Linen - The What, The When And The Why

Jan 13 09:53 2010 Gen Wright Print This Article

Most cloth items used in a British household are referred to as "linens".

On the Internet,Guest Posting we hear about silk linen, hemp linen, so on and so forth. People rave about the versatility, availability and comfort of linen fabrics, but very few know much about the origins of this fabric.

Linen - true and natural, as opposed to all fabrics called "linens" these days - is fabric woven from the flax plant. The fibres of the plant are used for weaving, while the seeds have oil extracted from them or are eaten. The best feature of linen fabric is that it remains cool and fresh even in hot and humid climates, which is why it has become such a popular material in the manufacture of undergarments, shirts, vests and similar clothing.

Environmentally, too, linen is highly friendly and sustainable. Flax requires very low amounts of fertiliser or pesticide for its cultivation, and every part of the plant is used for some productive purpose or the other. Additionally, flax cultivation is labour-intensive, which means it generates a living for many people.

Since it is completely natural, linen does not provoke allergies or skin irritations the way synthetic fabric tends to do. Coupled with its naturally cooling nature, this makes linen the ideal material for undergarments for sensitive skins.

Linen is probably the earliest fabric known to civilisation. The Egyptians used linen cloths for mummification - in fact, the linen curtains on King Tutankhamen's tomb were found completely intact, though the structure was well over 2500 years old when Howard Carter discovered it. There are records of linen industries in Egypt from over 4000 years ago.

Today, Linen is mostly produced in Eastern Europe and China, though the top-quality niche linens usually come out of Ireland, Belgium and Italy. While the linen pocket-handkerchief is no longer the fashion statement it used to be, linen has made a vast comeback in the fashion industry.

Thanks to the variety of its texture, it is now used in concept dresses, high fashion as well as ready-to-wear outfits. Linen has a tendency to wrinkle very easily, but this can be used to its advantage in wedding gowns, skirts or scarves. Sheer summer clothing is often made with a significant proportion of linen, due to the cooling properties of the fabric.

Other than clothing, linen is used practically all over the house. From reusable hand towels and babies' nappies to tablecloths and bedclothes, you can find or use it anywhere. Linen is available in thin, lacy decorative fabric, or in a tougher, thicker and more durable material suitable for rough use.

Linen cloth needs some care to prevent it from wrinkling or losing its finish. It is best if you get your expensive linens professionally dry-cleaned and ironed, but you can wash most linens by hand or in the machine. Do not keep your linens folded - hang them instead. Always iron your linens while they are damp, and begin on the wrong side; iron on the right side only if the linen is light-coloured and you want to give it a finished sheen.

By wearing and using linen, you do more than just staying "fabric loyal". You help the environment, limit your exposure to toxins, and help create jobs for thousands of people who would otherwise be unemployed.

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Gen Wright
Gen Wright

Browse Table linen and Bed linen - lots of choices available.

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