Linen fabric: all you need to know about this fabric
Linen fabric is a material that can be used to make a multitude of garments suitable for any time of the year. In addition to being almost impermeable to the passage of time, it has other characteristics that make it a timeless fabric: it is light, elegant, breathable and comfortable.
Origins of linen fabric
Where does linen fabric come from? The origins of linen go back to ancient Egypt: in the 4th century BC, mummies were wrapped in this fabric. There is also evidence that it was manufactured in various Phoenician communities, and it was one of the key products in Mediterranean trade; hence it is found in other ancient peoples (Babylonians, Romans, Syracusans...).
But the oldest documentation places it in the year 7000 BC, in Çatalhöyük, an ancient settlement located in present-day Turkey.
How linen cloth is made
Linen fabric is a vegetable fibre composed mainly of cellulose. It comes from the stalk of the flax plant, whose edible seed is called linseed.
It is grown organically, as its resistance to pests means that no pesticides or fertilisers are needed during processing, and it generates no waste during manufacture. It also needs less water than cotton. This means that it is more expensive to grow than other more industrial crops, and this is reflected in the price.
It is very versatile, as it can be combined with other vegetable textile fibres such as cotton or viscose to obtain different thicknesses and aspects.
Main characteristics of linen
Linen fabric has these characteristics:
- It is a very strong and durable material, which is why it lasts for so many years. The downside of its resistance is that it is not very elastic, but this helps it to keep its shape easily.
- It protects the skin from ultraviolet rays.
- It is a lightweight material.
- It evaporates water, including sweat.
- It is antibacterial and fungicidal, and neutralises bad odours.
- It helps to eliminate waste from the body, it is used on abrasions and open wounds.
- It is a natural fabric, so it rarely generates allergies.
Advantages of linen in work clothes
Given the qualities listed above, linen is one of the best fabrics for workwear. Here are some of its advantages:
- It is a strong, durable and resistant material, so it will be a garment that will last for many years.
- It is a thermo-regulating fabric, ideal for working in high temperatures, as it keeps us cool.
- Its insulating qualities make it adapts quite well to the climate, so it is suitable for any time of the year, guaranteeing an optimum temperature.
- It absorbs sweat, without the garment sticking to the body. For this reason, it is used for work in high temperatures.
- It dries quickly, so the washing cycle is shorter and you can have it ready before other garments made of other materials.
Care for linen
If you have a linen garment, you may be wondering how to wash linen clothes or how to iron linen clothes. It is important to read the label before cleaning linen.
However, it is generally a fabric that can be machine washed or hand washed, but always with respectful soaps that keep its qualities intact.
In the washing machine, the temperature should be a maximum of 40 degrees. However, it can also be washed in short cycles or dry-cleaned. A frequent question is whether linen clothes shrink when washed, and the answer is yes, a little, but only after the first wash.
It is important that, when drying, the garment is left stretched out in the sun without clothes pegs, as it could become deformed.
As for ironing, linen can withstand high temperatures, but it is better to iron it when it is a little damp. It can also be done with a white handkerchief between the iron and the garment.
Linen is a material that wrinkles very easily, so it is best to keep it hanging in the wardrobe. If you have to store it, it is best to store it in cotton bags rather than plastic bags.
Types of linen
There are different types of textile linen:
- Damask linen. It is made on a geometric type loom, and is combined with satin and plain fabrics, obtaining different motifs and designs. It is a soft fabric used for tapestries, tablecloths, carpets and home decoration in general.
- Rough linen. This is a more absorbent and resistant fabric that is manufactured with coarser fibres. It is more durable and resists wear and tear better. The design is flat, without patterns, and is used for trousers and workwear in general.
- Linen for bed clothes. A strong, heavy, heavy fabric, but soft to the touch and very cool. It is manufactured for making bed linen.
- Handkerchief linen. A fine, thin, soft linen used for handkerchiefs, underwear and summer blouses.
- Bird's eye or towel linen. It is soft and delicate to the touch, but has absorbent properties, it is used in the manufacture of towels.