Timeless luxury down the ages: linen curtains, bed linen, table linen
I just really love the natural look and feel of linen with its soft, relaxed texture and what I can only describe as a timeless luxury;
Linen is the world’s oldest woven fabric with evidence found that it was used as clothing back in prehistoric times. Before linen, the style choice was between animal skins and fig leaves, so whoever worked out that the fibres of the flax plant could make a comfortable cloth must have been very popular indeed! and that is what linen is – the fibres of the flax (aka linseed) oilseed plant which, in a laborious harvesting process; is pulled rather than cut from the ground to ensure the longest of the fibres are obtained; fibres which are then left to soften for weeks before being processed and woven into natural linen material.
Whilst we don’t know exactly what our prehistoric ancestors used linen for, we do know that it was the material of choice for clothing around the Mediterranean countries some 8,000 years ago.
Perhaps it was the ancient Egyptians who really first saw the full potential of linen? They used the cloth in different qualities for a variety of purposes; the finest weaves were destined for the Pharaohs whilst the cheap rougher product went to clothe the common folk.
But it wasn’t only used for clothing; linen shrouds covered the mummies and linen drapes were used for privacy, much as we use curtains today. It says a lot for the durability of linen that the almost 3,000-year-old pure linen shroud covering the mummy of the Pharaoh Ramses 2 was perfectly preserved when discovered in 1881.
Once introduced into Europe, linen went on to become the most popular of available fabrics right through the Middle Ages, even holding on to the number one spot after Arabian cotton became available sometime in the 1300s, and its decline only really started with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century.
This was the age when cotton became king thanks to the huge availability of cheap cotton from the American cotton plantations and the development of seriously efficient weaving machines against which linen, with its laborious manual processes simply couldn’t compete as a mass-market product.
So after the briefest of history lessons, what of linen today?
It may have lost out in the mass textiles market to cotton, but it is still up there at the top of the fabrics tree being seen as a more luxury product, used to manufacture a wide range of goods from
sheets to table cloths and curtains; and of course, we still use linen in its various qualities of weave for clothes for all occasions.
It’s probably fair to say that linen needs a little more attention than cotton and other fabrics to keep it at its best, but whether it’s the soft luxury of linen sheets, the crisp beauty of table linen or the cool, stunning impact of lightweight linen curtains, that really is small price to pay for what is a beautiful, long lasting and luxurious household fabric that will add that extra touch to your home.
And if you really don’t want to give your fabrics that little extra attention, you can always cheat a little with a modern ‘faux linen’ fabric range; a linen / polyester / cotton mix that gives the texture and look of linen without all the elbow grease needed with the iron!
Take a fresh look at linen and what it can do for your home; call in to the shop and see for yourself why I just love that linen feeling!