When it comes to choosing the best fabrics, you can’t go wrong with linen
From soft and chic curtains to the comfiest bed linens, unique kitchen textiles and stylish garments, you cannot deny that linen has always been one of the best fabric choices!
This naturally elegant material doesn’t only offer you instant charm, but it is the perfect choice for all of you eco-conscious individuals out there who are just like me.
And so, if you are curious about how linen goes from the soil to your clothes hanger, I suggest sticking around as we delve into the wonderful linen fabric types that exist.
The history of linen fabric types
It may be hard to imagine a time when linen wasn’t around, and well, there is a reason for that. This incredible fabric dates back 36,000 years! That’s right, this fabric has truly stood the test of time as historians found evidence of cavemen using flax fibres to create pieces of linen. In fact, that actually makes linen one of the oldest known fabrics used for human consumption – how amazing?!
Ancient Egyptians used linen for various different things, including clothing, mummifying, bedding and sailcloths. It was even used as a form of currency, since ancient Egyptian society did not use money as we know it today. To this day, the linen that was used to mummify members of the Egyptian nobility remains in perfect condition: a testament to its durability and strength.
What is linen made of?
Linen is not only a beautiful and enduring piece of material, but it is also one of the most eco-friendly materials we have at our disposal. All linen fabric types derive from the flax crop – which, might I add, is an impressively versatile plant. It’s even been used in creating paints, floor covering, ropes, furniture and even cosmetics!
But creating sustainable garments is by far the most popular use for linen!
Okay, so how does a plant become one of your most favoured garments? The journey from fibre to linen starts when large amounts of linen yarn are carefully spun using the long fibres found just behind the bark in the multi-layer stem of the flax plant. And voila, you have fresh, new sustainable linens!
What are the key properties of linen fabric types?
The true reason why linen has endured as a mainstay of the textile industry for so many centuries is because of all of its unbelievable properties. It truly is an incredible material, and here is all the proof that you need:
- 100% linen is completely biodegradable
- Linen boasts low elasticity
- It offers tensile strength and long-lasting durability
- The material is moisture resistant
- Linen doesn’t hold onto cold or heat
Types of linen
You may be surprised to know that there are quite a few different linen fabric types out there! In fact, there are pretty much four main linen categories that exist. All of these are totally natural, sustainable and will take natural dyes – which we love!
Damask linen is generally seen as the standard linen fabric type that is used in more delicate pieces. This includes items like tablecloths that have more ornate details and subtle beauty.
Plain weave linen
Plain weave linen includes the type of linens that come with a more patterned look and a thicker weave so that they are more absorbent. An example of this linen fabric type would be your reusable cloth napkins.
Closely woven linen
Closely woven linens are one of the more popular linen types as their remarkable softness lends itself perfectly to all bedding items like your sheets and duvet covers.
Loose weave linen
Loose weave linen is generally what you will find in your wardrobe as it is quite a durable linen type that is often blended with other materials like cotton to make popular garments.
What is the highest quality linen fabric type?
What I love most about this question is how simple the answer is. If you are looking for the best quality linen around, opt-in for 100% linen. No questions asked. Not only does it have aesthetic appeal and feel incredibly soft, but it is environmentally friendly too. What more could you ask for?!
So, while checking the labels of various materials may seem tedious, the 4 seconds it takes to read the label and check that the fabric is 100% linen will help protect you and our planet. For a full list of sustainable fashion suppliers check it out here.
What are the most common linen uses?
Again, if you still needed a little more convincing about the popularity of linen, just wait and see how often you encounter or use linen in your everyday life. Here are some of its most common uses:
Linen is used in some of the most popular garments. This includes shirts, pants, nightgowns, skirts, vests, blazers, and so much more!
Linen is often used in homeware items, from kitchen towels to tablecloths, napkins and more! Have a quick look through your cupboard, and you will see how it is a common fabric used in homeware.
This one is pretty unsurprising, but it needed to be said anyway. Some of the most comfortable bedding around is made from natural linen materials and can be used for sheets, duvets and pillowcases.
Yes, this one might be a little odd, but it’s true. The presence of linen is undisputed. It is even used in industrial applications like canvases for paintings! And, you may not know this, but before metal, airplanes used to be covered with linen!
What is the best linen fabric type for dyeing?
If you have been reading my blogs for a while now, you know that sustainability and the natural dyeing of fabrics are two of my favourite things. So, I am obviously overjoyed when those two things come together, and that is exactly what 100% linen allows me to do! Using fully natural, eco-friendly linen is the best linen fabric type for all of your colour-dyeing adventures!
And if you aren’t sure where to even begin, please do come and join my Living Colour with the Five Elements online natural dyeing workshop. This is where we learn, grow and create together in a safe and beautiful space. I hope to see you there! Don’t forget to also check out the rest of our blog to delve even deeper into the world of sustainable dyeing.