Learn why linen is the fabric of my choice and why I love wearing linen clothing and using linen fabric in our home for its durability.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that I have a few obsessions.
One of them is shopping at Ikea.
I have another one: linen fabric.
Let me explain!
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Linen in history
The first known use of linen fabric dates back 36000 years! We also know that ancient Egyptians used linen for mummification.
Due to its durability, linen was the fabric of choice for clothing from antiquity to the European middle ages. It reached its highest point in popularity in pre-industrial Europe before it was slowly replaced by cotton.
Around the 1980s was the low point for linen, after which it started becoming more and more popular again for mostly ecological reasons.
These days, it’s fairly easy to find linen fabric by the yard, linen clothes, and home decor fabrics both in stores and online!
At least I have pictures in my mind of peasants wearing rough linen clothing: linen is durable and doesn’t stain easily.
Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. Yes, that is the same plant that gives us flax seeds which are full of health-giving properties!
Flax fiber is soft, lustrous, and flexible. These qualities make it perfect for clothing. With varying grades of fibers, it can be made into rope and twine, fabric, banknotes, and even tea bags.
Here are some reasons why using linen fabrics is an ecological choice:
Linen grows naturally and doesn’t need additional water. Also, it’s relatively pest-resistant.
According to the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp, flax respects the environment and preserves the land
While the whole flax plant can be used, the fibers (clothing) are completely biodegradable and recyclable.
Linen fabrics last much longer than cotton.
The more you wear and wash your linen, the softer it gets!
Lastly, linen fabrics insulate, meaning they are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Why I love linen
In my mind, linen is (next to wool; stay tuned for a post about that!) such a beautiful fabric. It’s strong and surprisingly easy to care for. I don’t need to wash my linen clothing quite as often as cotton or other fabrics.
At least today, it looks casual but not underdressed.
It wears really well. Again, keep wearing and washing it to soften it!
Contrary to cotton, its production involves much fewer toxic chemicals. I love the cool feel of linen in the summer. The more you wear linen, the softer it gets!
And nothing says “farmhouse” more than linen clothing!
Therefore, I have a collection of linen shirts and pants. I love linen as table cloths and napkins. We have linen curtains in our home. I wear my cross-over linen apron literally all the time (find the free pattern here).
My linen bag is the perfect choice to store my homemade bread as it has anti-bacterial properties.
Especially in the summer, we love sleeping in our linen bedding for its cooling properties.
As I am writing this, I am already thinking about how I can use linen more in our home. Stay tuned for a sleeveless shirt tutorial!! There’s my obsession …
How to care for linen
Naturally, linen is more stain-resistant than let’s say cotton. Just like wool, I often just like to leave my linen fabrics hanging in the fresh air. But at some point, you will want to wash your linen fabrics.
Linen loves water so I recommend using only a few pieces to a lot of water. I choose the cold or warm temperature setting of my washing machine. If you do wash linen by hand, don’t wring it which will only stretch the fibers and cause the fabric to crease.
Be sure to use a mild detergent (or check out my homemade laundry detergent).
Resist the urge to use bleach on linen since it will turn it into a beige color (trust me … I have made that mistake). Instead, use some dish soap on stains. You might have to apply and wash it a few times but typically stains do come out that way.
I actually prefer hang-drying my laundry for a number of reasons. Just take your piece of fabric or clothing, give it a good shake, and hang it. Shirts dry best on hangers.
You can also dry your linen pieces in the dryer. However, if you do that only dry them to damp. Then take them out of the dryer and pull them into shape.
I like the casual look and gentle creasing of linen fabric. You can also use a hot iron on damp fabric, allowing the steam to smooth out any wrinkles more than actual pressure.
Where to find linen?
There are many sources for linen. If you’re looking for just the fabric by the yard, check places such as www.fabric.com, www.joann.com, and other online retailers. Etsy can be another good source.
As for finding clothing, a simple Google search will bring up sources. Again, Etsy is a good starting point. I have found some great linen shirts and pants at www.gap.com and www.uniqlo.com (on sale). If you like to shop at www.amazon.com it’s worth looking there. This article lists more sources, most of which are a bit pricey, though.
If you’re looking for home fabrics, Ikea often has great deals. In fact, I made my linen apron from a linen-blend table cloth. Ikea’s linen tea towels are great as is or can be turned into bags for storing homemade bread. These can also be turned into pillowcases or you can buy them ready-made.
It’s definitely worth looking around. If you’re like me you’ll notice that the more you look the more linen you’ll find!