The Properties & Uses of Linen Fabric Textiles

Updated February 21, 2017

Linen refers to a natural fabric made from the longer fibres of the flax plant. The use of linen fibre dates back thousands of years. Linen has a wide range of uses both in the home and in more commercial applications. As of 2011, the major linen production countries include Holland, Belgium, China and France.


Properties of linen include durability and resistance to abrasion. Linen has a strength factor equal to twice the strength of cotton, for example. Linen also absorbs dyes well and tailors well into various manufactured textile products. Linen tends not to pill or have static problems. In its natural state, linen ranges from white to a greyish brown colour. Linen fabrics, and the manufactured textile products made from it, respond well to cleaning either through washing or dry cleaning. Linen has a wide range of uses in manufactured fabric products both for garments and other types of manufactured products such as home fashion products.


Because of linen's absorbency properties, it makes a good fibre for the production of garments. Linen will only feel damp after 20 per cent moisture absorbency occurs. Additionally, linen has good heat conducting properties that allow the fabric to disperse body heat. In addition to linen's good absorbency properties, it has a fast-drying characteristic. This combination makes linen a comfortable garment fabric, particularly for summer wear. Linen also has little or no elasticity, which allows linen garments to retain their shape because the garments resist stretching as a result of wear. Some uses of linen fabric for garments include shirts, jackets, trousers, blouses, skirts, dresses and suits.


Around the household, linen has a variety of uses that involve both decorative and practical applications. Practical applications include the use of linen in such things as dish towels, upholstery and sheets. You can also find linen used in such home decor items as draperies, table linens, bedspreads, curtains and drapes, and even rugs. The same thermal properties that allow linen to make particularly comfortable warm weather garments also contribute to linen's usefulness for curtains and drapes in warm weather environments.


You can also find linen used in a number of miscellaneous applications which one or more of linen's characteristic make it a suitable choice. Some of the miscellaneous applications in which you will find linen used include handkerchiefs, insulation and filtration materials, wall coverings including but not limited to panelling, fabrics used in light aviation products, reinforced plastics, cotton, surgical thread and artists' canvases as described at the Bin Hai Times website.

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About the Author

A writer/editor since 1984, Christine Lebednik has spent much of her career in business and technical writing, and editing. Her consumer print and online articles include product descriptions for TDMonthly Online, book reviews for Catholic News Service, consumer reports for Consumer Search and works for various other publications. Lebednik received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College.