The Making of Linen: From Flax to Fabric

At Barn & Willow, we think that it's important to know where your draperies and roman shades come from. We believe in sustainable practices, and source only the highest quality Belgian linens, certified by the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp, an organization that regulates all stages of the hemp and linen production process in Western Europe.

Flax plants grown in Belgium

From the flax plant to the finished textile, we'll walk you through how our Belgian linen textiles are made. But first, a bit of background info! Known for its versatility, the flax plant has been cultivated for tens of thousands of years for its fiber and seeds. Every part of the plant can be used to make something - like linseed oil from its seeds and the linen we love. Likewise, the common flax bears a scientific name of Linum usitatissimum, which translates to “the most useful flax.” 

Flax fields in Belgium

For us at Barn & Willow, the most important part of the flax plant is its stem. Within the stem are fine fibers that run to the plant's roots. To keep these fibers intact, the flax plant must be completely uprooted and then dried. Once dried, the flax is exposed to moisture in a process called "retting" to separate the flax fibers from the stem. The fibers are then separated by length - the shorter ones into yarn, and the longer into premium linen. 

Dried flax, ready for retting.

From there, the fibers are spun into yarns, which will be the material from which the linen is woven. Each yard of woven fabric is rigorously examined for quality. When the linen is determined to be up to standard, it is then finished through either bleaching or dying.

Libeco Lagae Belgian linen mill factory

Barn & Willow's linens are all made from pure Belgian flax - grown and processed in Belgium.

Custom Belgian Linen window coverings

Our Belgian Textured Linen, Belgian Sheer Linen, and Washed Belgian Linen collections are all woven and finished in Belgium, and carry the Masters of Linen certification. The Masters of Linen certification indicates that the linens are 100% European made, and pass annual audits to ensure that they must meet quality, sustainability, and other standards.

Masters of Linen and European Flax Certification

The Belgian Flax Linen collection is finished in India, and carries the European Flax designation. All Masters of Linen fabrics also carry the European Flax certification, which means that the product is composed of European flax fiber and it meets environmental, traceability, and composition critera.

Custom Belgian Flax Linen curtain in Mist Gray

After the finished linen fabric is produced, they're shipped to our factory, ready to be made into your draperies or roman shades.

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