Authored by A. Kaminsky and an also be found here: http://is.gd/dKCu8g
Linen is one of the oldest woven fabrics in human history. Made of fibers from the flax plant, this material was once considered suitable only for royalty. Purple linen was the material for a king’s robe. The Bible mentions coverings of this material used in the Tabernacle and the Temple, and references to “fine linen” are found throughout.
This is an expensive fabric to manufacture. Flax is a temperamental plant to grow, and the quality of the finished product depends largely on the quality of the plant itself. The flax fibers are found in the stalk, which is picked by hand to preserve the fibers’ integrity — another reason flax is expensive. Separating the fibers is also a long and tedious process if performed correctly. Some flax is processed on cotton machines, but this results in a lower-quality finished fiber. Most fabric flax is grown today in Western Europe, and the finer quality linen comes from there, as well.
Good quality linen is soft and largely free of the “slubs” or small knots often associated with it. Slubs are only found in lesser quality fabric. This cloth is moth-resistant and repels dirt, as well. It can absorb and lose water quickly, and it can also help “wick” perspiration away from the skin — although sweat can damage the fabric. This quality has made it popular in hot climates, such as that of Egypt, for thousands of years.
Modern garments made from linen are expensive because of the expensive manufacturing and weaving process. However, the fabric readily accepts dye, so it can be manufactured in many colors. The material is lightweight, which makes it suitable for spring and summer wear. It looks crisp, cool and neat, even on the warmest days. Most linen can also be washed in a home machine.
This fabric is not perfect, however. One of its worst traits is the tendency to wrinkle. Sit down inlinen slacks, and horizontal creases appear across the front.
Not only is it wrinkle-prone, but ironing linen is a great deal of work. The iron must be very hot and should have a steam setting. Otherwise, the person doing the ironing will need to spritz the fabric with water to create steam. It can also be ironed damp from the washer. A light spray starch can also be used, and the material must be ironed on the wrong side of the fabric, or using a pressing cloth, to prevent shiny spots.
Although durable, linen garments should be hung in a closet, rather than folded away in a drawer. The fibers can break if folded in the same place too often. These garments also tend to soften with wear and washing, so any roughness in the fabric will usually smooth out in time.
Slacks, dresses, suits, sport coats and blazers are all common clothing items made from this fabric. However, linen was used for sheets many years ago and is still used for items such as tablecloths. It even has industrial uses for luggage and upholstery. With its versatility and beauty, it will certainly continue to be a widely-used fabric for the foreseeable future.
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