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The Words You Need to Know When Choosing Linen


Browsing for linen and baffled by words like 'huckaback' and 'thread count'? Don't know your stonewash from your garment wash? Never fear, Linenbeauty is here to set you straight and guide you through the sometimes complicated business of choosing linen products. Here are the key terms you might come across, and what you need to know to make the right choice.


LinenMe Rosa stonewashed bed linen

Stonewashed linens

This massive trend shows no sign of abating, and with good reason. Stonewashed linens are soft, hang beautifully and have a charming fade to the colour. This is achieved through the process of washing the fabric in large machines with pumice or volcanic stones (usually) inside that bash and tumble the fabric's fibres. As the weave loosens the fabric becomes more supple and soft, giving it that gorgeous drape and informal finish that we all love so much. There are alternative washes using enzymes in place of stones to prevent possible damage to the fabric. But a good manufacturer producing top quality fabrics will ensure their products are in top condition. This is one case where the old adage 'Buy cheap, buy twice' really does apply. Invest in some great quality stonewashed linens and they will last a lifetime.

Huckaback towels

LinenMe Huckaback Towels

Named after the Medieval pedlars who used to carry their linens on their backs as they traveled between markets, the huckaback weave has been an enduringly popular finish. Usually used to make bathroom towels, this traditional weave produces an uneven surface in a honeycomb pattern. This adds volume to the fabric, which in turn makes it even more absorbent. Huckaback linens are also very quick-drying, compact and lightweight, making them the perfect choice for traveling or everyday use. A gentle yet firm rub with one of these will exfoliate your skin and bring the blood to the surface, giving you a bit of a boost to get you through the day. No wonder people have loved the huckaback for centuries.

Mélange weave

LinenMe Decorative Cushion Covers Melange Weave

The mélange weave refers to the combination of different coloured fibres. When woven together this produces a lovely blend of tones, often with flecks through the fabric. These cushions from LinenMe show this beautifully - it's a fabulous, subtle way of introducing variations in colour and adding texture to your linens.

Pre-washed / garment washed

This simply means that a fabric or product has been washed in order to prevent further shrinkage and to make the fibres as soft as possible. Also known as garment washed, these linens won't need lots of washing before you use them, so you are good to go.


This rather baffling term is used describing fabric produced on specialist looms that are able to weave tiny geometric patterns. The effect can be delicate and feminine, especially when used on nightwear and lighter-weight garments, like dressess.

Thread Count

You may think that thread count is the surest measure of luxury, top quality fabric. Think again. Sure, easing between crisp Egyptian cotton sheets is guaranteed to make you feel pampered, but do they really merit being ranked above other fabrics? Thread count is a measurement of the number of threads used in a certain area. And rather than correlating directly with quality (high thread count = high quality), it is more an indication of how that fabric will feel. Linen, which we all know is a top quality, luxurious fabric. In fact has a rather low thread count (around 50). This doesn't reflect its quality, just the fact that flax fibres are thicker than those in other fabrics, and therefore there are fewer per inch. So, don't get hung up on thread count. Yes, it can mean great quality, but it's not the only thing to consider. Instead, make sure you buy your linens from a quality manufacturer who takes pride in their products.

Any other fabric-related jargon you want us to bust? Leave a comment below and we will help you choose the right bedlinen, kitchen linen or bathroom towels for you.

And if you want to read more about the miraculous flax and how it turns from flower to flat sheet, read on.

Disclosure: We sometimes work with affiliate partners to bring you beautiful products we think you will love. We will only work with brands that share our ethos and fit with our aesthetic. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Linenbeauty.

Dio Marsaille

It sure was lovely when you mentioned that melange weave and how it uses a combination of different colored fibers to produce a lovely blended tone when finished. My brother will surely love this linen for his birthday since he loves several different colors at the same time. He made it clear that, for his birthday, he wants to see those colors. I think this is the only way we can make that happen. Hopefully, rentals have them.

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I'm Inga and this is a space where I celebrate simple, slow living. It's a place to be curious and creative, to share ideas on how to live and work sustainably and mindfully. Being the creative force behind I also write about my love for linen and natural fabrics. Linenbeauty weaves inspiring stories of slow living with interior style features, travel and cookery tips and outfit ideas. Thanks so much for stopping by.