Curtains can be made from many different fabrics, but linen drapes are a popular choice for those people who want a classic look combined with the comfort and warmth that linen fabric brings to a room.
Linen is a fabulous material for home furnishings and drapes. Not only is it resistant to stains and dirt, it has a unique ability to conduct heat. It can draw the heat out of a room, keeping your home nice and cool, even in the height of the summer. Linen is far stronger than cotton, another natural fabric popular in home furnishings, and this makes it very suitable for curtains.
Linen fabric is made from the fiber of the flax plant. The flax needs to be hand harvested to generate the longest fibers, which makes it a labor intensive manufacturing process. As a result, linen tends to be a fairly expensive fabric. The fibers need to be loosened from the stalks and this is done using bacteria in a process called “retting”. Chemical retting methods are faster, but these are harmful to both the environment and to the fibers. The process of removing the fibers from the stalks completely is called “scutching”. After the fibers have been separated and processed, they can be spun into yarn and then woven into textiles, ready for dying, printing, or bleaching.
Linen textiles have a long history which goes back thousands of years. Dyed fibers found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia, suggest that the use of woven linen fabrics made from wild flax plants dates back as far as 36,000 BC. Linen wrappings have been discovered in Egyptian tombs. When the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses II, who died in 1213 BC, was opened, the linen inside was found to be perfectly preserved, even after 3,000 years. Linen curtains were also found inside the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Today, linen is used for many things, including clothes and home textiles. Linen fabric has a high natural luster and comes in a variety of natural color shades, including ivory, beige, and grey. Pure white linen is achieved by heavily bleaching the fabric. It has a crisp textured look and can range from rough and stiff, to soft and smooth.
Linen draperies are easy to take are of. Although it is very resistant to the dirt which inevitably collects through daily usage in a busy household, linen can be machine washed, dry cleaned, or steamed as necessary. This makes linen ideal for use in areas of heavy traffic, for example drapes used across french windows or patio doors. Once washed, the drapes can be tumble dried, but they are easier to iron while they are still damp. Linen does tend to wrinkle easily, so a linen drape might need ironing from time to time to retain its crisp smoothness.
With its attractive, natural colors, linen drapery is an ideal choice for homes with a natural theme. If you are after a simple, minimalist look for your room, linen drapes are an excellent choice when used in conjunction with cream furnishings and pale colors.