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All you need to know

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The non-profit association Vesti la natura provides several free guides specially created to promote the use of low environmental impact materials among consumers and entrepreneurs

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What is flax?

Linen is a natural fiber extracted from the stem of the flax plant. Once woven, linen fibers are stronger, cooler against the skin and shiny than others textile fibers, but they wrinkle easily, often creating wrinkles.

The use of linen by man dates back to the year 8000 BC, i linen fabrics they are therefore among the oldest in the world. Today, after 8 thousand years, many textile products are made of linen: aprons, bags, towels, napkins, bed linen, tablecloths, curtains, chair covers and clothing for men and women.

To avoid the "wrinkled" effect typical of a fabric in 100% linen, it is often mixed with others natural fibers like cotton.

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The flax plant

La flax plant it grows in two distinct forms: flax for textile fibers and flax for the food sector (oil, seeds, etc).

field cultivated with flax plants

One of the sore points is that there isn't a method of flax harvest that maximizes both the quality of the textile fiber and the yield of fibers and seeds.

per ottenere quality linen fibers usable in fashion, it is in fact necessary to harvest before the plant is fully mature, which results in lower quality seeds and oil.

On the contrary, if the harvest is carried out after ripening, the best oil is obtained, but the quality of the textile fiber deteriorates.

This factor determines the cultivation of two types of flax plants. The variety suitable for the flax seed it is grown mainly to extract the highly nutritious oil of the seed. This plant variety is shorter and produces many secondary branches, which increases the seed yield.

The variety of flax plant which tends to grow taller and with fewer branches is grown to obtain the linen textile fibers, which are extracted from the long stem of the plant. The flax fibers are first spun and then woven. The higher the flax plant, the longer the textile fibers extracted, the greater the yield per hectare of land.

Cultivation of flax

Il linen grows in different climates, but blooms best in cool, humid environments.

Can't tolerate extreme heat, hence the program flax cultivation varies from country to country based on climatic conditions. In warmer countries the linen it is sown in winter, so that the harvest can be done before the heat of spring.

Since it requires a lot of organic components, the linen it grows best in deep, alluvial soils such as the Nile valley in Egypt.

Flax harvest

La flax harvest occurs when the stem begins to turn yellow and the seeds turn brown. However, sometimes the flax plant is extracted before the seeds germinate. This produces exceptionally fine fibers and more suitable for making beautiful fabrics, but can leave the farmer seedless for later planting.

Rather than cutting at the base of the stem, the stems of the flax plant they are often extracted from the earth with their roots intact. This process is more complex, but maximizes the quality and yield of the fiber for several reasons:

First, the precious flax fibers run along the entire length of the stem to the roots, then lifting the plant from the root increases the length of the fiber. linen produced. Second, this practice prevents the plant sap from escaping from the cut stem, a natural reaction that tends to dry out the fibers and results in a lower quality fiber.

Although agriculture has made great strides in mechanizing operations, the harvesting of linen mechanics is unable to preserve the roots of the plant. For this reason, despite the extremely laborious process of manual harvesting, the finest linen fabrics derive from hand-extracted flax plants.

La flax fiber hand-picked is finer, more elastic and more valuable than the flax fiber extracted with mechanical harvesting, which also increases its cost.

Best linen in the world

The best linen in the world it derives from maceration in Belgium, in the Lys river. Just think that the flax collected in France, Holland, and often also in South America, is sent to Belgium to be macerated in the magical waters of the Lys river.

Il finest linen it must be macerated in slow-moving natural water sources, such as streams and rivers.

Irish linen is the most widespread and also highly prized, although most of the linen used for its production is grown elsewhere and then imported to Ireland for processing. The Irish climate is favorable for the processing of linen and the slow Irish bleaching method improves the quality of the fibers.

Flax is grown most intensively in Russia and China, although these fibers of linen they tend to be of lower quality than European ones.

Smaller flax production centers also arise in Egypt, northern Italy, and parts of Canada and the northern United States.

Linen textile fiber

Il flax is a natural fiber forming part of the raffia fibers. The raffia fibers are harvested from the phloem or from the inner bark of the plant. Fabrics made with raffia fibers are generally very resistant and long-lived. Other fabrics made with raffia fibers are the hemp and ramie (ramia).

Woman works linen on the loom

Il linen fabric it is considered chic and highly prized, more so than other raffia fiber fabrics such as hemp and ramie.

This status quo of linen fabric is due to some peculiar characteristics of the flax fiber: it has a high resistance to traction and elongation, is brighter and more silky than other natural textile fibers, and has a high hygroscopic value, that is, it tends to absorb and release moisture very well.

Le flax fibers they are in fact empty, therefore they transport air and humidity in a natural way. During the colder months, linen blankets and sheets placed in layers are great for keeping warm under the covers.

Linen reacts to the seasons, but to get the best out of the fabric it is necessary to wear it in direct contact with the skin.

The linen fabric it also protects from the sun's rays, and has excellent resistance to degradation due to heat. Its natural color varies from yellowish to gray, but it can be dyed in different colors, although it is not a fabric that lends itself to dyeing as well as cotton.

Characteristics of flax

Fabric Quality:

The qualities of the fabric may vary based on its blending with other fibers. Example: with Elastan or Lycra you gain in elasticity.

  Does not shrink / discolor
  Quick drying

Ecological Characteristics:

The ecological characteristics of the fabric may vary based on textile certifications or blending with other fabrics.

  Natural - Artificial - Synthetic  
  No GMOs
  Natural raw material
  Recycled raw material
  Mechanical extraction
  Chemical extraction
  Energy saving
  Sustainability class  

Textile Certifications:

The certifications that can be assigned to the fabric, but which vary according to different factors: manufacturing company, fashion brand, blending.

Global Organic Textile Standard
Organic Content Standard
Global Recycle Standard
Second Life Plastic
Animal Free
Fair Wear Foundation

This card can only be found on www.vestilanatura.it

Linen clothing

The main advantage of wearing linen clothing is obtained above all in the hot season, thanks to the amazing feeling of freshness provided by the linen fabric: linen clothing allows a greater flow of air on the body, being very breathable and hygroscopic.

Colored linen fabrics

When it captures moisture, the linen fabric swells and then dries quickly, expelling moisture to the outside, thus returning to be fresh and pleasant to the touch, giving a nice feeling when wearing a linen dress, a blouse, or other linen clothing in direct contact with the skin.

Thanks to its molecular structure the linen fabric it can absorb up to 1/5 of its weight before giving in to the sensation of "humidity" derived from sweat: the water evaporates very quickly from the fabric and the result is to wear a garment that acts as an excellent cooling system.

Linen clothing for men and women they look their best when worn in summer, but even in winter linen does its job keeping us warm.

Il linen it is a fairly stiff fabric and therefore not suitable for creating tight-fitting clothes.

Buy Linen products

A showcase where you can find Sustainable, ethical and cruelty free fashion brands guaranteed by the supervision of our association:

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Linen linen

La linen linen it is a natural insulator. It is appreciated for its ability to keep cool in the summer months and to trap heat in the colder months thanks to the natural properties of the linen fiber.

Linen sheets

Le linen sheets Europeans are the absolute best with the French famous for producing the most delicate linen fabrics. Known for being a stress reliever and ensuring better sleep, flax is rumored to have healing properties and even reduce arthritis and dermatitis conditions, as well as being an excellent natural remedy for mites.

Linen or cotton

There are many differences between cotton and linen. Linen is known to be the strongest natural fiber in the world - it is so strong that it is even blended into paper to increase its strength. The thickness of the flax fibers contribute to its strength, which also affects its longevity over time: linen lasts much longer than cotton.

The strength of the cotton is obtained instead through the spinning of several cotton fibers and the subsequent weaving of the fabric thread.

Il linen it is less elastic than cotton, but can get it through blending with synthetic fibers elastic like elastane, lycra and spandex. Thanks to this blending it gains in elegance and softens, and despite having a stiffer consistency than cotton, it creates a silky effect and is brighter than cotton.

Both cotton and linen they are often associated with fabrics that tend to create wrinkles and wrinkles (linen more than cotton). However, linen fibers contain a natural resin called lignan: at first the linen fibers are stiff and wrinkle easily, but wrinkles become softer through daily use and subsequent washing (hemp also improves with use and washes).

Linen or silk

Silk production causes the death of millions of silkworms every year: iLinen is a cruelty free fabric, while silk does not.

At the level of characteristics we can consider them similar: silk is much more delicate, elegant, and preferable in summer. Linen is best in winter. It is more wear resistant than silk, so it lasts longer and is easier to keep intact.

Linen and allergies

The ancient Egyptians used the linen for its natural ability to repel microorganisms. Linen is known to be tolerable for allergy sufferers and to soothe the skin in case of dermatitis. Its natural ability to prevent bacterial growth is useful for underwear, bed sheets and towels, textiles that normally tend to be a perfect home for bacteria to grow.

Maintenance of ecological fabrics

How is linen washed?

The environmental impact of laundry detergents and household cleaners is devastating to our planet, so we highly recommend using ecological detergents.

Linen is a natural fiber, used to produce quality yarns, highly breathable and resistant to time and use. To date, linen for clothing is used a little less than in the past, and considered a fine yarn.

Among the qualities of linen are the very high resistance to heat and the excellent yield to dyes and other treatments, the aesthetic beauty and the high transpiring power. The biggest flaw is that it creates a lot of creases quite easily, which makes it a bit uncomfortable especially for those who have to sit several times during the day and do not have the possibility to change.

To wash linen effectively and without damaging it, it is possible to wash it both by hand and in the washing machine. When preparing to clean the linen fabric, the main problem concerns the colors and stains, which can be pre-treated separately: for example, for grease or oil stains it is possible to apply a little talcum powder, with miraculous effects.

Also in this case, it is advisable to read the label carefully and check if the linen garment should be washed separately from the others.

Machine wash

If the garments are not very dirty or stained, the program to be set will not exceed 40 degrees; even if linen resists much higher temperatures, it is not necessary to overdo it with hot water. Pouring a little bicarbonate together with the ecological detergent, preferably liquid, the results will be excellent; furthermore, to avoid deforming linen fabrics, it is advisable to exclude the spin cycle and hang the garments directly in the sun, if possible.


This precaution must also be observed in the case of hand washing, with warm / hot water, a tear of neutral detergent and bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate, among its many properties, increases the cleaning power of detergents, both by hand and in the washing machine.

Do you want to wash your clothes while minimizing water pollution?

  1. We have selected one of the most sustainable detergent and detergent brands click here to buy an ecological detergent
  2. You could use a Washing Ball to wash without using detergents click here to buy a washing ball
  3. You could use the nuovissimo Ecoegg, a nice ecological egg with which you can do about 720 washes click here to buy the ecoegg egg


Looking for more information about flax? Ask your questions using the form below.

Ask Your Question!

Our answers:

Where can I buy linen fabric?

Vesti la natura has created a table with more than 40 sustainable materials, their respective applications in the textile sector, and their suppliers (even for small quantities). To access the table we ask you to donate a small financial contribution to our association. Click here for more information.

Does organic linen exist?

The certified organic linen cotton it exists, but it is very rare and there are few fashion brands that use it. One of the reasons is the uselessness of certain controls on the production chain of this textile fiber which is already decidedly sustainable.

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