At Piglet in Bed, we mention linen A LOT. In fact, we never stop talking about its benefits and the many reasons why we think linen makes such a good bed companion, from linen bedding to linen pyjamas. But what is linen? In this post, we want to clear up any myths around the origin of the fabric and highlight some of its key properties that make it not only a wonderfully comfortable material but a natural, sustainable choice too.
Firstly, what is linen and what is it made from?
Linen is a strong, lightweight and absorbent textile made from the fibres of the flax plant, a pretty blue flowered crop most commonly found across Western Europe. One of the world's oldest textiles, linen can be traced back thousands of years to ancient civilizations and is even mentioned in the Bible.
Today, linen is a luxurious and expensive material that is only produced in small quantities. A greater amount of care and time goes into harvesting flax in comparison to other natural fibres such as cotton. During the production process, the fibres are extracted from the flax plant and then stored for a long period of time to allow them to soften. Additionally, flax fibres are not elastic, and so weaving them without breaking the threads requires a great amount of skill and attention.
Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant, a pretty blue-flowered crop
Where is linen produced?
Flax crops are commonly grown in France, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy. At Piglet in Bed, we source all of our linen from across Western Europe, where 80% of the world's linen production takes place.
What are the key benefits of linen?
- It is breathable, thanks to its natural long fibres that allow the air to circulate through and around the fabric.
- It is thermoregulating, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- It is absorbent, holding 20% of its weight in water without a sensation of dampness.
- It is super soft and gets softer with wear.
- It can be up to three times stronger than cotton meaning it's a durable material and linen products can last for a long time.
- It is easy to care for. We have compiled a complete guide on how to care for your linen, including how to wash, dry and store your linen to ensure it stays in great condition.
Why is linen considered a sustainable material to produce?
How to choose the right linen fabric
As with any material, the quality of linen can vary and so it is important to make sure you're investing in a good quality fabric from a reputable source that is going to last. Firstly, check that the linen is pure and not mixed with any other materials such as cotton or polyester. Secondly, check where the linen has been sourced from. As we mentioned earlier on, the majority of linen comes from Western Europe as its climate provides the optimum growing conditions for flax crops, making European linen some of the highest quality in the world. Piglet in Bed's linen bedding, pyjamas and homewares are all made from 100% European linen.
Piglet in Bed, Sage Green Linen Bedding, photography by @thesimpleexplorer
Why is linen considered to be the perfect material for bed sheets?
It’s really only been in the last ten years or so that linen has started to become the preferred fabric choice when it comes to bedlinen, and it’s easy to see why when you consider its main properties. If you’re a hot sleeper who suffers with night sweats for example - whether this is due to hormones or medication - linen’s breathable and absorbent qualities will make this a better bedding material for you in comparison to other fabrics such as high thread count cotton or silk.
Linen bedding varies in quality depending on where it’s been sourced and the quality of manufacturing and so make sure you look for linen bed sheets that are well weighted and have a soft, almost creamy-like texture. It’s this surface texture that makes linen sheets feel warm to the touch unlike other synthetic bedding materials.
One of linen’s other properties is its natural crinkles that make a bed look inviting and feel as cosy as possible. These soft crinkles also mean linen sheets are super easy to care for as they don’t require ironing.
If you’re still not sure whether linen or cotton is the right option for you when it comes to bedding, make yourself comfortable and prepare to witness The Battle of the Naturals: Linen vs Cotton Bedding.
Piglet in Bed, Moss Green and Berry Gingham Linen Pyjamas and Botanical Green Linen Duvet Cover, photography by @leiamorrison
What makes linen a good material for clothing and sleepwear?
Linen clothing is a wonderful option for the summer months and a great option for all-year-round sleepwear, owing to it being lightweight, soft against the skin, as well as natural anti-allergenic and anti-microbial. In addition, linen pyjamas will wick away moisture from the surface of your skin during the night, meaning you stay cool and dry. As we mentioned before, linen is also much stronger than cotton and therefore more durable, meaning your linen pyjamas or linen robes will last you for many years to come and are therefore a more sustainable - and stylish - option.
Linen is a wonderful fabric, from its sustainable production process to its natural properties; it's made for ultimate comfort. To find out why linen's properties make it a good material for warmer climates, see our post on why linen is the perfect material for hot summer nights.