The origins of linen fabric

Looking back in history: linen fabric for clothing and more

The first mentions of linen fabric and its use date back to several thousand years ago. Some historians think this fabric is 5000 years old. It first appeared in Ancient Egypt. Linen material was expensive, so only rich families, the pharaoh’s family, and his court could afford linen clothes and bedding. Also, the mummies were wrapped in linen fabric. Slavic communities knew about linen (or flaxen) fabric in about 9th century. Due to the properties of linen fibre, fabric and clothes were light and durable at the same time, making for a long-term product. Unlike other countries, here linen was not a luxury. Linen clothes were on people of various social classes. The difference was only in the thickness of the fibers, finishing, and dyeing.

Since Catherine the Great made it possible to export linen threads, most weaving mills in Europe worked with fibers grown in the Russian Empire.

Linen plant: growing conditions & habitat

Cultivated linen that is used for various industrial purposes can be of different sorts. This culture is mainly grown for seeds, fibers, and oil. It is common flax material that is used for fabric manufacture. The stems that produce the fibers can be different, and the quality of the threads depends on them. Flax is a capricious plant to cultivate. It is best cultivated in regions with a moderate climate and non-chernozem soil. This culture is very demanding as far as soil composition, mineral fertilizers contained in it and weather – excessive precipitation during maturation period can damage the whole crop. Sprouts appear in early spring at +4-5 Celsius and can endure frosts of up to -4 Celsius. It takes anywhere from 68 to 84 days from the first sprouts to appear to get to the harvesting. In Russia, this plant is cultivated in various regions, on thousands of hectares of land. But only a small part of it is dedicated to the cultivation of the sort that gives the best raw linen for fabric manufacture. That is why linen fabric is quite expensive.

Flax fiber and its processing

There is a certain period for getting the most quality linen - and the thinner the raw material the better the linen fabric. The stems must be of light-yellow color while the bolls – of green. Flax is gathered with roots and is soaked for easier fiber separation. Then it is dried and sent to the manufacture. Further processing does not differ much from the one that was used in ancient times. Flax is broken, pulled, and hackled; but now this is done not by hand by machines in modern factories.