• Kaylin Beach

Textile Talk: Flax

Here’s another textile history lesson for you this fine day, this time on the topic of Flax.

Perhaps you are familiar with the term ‘flax’, as it is commonly heard in connotation these days with ‘flaxseed’ or ‘flaxseed oil’ or even the fabric it can create; ‘linen’. Flax seed has a list of uses that could fill a series of blog posts on its own. However, seldom do we ever consider the history of this incredible plant, or the role it has played in shaping our cultures, fashion, and language. Today we're going to focus on the textile, not the food, produced by this incredible plant!

Let’s jump back in time about 5000 years. Yep, the oldest remaining swatch of linen fabric is dated to this time period in Egypt - part of a dress believed to have been worn during Egypt's first Dynasty. Did you know that flax linen was used to wrap mummies because it allowed the body to breathe? Flax linen was a very common fabric available throughout history across the Old World. In the Bible, fine linens are referenced throughout the testaments as clothing fabrics, as well as the cloth used to wrap Lazarus and Jesus in when they were buried in their tombs. During the Renaissance, the majority of clothing worn was woven from flax. Up until the early 1900’s, linen cloth (made from flax) was used for tablecloths, napkins, drapes, and other household linens. The word ‘linen’ ceased to refer to the type of textile, but the textile’s use (household linens, table linens, bed linens, etc…).