Linen is a composite fibre and is obtained from the innermost layer of the cortex of the flax plant, linum usitatissimum, consisting of about 70% cellulose. The average length of its elementary fibres varies from 20 to 30mm; its thickness is around 20 to 30 microns; the fibre has a polygonal cross-section. The number of fibres present in the cortex of a single plant can vary from 20 to 50. To obtain the fibre, the dried stems are laid out to steep for some days in bowls of water, although a quicker method is to submit them to the action of water vapour or special bacteria: the substances which tie the fibres together decompose and dissolve, thus freeing the fibre. Other steps in the process include the elimination of hard fibre to obtain the raw linen, which is then combed to separate the long and the short fibres and broken up. Hard-wearing, linen is thermally insulating, hypo-allergenic, shiny and shows off colours and chromatic effects well.
“Linen for the dressmaker is what marble is for the sculptor: a noble material”