Why is linen more expensive than cotton?
Linen Plant: the capricious, the fibrous
Growing flax plant is not easy. It feels best only at moderate temperatures, in lots of day light and with adequate water supply.
Unlike cotton, linen fibre is much harder to get as it is hidden within the stalks. Linen fibers and their envelopes are glued together by pectic substance, so it is pretty hard to separate the fiber without damaging it.
Flax scutching is a difficult process and is twice as expensive as the one of cotton.
Unfortunately, because of these factors linen is considered a culture of low profit and there are not too many farmers interested in cultivating it.
There are about 100 types of linen family plants in nature. But the fabric is made only of long-stalked flax. Proven technology of making fabrics from such long fibers has not changed much over the course of decades passed. The only difference is that the processes have become mechanized and automated.
Linen canvas fabric: the stages of creating
Unlike linen cultivation, the process of making fibers and fabrics is not as hard as labor-consuming.
Here are its main stages:
1. Plants are picked and then processed into straw using machines
2. Then straws are spread onto the field for 2 to 3 weeks to have them soaked in dew to make it easier to separate the fiber parts (stalks)
3. Then dew-soaked straw is gathered, dried, broken, and pulled; during these processes stalks and inner firm parts are separated
4. Then stalks are formed into a band; after that a thin twisted thread is made (which is called rove)
5. Pure linen fabric is then weaved from this rove
6. Finished canvases are bleached and dyed in different colors or left as they are
7. It should also be said, that long-stalked flax is famous for being a zero-waste material: textiles of high quality are the result; the remaining fiber goes to making coarse linen fabric (potato sacks are often made of it); the rest is used in construction and furniture manufacture.
Today, almost all types of linen fabric are made by machines.
But there are people who appreciate ethnic style homespun handmade linen from craftsmen still.