly damp may help too. Now that you know how to care for linen and how sustainable it can be, you can rest assured that you’re benefiting both your wardrobe and our beautiful blue planet. In other words, fashion with a greater purpose!
Linen truly is remarkable for its versatility and quality. It is a product used for all sorts of purposes. It has traveled through time from ancient Egyptian days as a cloth for mummification to the modern-day fabric found in homes, factories and art galleries. It is everywhere you can think of from bathrooms to bedrooms, appearing as a humble washcloth or a vibrant work of art. Linen is loved by all and so are all the types of linen.