Sleeping is something we all do regularly. As such, it has a significant effect on every aspect of our lives, positive or negative, depending on our relationship with it. And although we rarely put much thought into maintaining healthy conditions and habits surrounding sleep until it already gets disrupted, it makes sense to invest in this portion of our time beforehand. We go over how you can do this in many of our articles, suggesting you to follow some sleep hygiene steps, avoid stress and stimulants, exercise, etc. However, it is just as important to set up a comfortable, welcoming environment in your bedroom as it is to brush your teeth and ditch your smartphone.
Besides dimming the lights and ensuring your room is clean and aired out, an essential contributing factor for your overall sleep quality is sometimes underestimated but quite obvious – your bedding! The type of mattress you choose, your preferred pillow, and even your sheets have the potential to make or break the calm atmosphere needed for sound sleep.
Depending on your sleep pattern and general preferences, as well as any issues you may face at bedtime, different kinds of materials may suit you. Considering categories like temperature regulation, durability, softness, etc. will help you choose between the many options available on the market. You may already be familiar with some of them like cotton, polyester, or silk, but today we will talk about the particular characteristics of linen. Find out below how it’s made, what else it’s used for and some of the best sheet designs to browse from.
Linen fabric is made from the flax plant. It is a current favorite because of its distinctive texture, feel, and resilience guaranteed by the unique way these sheets are designed and manufactured. From the hand-harvested flax to the elegant end product it makes, the process can take a few different turns which result in distinct finishing touches in the sheet’s final design.
It all starts with the flax plant, or rather, the cellulose fibers it contains. When the flax is harvested by hand, its fibers tend to be the longest and most durable, promising a strong material later on. The plant is dried, and its seeds are removed, before continuing to the process called retting. Here, the flax stalks are wetted, then dried and scutched. Scutching is the process of removing the wooden parts from the flax fiber, and the last thing to be done before finally polishing, or heckling this material ready to be spun into a yarn.
Linen is known to be the world’s most durable natural fiber, and it is even used in paper money to increase its strength. Its origin is natural, which is of great appeal to many. But compared to other similar fabrics like bamboo, it has some unique advantages (and drawbacks) – its exceptional temperature regulation, lack of abrasion and sturdiness are just a few. It not only ensures your sheets will last a couple of decades at least, but they will get increasingly softer and more comfortable with time, contrary to most of the competing products.
Linen is known to gain strength when wet and can absorb over 20% of its weight in water before it first begins to feel damp. Not only is it stronger than cotton, but it’s also antifungal and hypoallergenic due to its natural ability to prevent bacterial growth and dirt buildup. Besides its essential purpose for those struggling with allergies at bedtime, this property makes it a perfect fit for towels.
Types of Linen Fabric
Linen fabric types are mostly distinguished by different texture and weave patterns. Keep reading to find out more about them and how they are used.
It is also known as glass toweling fabric as it is commonly used for wiping glassware. This fabric typically has a checkered or striped pattern of red or blue on a white background. It is absorbent, has a loose weave, and it is the best for cleaning purposes.
One variation of this fabric is Holland linen, which is commonly used for making window shades, as it is hard for the sunlight to penetrate it. Cambric linen also falls under this category, and it got its name from Cambria, as it was first produced there. Handkerchiefs, lingerie, and other similar items are typically made of it. Finally, Butcher’s linen is coarse, stiff, strong, and usually used for butchers’ aprons.
Sheeting linen is a heavy type of fabric commonly used in the manufacture of sheets, as the name suggests. It is made almost entirely for this purpose, although suits, dresses, and other clothing can also be made from it.
All types of linen suitable for producing towels are known as toweling linen. They are often combined with other materials like cotton or polyester to make them cheaper or soft without the break-in period. It may be unnecessary for an average household, but it’s vital for some establishments like hotels.
These fabrics are highly absorbent, and thus suitable for sanitary towels and diapers. Bird’s eye linen is characterized by small geometric patterns that are similar to a bird’s eye. Huckaback linen fabric is produced from either a blend with, or from pure linen.
Damask Linen Fabric
Damask is woven on a jacquard loom, using a mix of plain and satin weaves. The damask fabric has a smooth texture with a reversible pattern. It usually comes in one color and is traditionally used for napkins, tablecloths, table runners and other home textile pieces. Venise linen fabric is a variation of damask.
Best Linen Sheets in 2019
Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets are extremely breathable, providing cool sleep even on memory foam and similar heat-trapping materials, as well as to hot sleepers in general. It is a vital feature since excessive heat may easily disrupt your sleep. Parachute beddings soften with each wash and need a break-in period of three to five washes before they settle. There is some shrinkage with the first washing, but then the fit remains constant.
Unless you have an extremely tall mattress, Parachute linens should still fit after the shrinkage. The standard set includes two pillowcases and a fitted sheet. A top coat costs extra. You can try them out at home as there’s a 60-day return policy.
- 100% Flax
- Customizable sets
- OEKO-TEX certified
- Choice of seven colors, garment dyed
- Deep pocket 16”
- A bit expensive.
- Prone to wrinkling.
- Not available in twin or twin XL sizes
These sheets are made of durable linen which is breathable and cool during the summer, yet warm and comfortable during the winter. They dry out fast as the moisture is absorbed well and released quickly.
Not as soft as some other brands, these products come out of the box stiffer and require some breaking-in over time to reach their highest potential. They are stonewashed, hand-cut, and sewn by skilled craftsmen, so each set is unique.
All MagicLinen sheets are dyed without heavy chemicals in an OEKO-TEX certified facility. There are ten colors, two striped options, and one subtle grid pattern. You can choose between regular and extra-deep pocket sets at 10,” and 18” deep as the sheets are designed to fit every mattress size.
Features and Design
- Naturally hypoallergenic
- Made in Lithuania
- Sizes range from twin to king
- Regular and deep pocket options
- OEKO-TEX certified
- Choice of 10 colors and three patterns
- Craftsman made
- Worn-in aesthetic
- Coarse texture
- No trial period
Merryfeel French Linen Sheets
Many 100% linen sheets are woven from natural French flax to achieve a luxurious finish. As a result, every product is of premium quality and lasts long with minimal maintenance. Merryfeel French Linen Sheets have a beautiful drape, and they absorb moisture well and remain dry to touch, which makes them great for summer.
The comfortability and the breathable feel of the Merryfeel sheets throughout all seasons is something that many customers appreciate. Like other linen, these may be scratchy for the first few uses but soften after a short period. Although initially annoying, this is a guarantee of the material’s durability. Also, they may have a slight odor, which affects people with sensitive noses, but it will clear up with the first wash. These sheets are very affordable compared to other models, and they are available in different sizes and eight stunning colors.
Features and Design:
- Woven from genuine French flax for a fine finish.
- Have a stunning drape, texture, and longevity.
- Deep 15” pocket
- Eight colors are available
- Excellent price point
- Potential shrinking during the first few washes
- Don’t have a very smooth texture
Snowe Linen Sheets
This Italian-made velvety set makes our softest linen pick. It comes in Full, Queen, King, and California King sizes, ensuring a proper fit for most homes. As for the colors, Snowe Linen Sheets come in three options: ash gray, essential white and slate blue. The signature “buttery soft” feel comes from a unique manufacturing process called air-washing, which uses gusts of wind to blast, tumble and whip the fibers into a smoother, looser form before they get intricately hand-finished into sheets.
However, this doesn’t compromise their resilience; Snowe remains on par with some of the most luxurious models available thanks to the weave work behind it, promising to last for decades – and it even gets softer as the time goes by. Although slightly above average when it comes to pricing, these airy sheets will make you question if it’s really linen they’re made of. Another plus in their direction – customers from the continental US get free shipping and returns from Snowe.
Features and Design:
- 100% Washed linen
- You will get one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, and two pillowcases in a set.
- OEKO-TEX certified
- A rich, textured look
- Broken-in, silky feel
- Soft, yet long-lasting
- Air-washed into rough shape, then perfected by hand
- Fits any mattress depth
- Free shipping and returns
- A bit more expensive than the average
- Comes in only three colors
Cultiver Linen Sheets
Cultiver’s sizing is a little limited, but these sheets come in the broadest range of colors and prints we’ve seen. Cultiver Linen Sheets have a more substantial feel and are thicker than other models. They are stone washed and pre-washed to ensure softness and have a deep pocket which accommodates most mattress heights.
A wide array of colors is available and you will be able to find something that will match the style of your bedroom. These sheets drape nicely, are cool to the touch, and they sleep well in warm and cold weather. The only downside is that only two sizes are available – Queen and King. Cultiver has a 30-day return window but doesn’t offer a warranty.
Features and Design:
- 100% pure
- Woven from European flax
- Natural colored and more textured
- Weighs 165GSM
- Comes in a special bag for storage
- Free shipping
- Pre-washed for softness and durability
- Extra deep 18” pocket
- Choice of 15 colors or two stripes
- Only Queen and King sizes
- Not everyone likes the feel
- It is a bit pricy
Tanya is a professional writer and editor with a B.A. in English from the University of Chicago. Tanya has been fighting insomnia for most of her adult life, and she knows firsthand how vital a good night’s rest can be for people with sleep problems.