What is "Flax" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 02-Mar-2024 (4 months, 14 days ago)
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Flax: The Renaissance of Natural Fibers in the Textile Industry

Flax in Textile: Meaning, Definition, and Explanation

Flax, also known as linseed, is a versatile natural fiber derived from the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). It has been used for centuries in the textile industry due to its exceptional qualities and wide range of applications. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of flax in textile, including its history, types, tips in handling, profiles of top international users and manufacturers, and a thought-provoking conclusion.

History and Origin

The use of flax in textiles dates back thousands of years, with evidence of its cultivation and utilization found in ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia. Flax fibers were highly prized for their strength, durability, and versatility. Throughout history, flax has played a vital role in the production of linen, a fabric renowned for its breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and aesthetic appeal.

Types of Flax Fibers

Flax fibers can be classified into two main types based on their length:

  1. Long Staple Flax: Long staple flax fibers, also known as line flax, typically range from 20 to 200 centimeters in length. These fibers are highly valued for their strength and are predominantly used in the production of fine linens and high-quality fabrics.
  2. Short Staple Flax: Short staple flax fibers, also called tow flax, are shorter in length, usually between 2 and 20 centimeters. These fibers are coarser and are commonly used in the manufacturing of coarser textiles, such as twine, ropes, and canvas.

Tips in Handling Flax

Handling flax requires special care to preserve its natural properties and ensure optimal results:

  • Preparation: Before working with flax, it is recommended to pre-wash the fabric to remove any impurities and shrinkage. Flax fibers have a natural tendency to wrinkle, so ironing or steaming may be necessary to achieve a smooth finish.
  • Cleaning: Flax fabrics should be washed with mild detergents and gentle cycles to avoid excessive agitation, which can damage the fibers. Air-drying is preferable to maintain the fabric's integrity.
  • Storage: Flax garments and fabrics should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight to prevent discoloration and degradation. It is advisable to store them flat or rolled to minimize creasing.

Top International Users and Manufacturers

Flax is utilized by several renowned international brands and manufacturers in the textile industry. Here are five prominent users and manufacturers:

  1. Libeco: Libeco is a Belgian company that has been producing high-quality linen fabrics since 1858. They are committed to sustainability and offer a wide range of linen products, including home textiles, apparel, and upholstery fabrics.
  2. Siulas: Siulas is a Lithuanian linen textile company with a rich history spanning over 90 years. They specialize in linen fabrics, yarns, and finished products, maintaining traditional craftsmanship while incorporating innovative techniques.
  3. Masters of Linen: Masters of Linen is a French association that promotes and certifies European linen producers and brands. They ensure high-quality standards and traceability, supporting sustainable and ethical practices in the linen industry.
  4. Liandlo: Liandlo is an Estonian linen brand known for its modern and minimalist approach to linen garments and home textiles. They focus on creating timeless designs with a strong emphasis on sustainability and natural materials.
  5. St. Geneve: St. Geneve is a Canadian company specializing in luxury bed linens made from the finest flax fibers. They prioritize exceptional craftsmanship and offer a range of linen bedding collections renowned for their comfort and elegance.


Flax, a versatile natural fiber with a rich history, continues to be a valuable resource in the textile industry. Its long and short staple fibers find applications in a wide range of textiles, from fine linens to ropes and canvas. By understanding the types and proper handling of flax, individuals can appreciate its unique qualities and contribute to sustainable and innovative textile production.

Flax is taken from the stalk of the Linum usitaatissimum plant. It is a long, smooth fiber and is cylindrical in shape with a length varying from 6 to 40 inches but averaging between 15 and 25 inches. The color is usually off-white or tan and due to it's natural wax content, flax has excellent luster. It is considered to be the strongest of the vegetable fibers and is highly absorbent, allowing moisture to evaporate with speed. It conducts heat well and can be readily boiled. It is very washable but has poor elasticity and does not easily return to its original shape after creasing. When processed into a fabric it is called linen

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