How Our Linen Is Made

Linen hasn’t only graced itself on the Mediterranean shores and luxurious beds, it’s one of the earliest cultivated plants and linen fabric has been used for thousands of years.

The flax plant is believed to have been first cultivated around 4,000-5,000 BC in North Africa and the fertile crescent. It was a rare fabric that was only worn by the wealthiest in society.

Linen was incredibly expensive for two key reasons- firstly, the flax plant uses a lot of nutrients from the soil, which meant fields would have to lie fallow for several years to recover after a harvest.

Secondly, the linen production process would take up to 150 days work to produce fabric. The expensive exercise meant only wealthy noblemen and priests were able to afford the fabric.

Nowadays modern farming and production has improved the linen production process, however, the finest linens still require a lot of time and manual labour, which is exactly what Linen The Dream use.

Where does linen come from?

Linen is made from the fibers within the flax plant. Flax grows to approximately 3-4 feet tall with glossy bluish-green leaves and a pretty pale blue flower. It’s cultivated around the world for its fiber or its seeds, which are used to make flaxseed oil.

Flax plants are designed to be cultivated when they’re long and slender. The longer the stem, the longer the fiber will be. The plants grow best in cool, damp climates with rich soil. This is the exact reason European linen is the most desirable, as it has the near-perfect growing conditions.

Step 1: Harvest

Flax grows for typically 100 days and is an annual crop, where you’ll only grow one crop per year. When it comes time to harvest, flax is pulled from the ground, roots-and-all to maximise the length of the fiber. There are machines that can cut flax but the highest quality (which Linen The Dream uses) is manually pulled from the ground.

Step 2: Retting

The next process in linen production is known as retting, which pretty much means “rotting”. There’s science behind this but basically, it uses moisture and microorganisms to separate the fibers of the flax plant from the stem.

In order to do this, we use water retting, where the flax is submerged in a stream, allowing the microorganisms to do their work. The flax is pulled out of the water after the retting procedure is deemed completed.

Step 3: Scutching

After retting, the flax is dried and then stored as it undergoes a curing process. What’s left is the fibers with bits of woody stem still attached. The “scutching” process involves a wooden knife, which is scraped along the fibers as they hang vertically. The process is repeated until the woody stems have been removed.

Step 4: Heckle

The next step is to pull the fibers through a nail comb known as a heckle. The process splits and polishes the fibers and helps to remove the lower quality, small fibers.

Step 5: Spinning

The fiber is now ready to be spun. Spinning can be done by hand or machine and involves twisting together the fibers, the flax is always spun very finely to create a high quality thread.

Step 6: Weaving

The final stage is the traditional method of weaving, where linen threads are woven together horizontally and vertically on a loom.

There are multiple steps to producing the Linen The Dream fabric. In order to get the finest quality linen, these processes are completed manually which requires a lot of time and labour. The final result is worth it, with a luxurious fabric that has a softness and airiness to it like no other.