Linen is considered a vegetable fiber – a natural fiber that comes from the flax plant. It’s an excellent fabric for garments, table linens and bed sheets, but since linen is an expensive fabric to manufacture, its use is limited.
Linen is one of the oldest woven fabrics in human history and was once considered suitable only for royalty. Purple linen was the material used in king’s robes – purple being the color representing royalty and linen, a finer quality lightweight fabric. This quality has made it popular in hot climates for thousands of years.
Today most flax planets used for fabric is grown in Western Europe and the fabric is manufactured there as well. Good quality linen is soft and free of “slubs” – the small knots that can be felt within the weave. Slubs are only found in lesser quality linen.
Linen fabric is an ideal choice for clothing and bed sheets because it is durable and wicks moisture away from the skin, however, the down side is that it wrinkles easily. Not only is linen prone to wrinkling, but it is more difficult to iron than other fabrics. In order to eliminate the wrinkles, you must either use a steam iron or spritz the fabric with water.
I can remember as a child, my grandmother dampening her linen towels, rolling them into the shape of a log and then placing them in the refrigerator to keep them moist, removing them one by one for ironing. It seemed as though she ironed for hours, but apparently it was worth it to have fresh, crisp, and beautifully ironed linens. When I was grown and started keeping a house of my own, I was given a linen dish towel. It was very absorbent and perfect for drying dishes, but it wrinkled terribly. I have to admit that I didn’t have the time or interest to stand and iron it as my grandmother surely would have done.
If you love the coolness, luster, and strength of linen fabric, and don’t mind the extra work involved to keep it looking fresh and crisp, then linen is a perfect choice of fabric for you.