Here at Only Child, transparency is important to us. We want you to feel as connected to each piece as we do. While each item that we offer is handcrafted by us in our little Oakland studio, the process doesn’t start with us. Our fabric has to come from somewhere and the process it goes through is integral to the story behind each item of clothing.
This Spring we're bringing back linen, one of our favorite textiles to work with and wear. What starts out as a flaxseed is grown, harvested and woven into a beautiful, breathable fabric. It's a favorite of ours to carry us through all forms of weather, not just the hot spring and summer months.
How it's made: The process of creating linen is pretty fascinating. From the sowing of the seeds until harvest, the flax plant needs to grow for 100 days before being hand harvested to keep the stalk intact. Harvesting the linen by hand as opposed to by machine keeps the quality of linen high, as the inner sap isn't lost due to the breaking of the stalk like it is with machine harvesting.
After harvesting linen is brushed over with a coarse comb that removes the leaves and seeds from the plant, a process knows as rippling. Next, the bark is decomposed to remove it from the fibers within, using either water or different compounds in a process called retting. This step is extremely delicate as the worker must be careful to neither under nor overwork the bark, both of which would compromise the quality of the final product. After the fibers get a chance to dry out, they go through a breaking process to remove the inner fibers from the stalks. Once the fibers are reading for spinning, they are fed through a spreader machine for sorting, where the machines lay out the fibers in overlapping rows to get them ready to be turned into thread.
Properties of linen: Linen is known for its durability. The more you wear it the more it improves. The correct washing of linen fabrics can actually strengthen and soften the fibers, making them more comfortable as time passes. Our recommended method of washing is to machine or hand wash in cool water and line dry or tumble dry it on low. One of our favorite qualities of linen is it's chameleon like ability to look relaxed and casual or clean and streamlined with one quick ironing. We love the easy look of a rumpled linen but it can also be pressed to a crisp finish with a warm iron as desired.
Linen has a high heat and air permeability, the heat conductivity of linen is five times higher than wool and 19 times higher than silk. Because linen does not hold on to moisture easily, it keeps you cool in the heat and prevents unwanted perspiration with its breathability. However, the versatility of linen goes far beyond just those scorching Summer months. Our linen is heavy woven, so while it regulates temperature in the Summer to keep you cool, it also makes for a great transitional fabric to carry you through Fall as well!