View Full Version : Breathability of linen

01-27-2011, 11:21 PM
I wanted to get some opinions on linen. Ordinarily, I use cotton for my period costumes (mainly cause it's cheap and easy to find), but a local fabric store has linen discounted enough for me to afford it. I want to make a reversible kirtle using the linen, but have no idea how well it breathes. I'll probably end up wearing the garment in late fall, which is pretty hot and humid in this part of Texas. I don't want to end up sweating buckets because of poor fabric choice. So, my question, who has used linen? Any opinions or advice? Thanks in advance.

01-27-2011, 11:32 PM
Linen is amazingly breathable! It's got a longer fiber structure than cotton, so it's also great at wicking away sweat to keep you cool and not sticky. The only thing I'm not positive on is if it's a historically accurate choice for a kirtle. I've heard and read that wool or silk are going to be the best bet for authentic fabric choices, but if linen is what you want and comfort is your primary concern, go for it!

01-28-2011, 04:46 AM
Linen is amazing! It is the best thing for breathability, and it is accurate for sooo many periods, even back to ancient times. It is absolutely perfect for kirtles! In fact, during the period in which kirtles were popular, linen was so ubiquitous that it was used by everyone from the lower class to the upper class. Unlike modern times, the middle ages were a time when linen was possibly the most affordable and easiest to obtain of all fabrics.

01-28-2011, 08:29 AM
Thanks for the replies! Looks like I'm going linen shopping lol. I hope that the store still has enough yardage of the colors I liked.

@Annwyn: a lot of the reference books and websites I looked at said the same thing about linen's availability and price-how things have changed!

01-28-2011, 04:20 PM
Yes, it's too bad linen is not so ubiquitous anymore. It is so comfortable!
By the way, I love this online store for linen: http://fabrics-store.com/
I usually buy the 5.3oz for my medieval gowns. They're super fast with shipping too.

03-01-2011, 06:19 PM
Linen was cheaper than cotton for most of history, I believe, since cotton only grew in tropical areas (transportation costs) and the seeds had to be picked out by hand (labour costs, although that may have been negligible). In contrast, linen was made from flax, which grew all over Northern Europe, and nearly everyone was either able to process it at home, or had a neighbour who could. It was a combination of cotton plantations in the British colonies and the invention of the cotton gin in the eighteenth century (which mechanized the seed-picking process) that made cotton cheaper.

So yes, get some linen and kirtle away.

03-06-2011, 04:15 PM
I second Annwyn's recommendation for fabrics-store.com. I don't buy linen anywhere else anymore. And, order enough times and they send you a free swatch card.