Linen Fabric

About Linen

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen textile history goes back many thousands of years. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was seen as a symbol of light and purity, and was also a display of wealth. Today linen is usually an expensive textile that is produced in relatively small quanities because it is more labor-intensive to manufacture than other fabrics. When it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather. Compared to cotton and other natural fibers it has a long fiber length which makes for a stronger fabric. Linen fabrics have a high natural luster; their natural color ranges between shades of ivory, ecru, tan, or grey. The two sides of a linen cotton mix towel we are evaluating are shown below.

Linen Towel Linen Towel

Pure white linen is created by heavy bleaching. Linen typically has a thick and thin character with a crisp and textured feel to it, but it can range from stiff and rough, to soft and smooth. Linen fabric has great absorbtion properties and dries quickly. Linen blended with cotton makes a very nicely absorbent high quality towel. Towels containing linen content are usually close to the natural colors of linen since linen does not take bright colored dyes well.

Linen Fabric Care

Highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat, linen fabric feels cool to the touch. Linen is the strongest of the vegetable fibers, compared with cotton it has 2 to 3 times the strength. It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint free, and gets softer the more it is washed. Good quality linen is highly absorbent and will quickly wicks perspiration away from the body. Linen is a stiff fabric and is less likely to cling to the skin; when it billows away, it tends to dry out and become cool so that the skin is being continually touched by a cool surface. It is a very durable, strong fabric, and one of the few that are stronger wet than dry. The fibers do not stretch and are resistant to damage from abrasion. However, because linen fibers have a low elasticity, the fabric will eventually break if it is folded and ironed at the same place repeatedly.

Linen is relatively easy to take care of, since it resists dirt and stains, has no lint or pilling tendency, and can be dry cleaned, machine washed or steamed. It can withstand high temperatures, and has only moderate initial shrinkage. Linen is more resistant to moths and carpet beetles than other fabrics.

Linen wrinkles very easily, and so linen garments often require ironing. Machine tumble drying should be avoided: it is much easier to iron when damp and then hang to dry. However most linen garments can be air dried on a good hanger and worn without the necessity of ironing.

A characteristic often associated with contemporary linen yarn is the presence of "slubs", or small knots which occur randomly along its length. These slubs are actually defects associated with low quality. The best quality linen has very consistent diameter threads although the slubs are preferred for some rustic style textile arts.