Linen & care
What is Linen?
Linen is the fabric woven from the flax plant (linum usitatissimum). The stem of this plant produces the natural fibre that gives linen its distinctive quality and texture. All our linen comes from flax grown and woven in Russia and Europe.
Flax needs less fertilizers and pesticides than most other crops - it is low input and therefore more environmentally friendly. It is also renewable with a short growing cycle and every part of the plant is used. Flax is grown for its fibre (linen, paper, rope) and its seeds (linseed oil). Flax fibre is stronger than cotton fibre and its properties were recognised as early as Phoenician times when it was used to make linen sails.
It is said that of all textile fibres, linen is the most ecologically sound.
People are often intimidated by linen due to the misconceived notion that it is difficult to care for. The message here is that linen does not have to be treated in any special way and ironing is not obligatory!
Our linen can be washed in a washing machine – plain white linen at 60 degrees and coloured linen at 40 degrees. We don’t recommend bleach as it can damage any sort of fabric.
Our linen fabric by the metre is not pre-shrunk. If you are making anything with our fabric, such as a loose cover or curtains, remember to either wash the linen first or allow for 2% shrinkage.
Ideally, as soon as something is spilt on your lovely white linen tablecloth you should soak it using a good detergent. This could be inconvenient in the middle of dinner - just remember to soak the linen as soon as possible. Never throw salt on red wine stains as this will fix it. You could however dilute the red wine by pouring a little white wine or water on it – then soak it.
Some of our linen will shrink by about 2% after the first wash - we have factored this into all our sizing. If you buy our ready to hang curtains remember to either wash them before you hem them or allow for the 2% shrinkage when hemming. And likewise our fabric should also be washed before you make anything with it (or allow for 2% shrinkage).
We do not recommend tumble drying in our washing instructions as it always decreases the life of any fabric (think of the fluff in the filter!). Having said that, it is unreasonable to expect people not to use their dryers - it is obviously a more practical way of drying things and everything comes out beautifully supple and soft. Try not to let linen dry completely if you are going to iron – linen is much easier to iron while damp. If you dry linen completely in the tumble dryer it may appear to have drastically shrunk. The fibres have just been compacted together and will return to normal after a quick press with an iron (and a spray of water).
The dreaded ironing! Firstly, as already mentioned - you don’t have to. It is perfectly fine to wash your linen sheets, dry them and put them straight back on your bed. It will look slightly creased, but if you don’t mind and ironing is not one of your favourite pastimes then that’s fine.
However, if you like the idea of pressed linen sheets, table cloths, napkins etc ironing can be an enjoyable and therapeutic experience! Put on the radio, watch TV, listen to a book on tape – there are endless ways of making ironing less of a drag.
Here are a few ironing tips:
- Always iron linen while still damp (it’s much easier to get rid of the creases) – then fold and put in an airing cupboard or somewhere warm.
- Use a steam iron.
- Linen water is a great invention – fragranced water that can be sprayed on as you iron. It smells great and helps with the ironing too.
- Iron folded sheets, duvet covers and tablecloths – if you don’t mind the chequer board creases (which we like), then this can reduce the time it takes.
- Use starch for table linen and clothes for that crisp linen look. It will also slightly protect the linen from stains.
- Ironing embroidered linen can be difficult as the iron can get caught in the stitching and cause damage. Just place a piece of plain material over the top and iron the two together.