The Linen Process

The history of the Irish linen Mills and their factory workers is woven into the fabric of Belfast and its key role in industrialisation. Local flax cultivation and government support meant linen remained one of Ireland’s main exports for centuries. From the 1700s ‘Linenopolis’ (as this part of Belfast was known) grew to be one of the largest linen producers in the world, employing an estimated 90,000 hard-working local women (dubbed ‘Millies’) and accounting for more than half of Ireland’s entire linen production.

Setting Up Loom

From flax to fabric

Quality linen is an expensive and time-consuming cloth to produce. Weaving a durable, smooth, high quality, high finish fabric from the stalks of flax plants is a local tradition that demands a high skill level from dedicated craftspeople. Stoker Mills take time to hand craft an authentic product. Our linen’s finish is naturally enhanced by our 'not-so- secret’ washing process. At Stoker Mills our fabrics are softened and shrunk using mineral rich local spring water to obtain the perfect water hardness/softness balance for beautifully washed natural linen.

Our boutique textile service is in high demand by fashion and costume designers who need a textiles collaborator to produce their own shade specific colours. Clients are able to order small quantities from our extensive range or collaborate with us to develop exclusive designs. This allows designers to be completely free and creative.

The advantages of natural linen

With 1,000 years of history behind it, pure Irish linen is considered a superior fabric, noted for its smooth weave, strength and tactile finish. Handcrafted from 100% natural flax, linen is mankind’s oldest woven fabric, dating back over 4000 years. Today natural linen is sourced for its natural breathability, durability, softness to touch and relaxed mood.

Weaving linen is a textile production method which involves interlacing a set of longer threads (called the warp) with a set of crossing threads (called the weft). This is done on a frame or machine known as a loom.

Stoker Mills Irish linen’s relaxed luxurious feel suits a wide variety of applications from homewares and fashion design to the luxury car and yacht markets. We source our flax sustainably and adhere to environmentally friendly practices throughout the production cycle. Flax is an incredibly useful plant that has been around for millions of years:

  • Flax plants are a CO2-neutral raw material, its fibres are biodegradable.
  • It is lightweight and breathable
  • Woven together the strands strengthen – reducing rips and tears
  • Flax plants can be grown without directly competing with food crops.
Linen samples on a desk
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