Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fabric of the week: Linen

It’s high summer, shouldn’t we best talk about linen? 

I am fascinated by this fabric, in part because in my yard I have small blue flowers nodding on their delicate stalks—flax. It is hard for me to imagine the process by which sturdy linen is made from the flax plant, and how it ever got created in the first place. Do click on the flax link below for more information on this very useful plant.

A field of flax in bloom

Both a fabric and a fiber, linen is one of the oldest of textiles, with examples dating from many thousands of years B.C.E. 
The fabric is made of the fibers of the flax plant, and because of the natural variations in the fibers, characteristic slubs occur in both warp and weft. It is of a balanced plain weave. Linen is coveted for its absorbency, strength even when wet, being lint-free and quick-drying. It is famous for its use in making garments worn in hot climates. The name linen is derived from linon, the Greek word for the flax plant, and linum, the Roman word. 
Bedding and table coverings can be called linens, no matter what their fabric. 
Uses: Suits, slacks, skirts, dresses, tablecloths, dish towels 
See also:
Butcher cloth 
Butcher linen 
Handkerchief linen

Two examples of linen
©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain,  photos by Hoyt Carter

Early 60s Jane Derby linen dress in my web store

For more great examples of vintage clothing made of linen, visit the Vintage Fashion Guild parade this week: Linen Time of Year.


Anonymous said...

I'd probably buy linen if it didn't wrinkle so much. Actually, you made it sound so good, I might look for linen clothes anyway!

denisebrain said...

I believe linen has a certain charm even when wrinkled. I love a white linen jacket and pants in the summer.