Linen is a flax-based textile that is predominantly used for homeware applications. It is made from fibers derived from the stems of the flax plant. While evidence is scant from prehistoric times, it appears that Neolithic peoples in Europe were making textiles from linen as long as 36,000 years ago.
Therefore, linen is one of the longest-produced textiles, and its history may stretch back even farther than the most ancient evidence that modern archaeology has uncovered. As with most textiles, China is currently the largest producer of linen.
However, the production of high-quality linen products remains an important part of the cultures of many European countries, and Ireland, Italy, and Belgium remain significant linen producers. Linen used predominantly for homewares is also produced in the United States in relatively large quantities.
While all types of linen fabric are derived from processed and spun flax fiber, there are four main variations in weaving techniques that result in different types of linen fabric:
1. Damask linen:This type of linen is ornate and delicate, and it is formed on a jacquard loom to produce an end result that’s similar to embroidery. Damask linen isn’t designed for everyday use, and it’s more common in decorative items.
2 Plain-woven linen:Plain-woven linen is commonly used to make dish towels, cotton towels, and hand towels. Since it is relatively loosely-woven, it is highly durable, but it doesn’t suffer from a significant decrease in durability.
3. Loosely-woven linen:Loosely-woven linen is highly absorbent, but it is the least-durable type of linen fabric. It is commonly used to make reusable diapers and sanitary napkins.
4. Sheeting linen:Linen apparel is usually made from sheeting linen due to its untextured, soft surface and close weave. This type of linen usually has a higher thread count than other forms of linen fabric.