The Anatomy of Linen Fabric

Since the launch of our website I have had the chance to speak directly with a lot of our customers. One of the things I have heard consistently is how much they admire Linen and specifically Belgian Linen.

However I realized that before I started Barn & Willow I really did not know what is linen made of and why is it so exclusive and rich compared to some of the other fabrics (Silk, cotton, etc). It is only after some research and talking to several linen mills that I could really understand why Linen is what it is - the most luxurious fabric.

Since we and lot of our customers sincerely believe in Linen I thought I will share with you what I call the "Anatomy of Linen" - it always helps to know why you invested in Linen drapes and why they are so rich.

As some of us know Linen is made of Flax, which is the world's only natural fiber. Large quantities of Flax harvesting and cultivation is done in Western Europe and because of optimal soil and climatic conditions the best flax plants are grown between Cannes, in France and Amsterdam in Holland. I was surprised to know that about 200,000 tons of Flax is cultivated every year on 200,000 acres of land in Europe.

Flax Plants are short (typically about 4 feet) and blooms only 1 day which is when it is harvested (month of July). If you have traveled to France or Holland, especially by road, I am sure you have seen acres of flax cultivation lands.




Once the flax plant blooms it is uprooted (flax plant is never cut because the plant fiber is not only in it's stems but also in it's roots).

The plant goes through a series of process thereafter: here is a sneak-peek of that

  • Retting and Drying - this is to expose the plant to sunlight and moisture in order to breakdown the reptins that bind the fiber and the stem. This takes several weeks and it is during this process that the plant gets it's natural color.

When it comes to Linen the natural shades are always the most popular ones and in fact our Oatmeal, Flax and Oyster drapes are the top selling ones so far. People want to preserve the natural color and the beauty of the fiber. 

  • Scutching and Hackling: Once the retting and drying process is done the plant is taken through this process where the flax fibers are separated from the stems. It is then combed (just like women comb their hair) several times to transform the fabric into a very fine and silky fiber.
  • It then goes into spinning in the flax yarns where it is taken through various yarns of thickness and weights. 
  • This is then converted into bobbin yarns and handed over to certified linen mills who then transform it into finished Linen fabric through warp and weft weaving process.

One of the things to note here is that the flax is converted into linen in the most natural ways. In fact I am told that Flax plants do not need much of pesticides to grow.


These natural properties of Flax and the process it goes through make Linen crisp, clean and comfortable. Soft, yet strong and durable. Flax is colorfast and it launders beautifully and it is non-allergenic as well.

Linen is not only a favorite among customers but designers love to work with linen because of the creativity the fabric offers. Linen in living room, dining room and bedroom will always be timeless. I truly believe that no other fabric can offer this unique blend of luxury, comfort and elegance. .




 Some of the pictures are taken from (Our Linen Mill Partners) and from the web.