A little crush
The terms pre-washed and stonewashed are thrown about a lot when it comes to linen. The former is essentially to reduce the likelihood of linen shrinking, and the latter is as it sounds – the cloth is tumbled with stones (typically pumice and lava stone) in a large washing machine to stretch and soften the fibres.
The downside with stone washing can be the level of crumpling. It really does give rise to that crinkled and creased linen look, which, while laidback, can be a bit too much to handle for some. Enter, crushed linen.
This finish is your happy middle ground, your rumpled-but-not-too-rumpled result, your effortlessness but not without your elegance. Crushed linen is still beautifully soft against the skin, but there’s still a hint of linen’s quintessential crispness, making it perfectly fitting for summertime. Happily, it also boasts one of best character traits of all – it needs no ironing. Simply wash it, hang it, and it will dry with its lightly crushed effect intact.
What style of room does crushed linen bedding suit?
Another upbeat response – absolutely all interiors get along very naturally with crushed linen.
There was once a preconception that linen sheets were only the reserve of the bohemian home with its devil-may-care attitude; the French-inspired interior where everything is effortlessly chic and a little undone; or the bachelor city pad where it helped to give the illusion that the constantly unmade bed was an informed, laissez-faire style choice.
The reason for the rumour was down to the heavily crinkled aesthetic that we spoke about a few paragraphs ago. But with the subtler linen creases found in crushed linen, it opens up a world of opportunity to enjoy linen’s easy character in a wealth of homes. Admittedly, it will never have the sharp tailoring of cotton bedding that was made for tucking taut under the mattress – if Downton Abbey levels of refinement are the goal, then look instead at Albertine.
Otherwise, from provincial cottage bedroom with twin beds for little ones to modern town-house master bedroom that’s somewhere between classic and contemporary in design, crushed linen works a charm.
A question of origin
France, America, China, Estonia – flax fibres (from which linen yarn is spun) are grown all over the world. So does it really matter from which country it hails or is it all one of the same thing?
The answer is no. Crops vary hugely in quality depending on the soil type, the lay of the land, but more than anything, the climate. Call flax fussy, but it likes fine, fertile clay soil in a setting with mild temperatures and high moisture levels. And try as many territories might to mimic these conditions, it’s Belgium that’s heralded as producing the finest flax in the land. Linen that is grown here is generally agreed to be the crème de la crème – you know your bed linen is going to be woven from the plants that yield the longest flax fibres responsible for the softest, strongest linen. Much like the chocolate, Belgian is best.
When it comes to weaving and finishing our Edith bed linen though, it’s to another European country we turn. Much like the Belgians are justly renowned for growing the finest linen, so are the Portuguese famous for making the finest bedding. It’s a craft that they too, have been refining for decades, and now the words ‘Made in Portugal’ are a hallmark of a beautiful night’s sleep.
Not just a fair-weather option
And one final word to say about crushed linen bedding like Edith and Ardel, is that another big part of what makes it such a beautiful textile to have in the home, is that it works wonder well beyond summer.
Being a natural fibre with no other man-made additions added in to stabilise it (it just doesn’t need it), it’s incredible breathable. That’s what makes it your cool-aid in summer. But it’s also more than capable of keeping you snug as a bug when winter eventually rolls around. Flax fibres are hollow, ergo they’re born-ready insulators too. Plus, the weave is looser in linen than in cotton due to the longer flax fibres, which helps your body to regulate its temperature, keeping warm air in when you need it most and sending it on its merry way in times like these (scorchers).
So, meet crushed linen, your new cool, classic, comfortable and constant companion.