Sometimes confused with linen because of its appearance, muslin is generally much softer to touch. It’s a breathable and finely-woven fabric made from cotton that is gentle on the skin.
What’s the difference between muslin and cotton?
Check a handful of your favourite jeans and Tees in the wardrobe and you’ll notice many of them contain cotton. Cotton in this form is usually tightly woven and dense. Typically too you’ll find most of your sheets and towels are made with cotton to some degree.
By comparison, muslin is like wrapping yourself up in a cloud. It even floats like a cloud it’s so light. Super soft and supple, the fabric was once referred to as mousseline for it’s foam-like feel (more on that below). The gentle touch of muslin makes it the perfect baby wrap or cot sheet fabric for newborns and children as it's snuggly and doesn't scratch against their sensitive skin.
Is muslin only ever made from cotton?
We only ever use 100% certified organic cotton muslin for our products but it's not the only way muslin can be sold. In India and Bangladesh for example, muslin silk sarees are popular among women. Woven from premium silk grown in Bengal, they are silky to touch and ultra light. Although muslin can be blended with other fabrics, pure cotton muslin is the typical fabric you’ll find on the western market today.
Where did muslin get its name?
Some say the name came from Marco Polo's description of the cotton trade in Mosul (now a city of Iraq). But the more modern idea is that of fashion historian Susan Greene, who wrote that the name arose in the 18th century from mousse, the French word for ‘foam’, and later referred to as mousseline.
History is arguably unclear on the origins of muslin too.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says the earliest version of the fabric came from Mosul, Iraq where it got the name ‘muslin’. Other historians note that the fabric was invented in Ducca (now Dhaka), Bangladesh where the fabric, called mul mul by Bangali’s, was highly famed in the region.
What’s the difference between muslin and linen?
Some people think ‘linen muslin’ is a thing but it’s not! Muslin and linen are two completely separate fabrics and are not typically blended. If you find a website using both words to describe one product, read carefully. It’s probably just a linen-esk brand name or colour.
Muslin (as we now know) is made from cotton. Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is a natural fiber like cotton, but it takes longer to harvest and make into fabric.
The two have pros and cons depending on their uses and production processes - organic muslin (obviously) being perfect for our snuggly earth wraps and cot sheets. Ultimately both are fabrics we love here at Taninaka HQ for their varying sustainability benefits.