From linen processing to flax processing to dough production

Summer clothes, kitchen towels, bags ... There are many things around us that are made of linen. In this article, I will explain how linen is made from flax, which is a raw material, to dough. Why don't you join us in pursuing the familiar linen "until you can"?

The raw material for linen is flax

Before looking at how linen is made, I would like to introduce the raw material flax (flax). Flux is a plant of the flax family. It is called flax in Japanese. Linen threads are made by processing the fibers of the fully grown flux stalks. If you process it further, it will be transformed into familiar clothes and tablecloths.

What is flax (flax)?

Flux is an annual plant of the Flaxaceae family. Generally, the state from flax to fiber of a plant is called "flux", and the product after the processed yarn is called "linen".

Cool and humid areas are suitable for cultivation, and famous producing countries include cold regions such as Russia and Ukraine. The seeds are sown from April to May, and if they grow well, beautiful blue-purple flowers will bloom around early summer. After that, it is harvested about a month later, and it is reborn from flax to linen. By the way, good quality oil can be collected from the seeds of flux, which is useful as food and paint. Beautiful flowers bloom, the stems become fibers, and even seeds can be used. It can be said that flax is a very lean plant.

In Japan, flax cultivation was popular in Hokkaido in the past.

Even when flax production began in earnest in Japan from the Meiji era, the first cultivated area was Hokkaido. When the war began, flax production began to be carried out nationwide for the purpose of securing a large amount of hemp products. However, after the war, the production volume gradually decreased, and in 1967, flax disappeared from Hokkaido.

And now. In Hokkaido, a project called "Flax Renaissance Project" is being promoted to revive flax again.

The center of the project, "Ama Kosha", is located in Tobetsu Town, about 30km away from Sapporo City, Hokkaido. It was formed from the desire to revive the former flax cultivation. In 2001, we actually revived flax cultivation in cooperation with local farmers, and now the flax field, which blooms in full bloom every July, is a tourist attraction in Tobetsu Town. It has been about 150 years since flax cultivation began in Japan. It can be said that the center is always Hokkaido.

Reference: Areas where flax cultivation is flourishing

Until flax becomes dough

Here, we will explain how flax (flax) becomes linen fabric. Flax for making dough is harvested from the end of July to August and processed into dough at a dedicated factory. The process until the flux becomes dough is quite different between Japan and overseas, so here we will focus on the method in Japan.

Flax manufacturing process. @: Flooding (letting)

The first job at the factory is to soak the flax from the farmer in water.

Before removing and processing the fibers of the stem, the fibers must first be made easy to remove. To do this, soak the flux in water and ferment it well. Then, the bacteria decompose the parts that are not used for the fabric, such as the epidermis of the stem and the soft tissue. In this way, only useful fibers are left in the fabric.

This method of flooding the flux is also called "fermentation refining". Refining means removing impurities and increasing the purity. This method, which uses only natural chemical reactions, is one of the traditional manufacturing methods. The big advantage is that you don't have to use drugs and the cost is kept to a minimum. The fermented flux is dried in the sun and dried well before moving on to the next process.

Flax manufacturing process A: Fibermaking (scatching)

Fiber making is the process of actually removing the fibers from the flux that has undergone flooding and drying. You can finally get the fiber by crushing the dry flux stalks with a machine and removing only the shattered hard part (woody part).

The flux fibers produced in this way are transported to the product factory. By doing the spinning work there, we finally change from "flux" to "linen", and we can make the material for linen clothes and towels that we are familiar with.

By the way, not all the harvested flux becomes linen. For example, if 100 kg of stems are sent from a farmer, the actual linen thread weighs about 15 kg. It's only about 15%. The rest is lost in the manufacturing process or becomes fuel or feed. The linen products that reach us are made by collecting only a small amount of flax.

Flax manufacturing process B: Drawing

The next step is to tan it by sandwiching it between iron and wood rolls. This is done to make the linen glossy. This makes it easier to handle as a fiber. By doing this, the yarn will proceed smoothly without loosening in the next spinning.

Flax manufacturing process C: Spinning

This is the final process. In the case of linen, it is a characteristic process that is different from the spinning process of other fibers in that it must be wet with water and spun (wet spinning). It is necessary to slowly and carefully thread it.

Even linen made from the same flux changes into a completely different shape in the process of becoming a dough. Here, let's look at the details of linen fabrics by type, weaving, and dyeing.

Process after becoming dough

Linen fabric weave

Plain weave and twill weave, which are well-known as general cloth weaves, are also common in linen products. It is used in all items, mainly clothing.

The linen waffles with innumerable dice floating on the surface have excellent water absorption and quick-drying properties, and are very hygienic. For daily necessities such as towels and pillowcases that get dirty quickly, this is a linen product that you should definitely choose. In addition, there are double weaves of melon, which has a high-class feel, and crepes, which are daringly woven to create a fluffy feel. The appeal of linen is that it gives you such a rich look just by changing the weave.

Linen fabric dyeing

Linen dyeing is divided into two types: yarn dyeing, which is dyed from yarn, and post-dyeing, which is done after the fabric is made. It is said that yarn dyeing is easy to produce an emotional color because it is colored firmly at the thread stage.

Post-dyeing is done after weaving the fabric, so there will be uneven color in the colored and non-colored areas. It seems that there are many fans who feel the depth of this color unevenness. There are also hand and machine prints, and more recently inkjet prints.


I have explained how linen changes from flax to dough. The linen products lined up in the shop are also processed into all shapes by taking time and effort from the raw material flax (flax). Linen is closely related to our daily lives in various shapes, colors, textures and uses. By the way, linen can be re-dyed by yourself if you prepare paint. Recently, the necessary paints have become easily available by mail order. If you get used to it, you can freely choose the color you like, so if you are interested, why not try it. It may be interesting for you, who have learned "until you can" linen, to take on the challenge.

Reference: How to enjoy antique linen

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