Distinguishing Linen from Cotton

Linen TowelI was so pleased with my wonderful green linen kitchen towels that I made last month, that I decided to make a whole bunch more. I wanted some for my own home and some to give as Christmas presents in a few short months. I wanted to give another company a chance at winning my customer appreciation though. So I searched the internet every day for about 2 weeks to find a new supplier. I finally found a fabric store in California that sells linen exclusively and  after I throughly read their website and blog and I investigated all the different weights of linen that they offered, I decided to take a chance and place an order.

The company shipped my linen within hours after ordering on a Friday afternoon and I had the precious little package in my hands 5 days later. I was excited to have found a company who shipped so quickly. Normally it takes companies about a week to package and ship an order, then I still have to wait for it to arrive. My glee was short lived though.

I laundered the burgundy linen the way I have always laundered new linen fabric that is not in garment form yet; I washed it in hot water and I tumbled it dry. When I opened the dryer and took it out I was shocked to experience static. Linen never conducts static. Static is something that is generated from synthetic fibers not the long staple, hallow, natural fibers of linen. When I went to remove the lint trap I was dumbfounded at the amount of lint that there was. Cheap linen will sometimes produce a small amount of lint the first time it is laundered, but I only had 2 yards of linen and this was a lot of lint.


Not being one to waste anything though, I made up two towels as test pieces, re-laundered them, (more lint was produced), and began to wipe wet dishes with them. I was dishearten immediately because the towels simply pushed the water around at first. It took a while for the (obvious) cotton fibers to begin absorbing the water. The towels also left burgundy flecks of fiber on my white dishes. By this time I was starting to grit my teeth together. I had only paid $8.12 a yard for this fabric, but it was suppose to be linen not linen, cotton, polyester blended fabric.

Kitchen Dish Towels

Pressed linen blend towels

I have been using the towels for about 2 weeks now and they no longer produce visible lint in the dryer or on the dishes, but they are still not as absorbent as my green European Linen towels and as you can clearly see, they launder like cheap cotton.


Please note that the edges of these unpressed linen towels lay relatively flat.

Linen is renowned for it’s wrinkles, but the wrinkles are formed in certain areas along the individual fiber shafts, which are quite long at 12 – 30” a piece. So the wrinkles in linen tend to follow long loose natural patterns until human hands begin to manipulate it. Cotton on the other hand will form tight short wrinkles because of the short 1-3” fiber lengths. Just by looking at the two towels side by side, the differences are very clear. Both towels were laundered together and both towels came out of the laundry basket at the same time. Look how the Burgundy towels are severely distorted along the hem lines.


The second fabric that I purchased was also labeled as 100% linen and it too produced lint upon washing, however this lint came off of 5 yards of fabric not two and there was not as much of it.


One other point that I want to mention is that the bleached linen was suppose to be 4.3 oz/2yd and the burgundy was 5.3oz/2yd, yet the bleached linen is a bit thicker and coarser. The Burgundy is baby soft with the drape of fiber that has been used and laundered for years.

I am not angry over my experience, but I am very disappointed with this company however. I have not yet written to them, but I will do so this week. I am hoping that they are not aware that they are selling blended fiber fabric. It would be a shame if they were aware and deliberately cheating innocent consumers.

The bright side of the experience is that I have gained a lot of first hand experience with comparing 100% linen to linen blended textiles and I doubt that I will soon forget any of it.

Happy Creating!

2 thoughts on “Distinguishing Linen from Cotton

  1. Gosh I always learn so much reading your posts on fabric and seamstressing! I have to say, I don’t think I have ever seen that much lint!
    I hope the company solves this in a satisfactory manner. And so disappointing after all that research!

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