This Is How to Tell if You're Buying Real Flax Linen

As 100% pure flax linen has grown in popularity, so too has its imitators. There are plenty of linens out on the market usually fabricated from polyesters and other synthetic fibres. They might look like linen and even feel like linen, but there are a few tell-tale signs that sort the wheat from the chaff, quite literally, in the case of genuine, bonafide, high-quality flax linen sheets.

Here are seven ways to separate the dupes from the real deal.

7 tell-tale signs you're buying 100% real flax linen

1. Natural creases

Real flax linen will be easy to spot, thanks to its beautiful, natural creases throughout the fabric. This is because it does not have high elasticity and therefore does not spring back into shape. Instead, it holds its folded shape and any natural creases, giving it a soft, worn-in silhouette.

Other manchesters, however, will often resist wrinkles and be springy to the touch. Beware any line imitators that look too perfectly ironed! Though they might appear more aesthetically pleasing, they’re likely to not be the real deal.

2. Flax linen gets softer over time

This is a hard one to tell when you’re out shopping, but something to keep an eye on with you various linen products is how they age. Real flax linen will slowly become softer and softer with every single wash. Box fresh linen does tend to have a certain roughness to it, but a few spins around the washing machine will wear all those grooves down, leaving you with a smooth, luxuriously comfortable fabric to sleep in.

3. The fabric should be sturdy

Though linen has a low GSM—grams per square metre, or the metric by which fabric is weighed—the actual fibre itself is incredibly strong and durable. A good set of linen sheets is an investment for years and years because of the long shelf life of linen as a fabric.If you notice that the linen you are looking at online or in a shop looks old, tattered and worn-down, there’s a very good chance that you are not looking at real linen. The sturdiness and durability of genuine flax linen means that the fabric doesn’t show wear and tear as you wash it.

4. Look for the slubs

When you buy a set of flax linen sheets from Bed Threads you might notice tiny little globules of imperfections dotted throughout the weave. These are called ‘slubs’, and they’re actually naturally-occurring and the mark of true linen. Machine-made linen fashioned from polyester will not have any slubs at all. You can feel these slubs by running your hand over the fabric and paying attention to the small barely perceptible bumps. These are part of linen’s organic appeal, and are a mark of a high quality, authentic fabric.

5. Spill some water

Okay, you might not be able to take a bottle of water with you to sprinkle over a swatch of linen, but one way to tell that what you’re buying is the real deal and not a fake version is to see how fast it absorbs liquid. Because linen has such high moisture-wicking qualities, it absorbs water incredibly fast. So while other fabrics might stay a mess if you spill some liquids on it, linen will take on all that excess water at high speeds. In fact, linen can absorb 20 per cent of its own body weight before it starts to show dampness, which is part of what makes the fabric so special.

6. Get touchy-feely

The only way to tell true flax linen is get really up close and personal with it. By touching the fabric you will notice a few things about it, from the thick nature of the weave to the slubs but also the coolness of temperature. No matter the time of day, linen will feel cool to the touch, which is how you can tell that you’re touching authentic flax fabrics and not imitations.

7. Take a look at the colour

When buying something linen, whether it’s sheets or an item of clothing, try to spread it out as much as you can to get a bit of perspective. If you can see any unevenness in the colouring, it could be a result of a dodgy dye job from a fake linen producer. Also, any yellowing in the fabric could be a sign of synthetic linen, as opposed to the real deal. High quality, high-end flax linen, like the sheets you can buy from Bed Threads, will feature bright, glorious colours and crisp, pure whites that have been evenly dyed right across the fabric.

Now that we’re on the topic, this is why linen sheets don't have a thread count.

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