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what is flax linen

What Is Flax Linen Exactly And How Is It Made?

What is flax linen?

Flax linen has sustainability, breathability and so on, we can know the various characteristics of linen from this article, and the right remedy. At the same time, we also answer you with the production of linen, and the comparison. We hope this article will be helpful to you.

Linen is no ordinary fabric; it holds a rich heritage dating back thousands of years and remains an indispensable element in the textile industry due to its remarkable qualities of strength, durability, and breathability.

Derived from the resilient fibers extracted from flax plants’ stems, linen possesses triple the strength of cotton, making it an exceptional choice for exquisite linens, bedding, fashionable attire, and versatile home textiles.

The arduous process of transforming a flax plant into linen fabrics(like flax material clothing: linen pants, linen shirts;flax linen sheets) has been meticulously honed over numerous generations. Though time-consuming, this intricate journey yields a sumptuous textile that surpasses expectations, solidifying its position as the preferred option for manufacturers and designers across various industries.

What Is Flax Linen?

What Is Flax Linen

Flax linen, a fabric derived from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum, holds a rich history of cultivation spanning thousands of years, tracing back to ancient times. Indigenous to cooler regions, particularly coastal areas of northern Europe, flax thrives in its natural habitat, showcasing exceptional quality and resilience. Flourishing without the need for chemical interventions or irrigation, flax plants in the flax belt, a region extending from northern France to the Netherlands, exhibit natural resistance to pests.

To commence the metamorphosis from flax to linen, farmers begin by uprooting mature stalks from the soil. Following the field fermentation process known as retting, the inner fibers are extracted through the method of scutching. The flax fibers are then categorized into short and long strands, with the longest fibers set aside for the production of linen yarn.

What Are The advantages Of Flax Linen?

  • Sustainability

Flax stands out as one of the more sustainable fibers available today, embodying the essence of a renewable resource. Being a natural plant fiber, flax holds the advantage of being fully compostable in many instances. In comparison to cotton, flax exhibits greater resilience against diseases and weeds while demanding less water for cultivation. This is partly due to the relatively smaller scale of flax production, which inherently contributes to its enhanced sustainability. However, it’s important to note that if flax production experiences a significant surge, potential challenges related to pest management and resource utilization may arise.

According to the Advisory Commission Report to the European Parliament in Brussels on May 20, 2008, flax cultivation on an annual basis brings about positive impacts on ecosystem diversity and provides a valuable environmental pause for soil quality, biodiversity, and landscapes.

  • Moisture-Resistant, Hypoallergenic And Breathable
Moisture-Resistant, Hypoallergenic And Breathable

Derived from the natural, cellulose-based fibers of the flax plant, linen is a hypoallergenic textile that offers both moisture resistance and breathability. Linen has the unique ability to absorb dampness up to 20% without feeling wet, keeping bedding fresher and healthier over time.

With its hypoallergenic properties, linen is a great choice for allergy sufferers and is known to be gentle on the skin. Whether it’s worn as clothing or used for bedding, linen provides a comfortable option for those with sensitive skin.

Linen is also a versatile textile that can be used year-round. In hot weather, it keeps you cool, while in colder months, it provides warmth. Its breathability makes it a perfect choice for bedding, regulating your body temperature for a better night’s sleep. According to Harvard University, a comfortable sleep environment plays a crucial role in overall health.

In addition, it has the stretchiness of linen material.

  • Doesn’t Require Extra Care
Doesn’t Require Extra Care

Customers love how easy it is to care for linen, making it an attractive choice and selling point. Caring for linen is straightforward, as it can be cleaned and dried in a standard washing machine and dryer. Alternatively, it can be hand-washed or dry-cleaned using professional services.

To ensure that your linens stay fresh and well-maintained, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Our article “How To Stretch Linen Dress” provides detailed guidance on the best way to stretch linen.

Remember, regular maintenance is important for high-traffic areas where linens are used frequently. This will help to preserve the fabric’s freshness and extend its lifespan.

  • It Can Be Used For Many Products
It Can Be Used For Many Products

Linen’s remarkable benefits have made it a highly sought-after material for a wide range of products. Companies in the clothing, bedding, window treatment, furniture, and home goods industries regularly choose linen for its exceptional durability, high quality, and moisture-resistant properties.

Moreover, linen finds its application in various other market products, including rugs, rope, curtains, bandages, dolls, luggage, and even books. Here’s an interesting tidbit: linen is even combined with cotton to produce paper currency.

Given its enduring popularity across generations, it’s no surprise that linen, with its rich history spanning thousands of years, remains a special and cherished textile.

  • Bast Fibers

The fibers produced by flax are commonly referred to as bast fibers, which are also found in other plants such as ramie and hemp. These fibers originate from the long stalks of the plants, typically surpassing the length of seed fibers like cotton. Although not as soft, they exhibit remarkable elongation. When observed under a microscope, these fibers bear a striking resemblance to bamboo stalks, featuring occasional small nodes along their structure.

What Is Linen?

What Is Linen

Linen, a yarn or fabric predominantly crafted using the lengthy, thread-like fibers derived from the flax plant, possesses a charmingly rustic and slightly uneven appearance due to the presence of nodes in its bast fibers. However, the elongated nature of these fibers imparts a subtle sheen to the fabric. The most commonly found variety of linen in retail stores is plain-woven linen.

Traditionally utilized in home decor, damask linen showcases a reversible pattern achieved through weaving. This fabric was historically subjected to a process called beetling, which involved beating the linen to enhance its captivating luster. Nonetheless, contemporary imitations of damask linen are predominantly composed of rayon.

As awareness surrounding the sustainable advantages of linen continues to grow, linen jersey knit is gaining popularity. This fabric, thinner and less soft compared to cotton jersey, finds similar applications such as T-shirts but boasts its own unique qualities.

There are many kinds of linen. If you still want to know more about cotton vs linen, you can click to see.

Flax Linen VS Linen

Not all cloth made from flax can be considered linen, as linen represents a higher grade of flax-based fabric. The presence of shorter tow fibers in lower-grade linens diminishes their luster and strength, setting them apart from premium linens.

When it comes to labeling, clothing and fabric derived from linen are often labeled as flax since linen itself is not classified as a separate fiber. Therefore, it’s not a matter of ‘flax vs. linen’ but rather an understanding that linen is a specific type of fabric crafted from flax fibers.

How Is Flax Made?

How Is Flax Made

The process of harvesting flax is a patient and time-intensive endeavor, spanning approximately 100 days from the initial sowing of seeds to the final harvest of flax linen. The cultivation of flax demands shallow planting in moist soil, exclusively thriving in cool temperatures. When the flax plants transition to a yellow or brown hue, it signals their readiness for harvesting. At this stage, the woody bark housing the valuable cellulose fibers undergoes chemical retting or decomposition using water to extract the plant’s beneficial component.

Following the retting process, the flax plant undergoes a series of treatments including squeezing, drying, combing, and spinning. This meticulous process effectively segregates the stronger and longer flax fibers, known as line or dressed flax, from the weaker fibers known as stricks. This segregation holds immense significance as the dressed flax yields luxurious and durable linen, ensuring that Bed Threads products surpass the test of time and become cherished heirlooms. Finally, these dressed flax fibers are spun and dyed to create exquisite bed linen.

  1. Growing: The flax plant thrives in cool, damp climates and requires moist soil to flourish.
  1. Harvesting: To obtain the finest quality fiber, the flax plant is harvested when it reaches its optimal maturity. Instead of cutting the fiber, it is preferable to gently pull it from the ground for two significant reasons: 1) Cutting the fiber results in its shortened length as it extends into the root, and 2) Cutting the roots leads to the loss of sap, which diminishes the overall quality of linen. While flax stalks can be manually pulled from the ground, there are also machines available for this purpose.
  2. Retting: Extracting the long fibers from beneath the bark involves a process known as retting. During this stage, the woody bark decomposes, loosening the gum that binds the fiber to the stem. Retting can be carried out through three different methods: 1) Natural moisture, referred to as dew retting, involves leaving the stalks in fields or stagnant ponds to ferment for a couple of weeks. 2) Chemical retting utilizes a solution of alkali or oxalic acid in which the stalks are soaked, pressurized, and boiled. This method is relatively quick and easy to monitor, although some believe it may adversely affect the fiber’s color and strength. 3) Mechanized retting, also known as vat or water retting, entails soaking the stems in warm water-filled vats, expediting the rotting process, and then passing the fibers through rollers to remove unwanted bark and gum.
  3. Drying, breaking, and scutching: Once the stalks have been rinsed and dried, the woody components are removed, and the majority of fibers are separated. This can be achieved by crushing the plants between rollers, a process known as scutching. Alternatively, the plants can be pulled through beds of nails, a technique called hackling, to accomplish the same goal.
  4. Combing and straightening: In preparation for spinning, the fibers undergo combing to eliminate short and irregular fibers, thereby separating them based on quality.
  5. Cottonizing: Occasionally, the process of cottonizing may be employed, which involves cutting bast fibers to a length similar to that of cotton. This enables the fibers to be processed using cotton equipment.
  6. Spinning: Multiple long linen fibers are combined and twisted together to create yarn, which is then wound onto bobbins or spools, ready for weaving into fabric. Optimal spinning of high-quality linen requires a warm and humid environment and often involves passing the fibers through a hot water bath (wet spinning).
  7. You can watch this video about how flax is transformed into linen fabric.


Flax linen signifies the fabric woven from flax yarns, distinguished by its thick and robust nature—surpassing cotton in strength by up to threefold. This exceptional attribute grants flax linen remarkable longevity, capable of enduring for years, even decades. At PHALAR, all our products are meticulously crafted from high-quality linen, ensuring a sustainable and ethically sourced flax product of utmost excellence.


What is the difference between French linen and flax linen?

The flax plant is cultivated in various regions worldwide, but the most exceptional flax grows within the renowned Western Europe flax belt, spanning across Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Hence, the primary distinction between Belgian and French linen lies in the country of origin for the flax.

What is the difference between cotton linen and flax linen?

Compared to cotton, flax fibers are significantly stronger, resulting in fabric that can easily endure a decade or more of use. Instead of experiencing pilling and thinning, flax fabric tends to become softer and more opulent with each wash and wear.

What are the three main types of linen?

Among the assortment of linen fabrics available for clothing and home use, four prominent varieties stand out, each with its unique characteristics and advantages:

Damask linen

Closely-woven linen

Loose weave linen

Plain weave linen”

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