Linen Sarees By Karagiri

 LINEN SAREE

There is one fabric better than cotton to beat the summer heat, it is linen. Made from flax fibres, long staple linen fabrics are not only soft, smooth and absorbent, they keep the body cool and comfortable throughout the day, better than any other fabric. This fabric is known for being extremely sturdy, durable as well as highly absorbent, which is why is it used not just to create clothes but also to make towels, tablecloths, bags, aprons, napkins and cushion covers.

 

 

Linen, like most other fabrics, can be embroidered on or printed on to create different patterns or designs as per the creative vision of the designer working with it. It is counted among the oldest of textiles of the world. The name, notably, has a Latin origin with Linum, meaning flax plant. Linen sarees are almost a permanent fixture in the wardrobe of women from 16 to 60 and above sporting them with aplomb. These sarees are a great fit for every season – especially the Indian summers.

 

Origin :

Its origin can be traced thousands of years back when people started transforming plant fabric to string and cloth. It was during 5000 B.C when people actually started weaving this fabric from flax plant. Notably, flax plant mainly grows in Central Asia and the Mediterranean region. Since sarees were generally hand-spun in those days, they demonstrated a very different kind of finesse, conspicuously absent in the modern machine-spun sarees. Clothes made from this fabric were worn by the wealthier members of society as it is slightly harder to manufacture linen when compared to the manufacturing of other fabrics. The Egyptians indulged in a trade with Phoenicians who had their own merchant fleets, through which linen was traded with the people in the Mediterranean areas as well.

 

 

 It is through trade that linen eventually reached Ireland, where one of the most systemized means to actually produce flax have been documented. Once this fabric was filtered into England, it came to India during the British Rule. Largely worn by wealthier British people, the fabric was eventually produced in India as well to cater to their needs.

 

Present Day:

When it was first manufactured, linen was considered to be an extremely rare and expensive fabric; however, it is now being manufactured in all parts of the world. The flax plant thrives in most climates although, the top quality producers of both, this plant and the fabric, all come from Western Europe and Ukraine. Over the last few years, the production of linen in bulk quantities occurs mostly in East European countries and China however, when it comes to finding the highest quality, the best products come from certain niche producers in Italy, Belgium and Ireland as well as certain countries and cities such as Austria, Germany, Lithuania and Kochi in India, among many others.

 

 

In India, Kochi is the leading the producer of linen and exports the fabric to well-known international brands.

 

Making :

Linen is a material made from the fibers of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), one of the oldest cultivated plants in human history. The natural linen colour ranges between shades of ivory, ecru, tan, or grey with pure white linen being created by heavy bleaching.After this, the stalks are submitted to another procedure which is known as scutching. In this process, all the wooden portions present in the stalks are removed completely by crushing the stalks between metal rollers. The fibers are then separated from the mass (and other items like tow, shive and linseed are set aside to be used for other things). After all of this is done, a process called heckling takes place in which the fibers are basically separated from each other with the help of a comb.

 

 

There is also an alternate method that is used to create this fabric. This method is known as cottonizing and it is mainly a much faster (and less rigorous) method that also requires less equipment. In this process, the stalks of flax are processed the same way that cotton is processed and traditional cotton processing machinery is used to attain this. But, the drawbacks of this method are that the finished product lacks the distinct look and feel of linen. This, then, rather defeats the purpose of harvesting this fabric.

 

Styling :

Linen clothes tend to have a fantastic fall and fit and are best suited to formal wear, although informal, casual clothes are also created with this fabric. As linen has a very rough, natural look to it, it is always more aesthetically pleasing to pair this fabric with simple minimalistic accessories, such as wooden jewellery. When wearing white linen or cream linen, colours work very well in accessories, in that this fabric really helps them stand out.

 

 

There is also an alternate method that is used to create this fabric. This method is known as cottonizing and it is mainly a much faster (and less rigorous) method that also requires less equipment. In this process, the stalks of flax are processed the same way that cotton is processed and traditional cotton processing machinery is used to attain this. But, the drawbacks of this method are that the finished product lacks the distinct look and feel of linen. This, then, rather defeats the purpose of harvesting this fabric.

Is Linen different from cotton ??

 

Yes. Linen fibers are thicker & long compared to cotton fibers. Linen has more luster than cotton. Both cotton and linen fiber is made up of cellulose but they are quite different in terms of several properties:

 

Linen vs Cotton

 

  • Cotton is a seed fiber whereas linen is extracted from flax plant which is a bast fiber.
  • Linen fabrics are environment-friendly compared to cotton. Both are extremely breathable and absorbent but, cotton does not share the property of Linen's moisture wicking.
  • The durability of Linen is more compared to cotton.

 

Facts :

  • Thread Count: While buying a linen saree, you have been probably told to pay attention to the thread count. Thread count refers to the number of horizontal (weft) and vertical (warp) threads per square inch. Generally, higher the thread count, softer will be the fabric, and more likely it will be wearable or become softer over time. An average linen saree is counted between 60 to 120 count. So the thread count is an indication of only the texture of the linen saree. Thread count is not an indication of the Quality of the saree. Myth Broken!

 

  • Linen as a fabric is stronger:The tensile strength of linen is twice as much as cotton, and thrice as much as wool because the fibre is derived from the middle of the flax plant, so it will naturally be stronger. So interestingly, linen is far more superior in quality and strength than you think!

 

  • Warp or Weft based: Linen is warp based saree where all the warps are made up of only Linen yarn. If we use linen yarn in both the warp and the weft, they are called linen by linen.Other options include combinations using linen as the prime yarn in the warp and using 30% - 40% cotton or silk or khadi with linen in the weft making them linen by cottonor linen by silk or linen by khadi  Linen is breathable but has the tendency to be stiff. When linen yarn is combined with cotton, khadi, and silk the texture of the saree changes accordingly. Interesting right!

 

  • Linen is wearable throughout the year: Linen is one of the best fabrics. It is comfortable and has sweat absorbing properties. The main benefit of wearing linen during summer is that it allows easy air flow and reflects heat better. In hot weather, people dressed in Linen were measured to be 3-4 degrees cooler than people dressed in silk or cotton. Everybody thinks Linen is only for summer, but the fact is it can be made heavier with the warp-weft tricks and can be made wearable even in the winters too. Woot Woot!


Maintenance :

It is simple and requires little care that other fabrics need, where subsequent washes of the linen clothing make them get softer. Linen being relatively easy to take care of, since it resists dirt and stains, has no pilling tendency, and can be dry-cleaned, machine-washed or steamed. It can withstand high temperatures, and has only moderate initial shrinkage. It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free.

 

 

Linen has an excellent resistance to degradation by heat, in fact, is less affected by heat and sun light as are cotton and other fibers. An excellent resistance to strong alkalis, not much affected by low density acids if washed immediately, it would be damaged only by highly dense acids like any other.

Linen as pattern clothing makes you feel fresh for it is non-sticky character and dress material may be tailored without any trouble. Clothing may be hand-washed or machine-washed with every subsequent wash making the linen reasonably softer.