Linen is a naturally smooth fabric, resistant to lint, highly breathable, drys quickly and is absorbent and hypoallergenic. Linen is a very stable fiber and does not have elastic capabilities, it is an amazing quality from the point of view that quality linen clothing with never loose its shape or stretch - no other natural fiber can boast this!
When selecting linen, particularly with linens popularity increasing due to its earth friendly and natural properties, it is good to know cheap linen vs quality linen.
Quality Linen Is Not Itchy or Scratchy
The biggest tell tail to cheap linen is that it will feel itchy and scratchy. Quality linen is always comfortable on the skin and becomes naturally soft and silky with wash and wear. If linen feels rough or scratchy it is because it is made from a lesser shorter linen fiber of low quality. It may also feel not as sturdy or strong and will be prone to easily tearing and feel 'weak' when pulled.
Watch Out For Existing Folds
Check for points of wear in existing folds, at the same time however if linen is displaying lack or no natural creases, and remains suspiciously crinkle free, it is likely a cheap blend of linen.
Check For Weaving Errors
Look at the consistency and quality of weave. Do not worry about the lack or presence of 'slubs' (a combination of thinner and thicker threads) they are almost always intentionally included in order to keep the fibers intact and creates a 'natural linen' textural look. Very fine linen will likely have no slubs as they will have uniformity of much finer fibers of a consistent diameter.
Consistency of Colour
The colour should be even throughout the fabric. Linen is very difficult to dye so you can usually easily tell if corners have been cut or if the fabric appears to have any yellowing or un-uniform colour.
Identify Country Of Origin
European linen, particularly that from Belgium, Ireland and Italy is amongst the worlds most highly regarded quality linen. It really is a fabric where you do get exactly what you pay for.