Sunday, July 14, 2013

Flax Flowers and Linen

Recently we have been busy sampling for our Summer collection. As the rain beats down and the wind weaves its way under doors and through cracks, we have been holidaying in a land of sheer silks, floaty cotton, dreamy broderie anglais and crisp, crisp linen.

This summer we are using 100% natural fabrics and this got us thinking about how natural fibers are created. Over the next few weeks we will delve into the outdoorsy and sometimes exotic delights  of cotton and silk, but first we will look at Linen.

Flax Flower print from Panteek
Linen starts its story as the humble Flax, a plant that also gives us the wonderful Linseed. The stems of the Flax plant go through quite a complex process including retting, scutching and heckling (GREAT words!) to remove the outer straw-like fibers from the stalk. Eventually what is left are the strong and straight threads that are woven into fabrics and the like.

Field of Flax by Richard Hugo

Linen has been used since ancient times with fibers found in prehistoric caves dating back 30 000 years. In ancient Eygypt, mummies were wrapped in linen to signify purity and as a display of wealth.
We derive the word 'line' from the straight nature of the linen fibre and use the word flaxen to describe blonde tresses resembling the unbleached retted linen fibres. Lingerie too takes its name from the fact undergarments were traditionally made from the finest linen.

Far stronger and more durable than cotton, the highest and smoothest grades of linen are made into finely woven damasks, whilst the roughest fibres become commercial twine and rope.
Today the majority of flax/linen production is still derived from Eastern Europe and China, but the finest grades still come from Western Europe, specifically Ireland, Italy and Belgium where the linen production industries have a long and rich history.

And Ceil Chapman would know!
We have chosen linen for our Summer collection because of it's luxurious weight, it's slight sheen and its magnificent ability to drape stiffly. It is also a great fabric to wear in hot weather; breathing well and being spectacularly resistant to perspiration. The linens we have chosen are blended with Cotton or Silk to improve elasticity and crease resistance. We have swing skirts made in floral print cotton/linens, wiggle skirts made in thick colour-block linen and a dress made in the finest silk/linen, with a fabulous gathered tulip skirt.

We can't wait to show you!


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