Is All Linen Made From Flax and Other Facts About the Fabric

Is All Linen Made From Flax and Other Facts About the Fabric

Linen is an excellent choice for bedding items, such as duvets, pillows, and sheets. It's a top choice by many hotels and rental homes because it's very durable and has hypoallergenic qualities.

Today, we'll answer one of the most commonly asked questions, "Is all linen made from flax?" We’ll also dig deeper into how linen is made and how you can find good-quality linen sheets for your bedroom.

Is All Linen Made From Flax?

Authentic linen is supposedly made from the fibres of the flax plant: the very same plant that provides us nutrient-dense flax seed and flaxseed oil.

However, there’s also such a thing called “machine-made” linen, which is the synthetic version of natural flax fibres. Some linens also contain other fibres in addition to flax. We’ll talk more about it later.

What Is a Flax Plant?

Flax is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. People have been growing flax since the 18th century. The biggest producers of the flax plant are Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, and China.

Flax is a fast-growing plant. Typically, it can be harvested after 100 days from planting. The flax fibres used to make linen fabric get extracted from dried flax stalks.

Before they are dried, the stems undergo the retting process, in which they are placed in cold water. This process facilitates the separation of the fibre from the stem.

Once dried and removed from the woody stalks, flax fibres go through several other processes before being completely woven into a durable, soft, and luxurious natural fabric.

Weaving 100% linen is a laborious process. While the flax plant isn’t difficult to grow, it goes through a complex production process that is time-consuming and expensive.

What Makes Linen Stand Out?

Flax remains the only source of linen for varying reasons. Below are some of the most notable benefits of linen.


Flax linen is a sustainable fabric because the entire plant can be woven into a fibre. That means there's almost zero waste produced from the linen yarn spinning and weaving process.

What's more, some premium linens are made of organic flax. They don't get treated with intensive dyes or chemicals, which means no water pollution. In this regard, if you're in search of high-quality linen that utilizes low-impact dyes, look for natural dye colours like ivory, ecru, tan, grey, and white linen. You should also avoid linens that use chemical retting if you're after eco-friendliness.

Strength and Durability

Flax is one of the oldest linen fibres, and for a good reason. Like other plant fibres, flax is a cellulose polymer.

However, its fibres have a more crystalline structure, so the resulting fabric is stronger, crispier, and stiffer. That means you can toss your linen in your washing machine using a gentle cycle, and it won't affect its quality.


Flax fibres benefit from high air permeability. They are also an efficient conductor of heat. Therefore, you'd feel cool during hot weather and warm on colder days.

In addition to being breathable, flax fibres are highly absorbent. Since the fibres are hollow, they absorb as much as 20 percent of their weight moisture before they start feeling wet.

Are All Linen the Same?

Premium linen textiles are made of 100% pure durable fibres from flax. Unfortunately, there are plenty of products out on the market made of synthetic fibres like polyesters, claiming to be "linen".

At first glance, pure linen and non-organic linen can look and feel the same, but they are not. How can you tell that you're buying 100% flax linen? Here are some important features that you should look for.

Natural Creases Throughout the Fabric

Flax linen fibres don't have high elasticity and, therefore, don't spring back into shape. Instead, it retains its folded shape and any natural creases.

Soft Texture

Real flax linen becomes softer and softer every single wash. Nevertheless, the delicate fibre is sturdy.

As we mentioned earlier, the actual fibres of flax are durable. That said, flax linen has a long shelf life. It won't easily wear out, unlike synthetic linens.


When you buy quality flax linen sheets, you might notice tiny globules of imperfections. They are called "slubs" and are a mark of true flax linen.

If you run your hand over the fabric, you'll feel these barely perceptible little bumps. Machine-made linen from synthetic fibres won't have any slubs at all.


An easy way to tell if you're buying machine-made or synthetic linen is to sprinkle it with water. With its high natural moisture-wicking properties, flax linen will quickly absorb the water. Meanwhile, synthetic linen will not absorb much of the liquid.

Linen Variations

Linen clothing and bedding can also be made by combining flax and other durable fabric, such as cotton and silk.

Linen and Cotton Blend

Linen made of 50% cotton fibres and 50% flax fibres result in a fabric that's less likely to crease. They make a popular material for linen garments like jackets, skirts, dish towels, and aprons.

Cotton-linen fibre is sewn using pure cotton. It doesn't deform easily, so you won't have issues with rolling or wrinkled edges. Besides clothing, cotton-linen blends are also used to make bags.

Linen and Silk Mix

Linen that contains silk offer an extra sheen. This fabric is perfect for making dresses, suits, gowns, and skirts. Both linen and silk are luxurious, and together, they make an expensive fabric with an unbeatable beautiful natural luster.

Linen and Polyester

Some manufacturers incorporate polyester in linen production to reduce constant creasing and lower their costs. However, they aren’t as luxurious as linens made of pure flax fibres. You may need to use a fabric softener each time you wash your sheets since polyester is quite firm to the touch.

Should You Buy Pure Linen Bedding?

Sleeping on 100% linen is an experience you can't trade for anything else. It's one of those things that you must try to get a luxurious sleep experience.

Still, people tend to shy away from buying pure bed linen and quilt covers for two main reasons. First, they are costly. Second, they wrinkle a lot.

Nonetheless, the advantages of linen greatly outweigh its disadvantages. Aside from the luxury feel and comfort, extreme softness, and durability, pure linen is a brilliant environmental choice.

A Better Understanding of the Linen Fabric

At this point, you know the answer to the question “Is all linen made from flax?” very well. To sum up, linens are traditionally made of flax plant fibres. The cultivation of flax is easy, but the process of turning them into linen is not.

That's why some manufacturers combine flax with other natural fibres and even synthetic fibre to cut costs and labour.

However, if you have the budget, pure linen is always the best choice. With its quality, durability, eco-friendliness, and incredibly comfortable feel, you will be rewarded with a deep and luxurious slumber each night.