Linen, a fibre with multiple uses over time

From my childhood in Brittany, I have no memories of large fields of flax but of a wardrobe filled with white linen adorned with embroidered letters or ladder stitched. Between this memory and today, many other uses have been discovered for flax, which I would like to share with you.”

Flax linen in the past

The earliest trace of flax linen dates back to 36,000 BC, making it the oldest textile in the world.
The pharaohs used it for their mummies, with 1kg of linen required to wrap an adult body.
In the 12th century, the countryside of Brittany, Picardy and Flanders was covered with the distinctive small blue flowers, then the reign of Louis XIV made linen fashionable. Linen was also essential for the navy, thanks to its use for large sails.
In the 18th century, linen experienced a considerable boom with more than 300,000 hectares devoted to flax across France.
However, over the course of the 19th century, flax’s popularity waned with the industrialisation of cotton and then in the 20th century fell further out of fashion with the arrival of synthetic textiles such as polyester and other polyamides.

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Flax today

Flax is currently experiencing a real comeback, in particular because of environmental issues.
In addition to textiles, flax is now being used for multiple purposes: flax fibre can be found in American banknotes, in cigarette papers, and is also used as a mulch, as insulation and is used in the manufacture of cosmetics.
At Les Racines du Ciel, you will find flax linen every summer in multiple sensual and wrinkle-resistant fabrics, a recent innovation made possible by the development of linen threads that are fine and regular enough to be knitted.


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Flax in the future

Research is being conducted on flax, exploring its potential to create ‘high-performance’ composite materials to replace commonly used glass and carbon fibres.
At the forefront of innovation, it is currently being used and will be increasingly present in sports equipment (bicycle helmets, snowshoes and windsurfing gear), furniture (chairs and table), mechanical equipment for the automotive industry and also in aircraft.


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At Les Racines du Ciel, flax can also be found on our plates every day in the form of seeds rich in omega 3 for Nathalie’s morning fruit muesli and as a garnish for my salads!
Christian Tournafol