Ode to linen
On our radar - the now fashion fabric! Antiquity meets modernity.
By Suki Tong
Linen is an ancient fabric that is fast becoming considered the textile of the future. The history of linen stretches back for millennia, and with the revival of ancient philosophies that advocate harmony between people and nature, consumers love linen's natural, sustainable, and timeless character.
Up to now, linen has been associated with comfort leisurewear.
With limited sizzle appeal, all that is changing as linen has been given a chic makeover, as seen in the revamped trench coats in the above picture. Linen is fast becoming a permanent fixture in the fashion industry.
Want to know the ‘The A- Z of LINEN’? Read on…
How is linen made?
Linen is made from the flax plant and one of the most sustainable fabrics, making it a rarity in a fast-fashion culture that we know is harming the planet. There are five stages involved in the making of linen:
1. Pulled Flax- Flax is pulled from the ground
2. Retted Flax- Flax bundled and steeped in water
3. Scutched Flax- Flax removed from the water, dried, beaten to separate and clean fibres
4. Hackled Flax- Flax straightened with hackler, then combed and softened
5. Spun Flax- Flax spun into yarn before been transferred onto loom for weaving
Is linen a more mindful planet friendly option as opposed to cotton?
The cultivation of the flax plant to produce linen fabric uses less resources such as water than other plants like cotton. In addition, the entire flax plant is used to create linen, leaving no environmental footprint behind. If you choose bio-washed linen, the environmental impact is further reduced as the material is washed in bio enzymes rather than chemicals, enhancing the softness of the fabric.
Linen is 100% biodegradable if you choose 100% linen fabric and if you want to go even further with linen's environmental credentials, then choose organic linen, which means that the flax plant is grown without any chemicals and the crop is rotated to preserve the farmland's biodiversity.
Types of linen & uses?
• Damask linen with a jacquard weave for luxury tablecloths & napkins
• Glass towelling lose linen weave which is absorbent for wiping glassware
• Holland linen weave treated with oil & starch perfect for making lampshades
• Cambric fine linen taking its name from Cambria France, used for lingerie
• Butchers' linen, a rough & tough weave used for heavy-duty butchers' aprons
• Sheeting linen, a heavy type of linen used for bedding & suiting
The standard measure of bulk linen yarn is the "lea", which is the number of yards in a pound of linen divided by 300. A yarn having a size of 1 lea will give 300 yards per pound. The finer the linen, the higher the lea count.
How do you know if you are buying real linen?
Read LABELS! It may look and feel like the real deal, but it could turn out to be Faux Linen, or a Linen Blend made up of a mix of materials, cotton and polyester blends or linen and rayon.
In my book Linen does tick off all the boxes of mindfulness!
Natural Temperature Control
Almost Perfect, just wrinkles
Easy to care for
It is my fabric of choice despite the wrinkles as the crinkles in my book add texture and character to a garment. Linen is possibly the coolest and most breathable fibre on the planet, but there is not much you can do about the creases as linen is a plant based fabric made up of stiff crisscross yarns which tend to bend and stay bent.
Should you however be ‘bent’ on removing the wrinkles, you will need to steam press the garment whilst it is still damp on the highest setting, keep the iron in motion to avoid scorching the fabric. If the garment is embroidered, press the underside and iron the embroidered area first to avoid any ‘shine’ on the garment.
Washing and wearing your linen garments regularly will soften the fabric, the one exception would be a linen jacket that will require professional dry cleaning. So read the care instructions on the garment and ROCK the wrinkles!
Hope you enjoyed the content- till next time!