Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. It is one of the oldest textiles in the world, going back thousands of years. There are many references to linen throughout the Bible. It is very popular in aprons, bags, towels, napkins, bed linens, tablecloths, and apparel.

It is a popular fiber for summer apparel and bedding due to its porous, hollow fiber characteristics that make it air permeable (breathable) and its phenomenal wicking and quick-drying ability. Linen resists being eaten by the moths that are abundant this time of year. Many believe it has healing properties. At the very least, it is soothing to skin allergies.


Linen has distinctive ‘slubs’, the distinctive irregular lumps which occur regularly along its length. This is seen as part of its charm, though the highest quality linen has largely done away with this feature. Linen wrinkles easily, which is often seen as part of its charm. It softens with wear. If you prefer to maintain stiffness, it’s recommended to dry clean only.

Countries of Origin

Flax is grown in many parts of the world, but the top quality fiber is grown in Western Europe and Ukraine. Bulk linen production has moved to Eastern Europe and China in recent years. The top exporter of linen is China at $732.3 million in exports. Italy is second with $173.0 million, followed by Belgium with $68.9 million.

Fiber Blends

Linen, when blended with other fibers takes on some of the positive characteristics of the joining fiber. This creates mutual benefit. For instance, when blended with cotton, the resulting fabric is softer and less prone to wrinkling. Another common fiber blend with linen is rayon. Rayon adds drape, softness, and sheen. When blended with polyester, linen wrinkles less and has improved color-fastness. This combination also serves to soften linen but in a synthetic way.