Linen is a term that is frequently misused. It is often incorrectly applied to many woven fabrics, such as cotton and hemp when those fabrics use a linen weave. However, true linen is made with flax fibers, meaning that other fabrics can never truly be linen.
Linen has been around for many thousands of years, precisely because of the fact that it is well known for high quality of the cloth. Though cotton and and more recently, man made fabrics have grown in popularity, linen has remained a popular choice with those who are looking for the best. There are many reasons to choose linen over cotton or man made fabrics.
Compared to other fabrics, linen is light and cooling. Because the individual fibers are so strong, it is possible to weave a looser cloth. This allows not only for a lighter feel, but also for the passage of more air through the cloth. This makes it perfect for summer time clothing when people are generally hot and bothered, and cooling fabrics are ideal. This property also lends itself well to curtains in the summer time.
Though it may sound a contradiction, linen can also be warming, as plant fibers are a wonderful insulator. A tighter weave, or linen worn in layers helps to keep you warm, making it a perfect winter time cloth too. When used for curtains, it can help keep a room cool in summer by shielding the room from the sun, but allows ventilation too. In winter, it keeps the room warm by insulating windows from the cold outside.
Compared to cotton, linen is two to three times stronger. In fact, it’s fibers are stronger than any other plant fiber, so when woven will create a cloth that is long lasting. Though a little more expensive than cotton or man made fabric, its strength means that when well cared for, it will outlive either.
If a soft feel fabric is important to you, there can be no better than linen. It is soft to begin with, and continues to get softer with every wash you give it. That softness is maintained as the fabric ages as it does not suffer from pilling, so does not develop the scratchiness that cotton can do with age.
Absorbing liquid is something that cotton is rated well for, but that man made fabrics don’t do so well at. Linen is better than either of these, being able to wick moisture away from the skin incredibly quickly, making the person wearing it feel comfortable. It dries quickly, ready to absorb more moisture if the need arises. It resists staining, maintaining its natural beauty instead and is easy to wash.
All round, linen is an underrated fabric that is regaining popularity thanks to it’s beauty, its longevity, and its ability to be warm in the winter or cool in the summer. As these many strengths are being rediscovered, there are a wide range of linen goods finding their way into our stores.