Many of the first clothes in the prehistoric times were made of linen fibers. Flax plants (the main source of linen material) flourish in the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
The first garment manufacturers discovered that if flax was soaked in water for a considerate period of time, the external vapor was removed, leaving the inner long soft fibers beneath those that could be woven into the fabric.
The finer fibers were used to create white fabric for tunics and fabrics. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in this thin linen. Coarse fibers are woven into boat sails and cloth for seed bags. When the Romans conquered Egypt, linen began to be dyed in vivid colors. The Romans spread the use of sails throughout Europe and had factories built to keep up with the demand for linen for their armies.
It was during the 17th century that the beautiful Irish linen industry was founded to avoid competition with English wool fabrics. The first settlers in America brought flax seeds into the New World so that they could produce yarn and linen fabrics.
Linen was the predominant fabric until the mid-1800s when cotton production flourished in the southern states.
Linen is still grown throughout Europe, but there is no current commercial production of linen fabrics in the United States. Most of our fabric is imported from Spain and Lithuania, with many considering their linen production as the highest quality.