Linen is ELLE Decoration’s top choice for bed dressing: durable, eco-friendly, and it gets better and better the longer you use it, what’s not to love!
What is linen? All linen consists exclusively of flax plant fibres, spun into thread. In half linen, the warp is composed of cotton yarn and the weft of flax thread. Cooler climates are ideal to cultivate flax, so the best linen tends to come from countries such as France and Belgium. Linen yarn often has ‘slubs’, or small knots that occur randomly along its length, these are no longer considered to be defects, but add to the character of the fabric.
What are the advantages of natural linen? While it has a much lower thread count than cotton due to the bulkier yarns, linen is several times the strength of cotton. It is good at absorbing moisture, it’s antibacterial and anti-static Plus, says Theresa Tollemache, owner of Volga Linen ‘The great thing about linen is that it’s breathable, and therefore cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Not only that, but the more it is used and washed, the softer it becomes.’ And, as linen isn’t chemically treated, it is naturally hypoallergenic. In short, it’s durable, recyclable and biodegradable: a great eco choice.
Does linen have a thread count like cotton? No. Flax fibre is much thicker than cotton, so rather than a thread count, it’s measured by weight – the higher the weight, the thicker the yarn and the heavier the weave. From 160 gsm (grams per square metre) to 180 gsm is a good weight for bedlinen; anything above that is more suitable for table linen and upholstery.
Where does the best linen come from? ‘European linen is renowned for its superior quality,’ says Inga Lukauskiene, founder of Linen Me (linenme.com). ‘Lithuania, Belgium and Normandy in France are considered the best climates for flax production. Asian producers often mix flax with synthetic materials or ramie (a less durable fibre made from nettles), which decreases the linen’s quality and overall appearance.’
How to care for it? “Always wash linen as gently as possible. For unbleached and coloured linen, the washing temperature should not exceed 60 degrees Celsius, and always avoid tumble drying” says Soile Makkonen, the Finnish founder of Kent-based natural fabric brand Ada & Ina. For linen curtains and blinds, dry cleaning is recommended to avoid shrinkage. Ironing is not necessary, as the tendency to wrinkle is part of linen’s appeal. Store it in a dry place where air can circulate.
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