How is Linen Made from Flax Plant

Last Updated on February 28, 2024

I extend heartfelt gratitude to each one of you. The adventure was a feast for the eyes and an incredible learning experience that unfolded the mysteries behind creating the exquisite linen tops we adore.

As curiosity sparks among many of you about transforming the glorious linen plant into those stunning garments, I am thrilled to unravel the magical process that turns flax into the fashion-forward fabric we all love.

How is Linen Made from Flax Plant


  • Explore how the linen you love starts from tiny flax seeds and grows into beautiful fabric, all in about 100 days.
  • North Dakota’s cool weather plays a role in making linen special, adding to its quality.
  • Flax isn’t just for fabric; it’s also grown for useful flaxseed oil, showcasing its versatility.
  • Unlike cutting, linen flax is gently uprooted and left in the field to soak up rain and sun, giving it a natural color.
  • From mechanical processes to certification, follow linen’s journey, proving it’s not just a fabric but a sustainable choice for you and the planet.

It’s a story of nature’s rhythm, sustainable practices, and the meticulous artistry of crafting linen. This fabric graces our wardrobes and embodies a harmonious relationship with the environment.

How is Linen Made from Flax Plant?

Linen is crafted from the flax plant through a fascinating process: flax seeds are planted, the plant is uprooted during harvest, undergoes redding to develop its natural color, and is then mechanically processed to separate and spin the fibers, ultimately creating the exquisite linen fabric we adore.

The Marvelous Flax Plant

As many of you know, linen fabric is derived from the humble flax plant. The journey begins in March when flax seeds are planted, and the plant is ready for harvest by July.

What’s remarkable is that the growing season lasts approximately 100 days, and flax thrives naturally without the need for pesticides or irrigation, making it an environmentally friendly crop.

North Dakota: A Hub for Flax Production

Flax Production
Flax Production

North Dakota stands proudly as one of the largest flax producers in the U.S. The region’s cooler climate is ideal for flax cultivation, contributing to the quality of the linen produced. Interestingly, Canada holds the title of the world’s largest flax producer, emphasizing the global significance of this plant.

Divergence in Flax Usage

It’s worth noting that not all flax is grown for linen. In North America, a significant portion is cultivated for flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil. This oil has diverse applications, both in the dietary and industrial sectors.

Distinguishing Linen Flax

Distinguishing Linen Flax

The flax we encountered at Horizon Farms was specifically grown for its oil. Flax destined for linen fabric is planted more densely and grows twice as tall, reaching approximately four feet in height. Close to maturity, the flax blooms with periwinkle flowers that bloom briefly each day, creating a mesmerizing sight.

Harvesting and Redding

Unlike flax for oil, which is planted farther apart and cut, flax for fabric is uprooted during harvesting. This process is executed by mechanical grubbers, laying the flax on the fields for reading.

Redding involves exposing the uprooted flax to moisture for several weeks, breaking down the pectin, binding the linen fibers to the stem, and allowing the fabric to develop its natural color through interaction with rain, soil, and sun.

The Journey to Linen Fabric

The Journey to Linen Fabric
The Journey to Linen Fabric

The flax is removed from the fields and bundled into large bales following redding. The linen fibers are then separated from the stem through a mechanical process known as sketching and hackling. These fine, combed fibers are ready for spinning, resembling a mass of hair.

Spinning and Weaving

The flax yarn spun from a blend of short and long fibers, is then sent to weavers. Utilizing sophisticated computers, the yarn is carefully positioned vertically and horizontally on a loom.

The fabric is closely examined throughout the weaving process, and any flaws are meticulously repaired by hand.

Final Touches

Once woven, linen fabric can be sold in its natural state, known as the in-loom state. Many pieces showcase the unique flax color obtained naturally during the production process. Some linen rolls undergo additional finishing processes, including dyeing, bleaching, washing, and easy-care treatments.

Embracing Linen

Embracing Linen
Embracing Linen

The linen we purchase is Oeko-Tex certified, ensuring it has undergone thorough testing for harmful substances. As we witness this extraordinary journey, it becomes clear that linen is not just a fabric; it’s a miracle. Its benefits for both our bodies and the environment are unparalleled.


What is linen, and how is it made from the flax plant?

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. The process involves:

  • Planting flax seeds in March.
  • Harvesting in July.
  • Uprooting the plants.
  • Exposing them to moisture during redding.

Afterward, linen fibers are separated, spun into yarn, and woven into fabric.

Why is North Dakota a significant hub for flax production?

North Dakota’s cooler climate is ideal for flax cultivation. It is one of the largest flax producers in the U.S., contributing to the quality of linen produced in the region.

How does flax used for linen differ from flax used for flaxseed oil?

Flax for linen is planted closer together, grows taller, and is uprooted during harvesting. Flax for flaxseed oil is planted farther apart, cut, and grown to be shorter and bushier for increased seed production.

When is the peak blooming period for flax, and what happens during redding?

Flax blooms with periwinkle flowers for a few hours each day, peaking in the early afternoon. Redding is where uprooted flax is left in the field for several weeks, exposed to moisture that breaks down the pectin binding the linen fibers to the stem.

How is linen fabric examined and treated after weaving?

During weaving, linen fabric is continually examined for flaws, which are repaired by hand. Once woven, linen can be sold in its natural state (in-loom state) or undergo additional finishing processes such as dyeing, bleaching, washing, and easy-care treatments.

Why is linen considered a sustainable choice?

Linen is naturally sustainable as flax grows without pesticides or irrigation. The production process, from planting to harvesting and weaving, emphasizes environmental friendliness. Oeko-Tex certification ensures linen is thoroughly tested for harmful substances, reinforcing its sustainability.


As we delve into the intricate process of transforming flax into linen fabric, it’s evident that there’s nothing quite like the magic of linen.

Stay tuned for my next story, where I’ll uncover the apparel industry’s impact on our environment. Brace yourselves – the revelations might just deepen your appreciation for the miraculous world of linen.