Linen – The Quintessential Summer Fabric
It was the fabric of choice for the ancient Egyptians, largely because it’s highly absorbent (so it’s able to pull moisture away from your body). It is also inherently strong, allowing it to be more loosely woven than cotton or silk. The looser weave enhances the fiber’s natural tendency to wick moisture off the body, and it also allows more air to pass through it. This makes it ‘cooler’ to wear than even cotton.
These basic characteristics of linen haven’t changed over the centuries, and are largely responsible for its continued popularity as summer wear.
The down side of linen is that the yarn is very stiff, hence its reputation for easy wrinkling. In recent years, the textile industry has developed resin finishes that are designed to reduce that problem, but these finishes come with their own set of challenges.
The Problem with Resins
Some of these resin finishes create an abrasive condition that promotes dye crocking. Also, when an excessive amount of the resin is used, the abrasion created sometimes results in a loss of tensile strength within the yarns, causing them to prematurely fail. This is known as “resin friction”. Lastly, some of these resinous sizing agents will trap the chemicals used during the scouring and dyeing of linen yarns, or may react with “sulfur dyed” linen fabrics, causing the chemical degeneration of the fibers.
So keep in mind that the upside of fewer wrinkles comes with the down side of more problems and a shorter life cycle.
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