Linen is made from flax plants, which take about three months to mature. The plant is a slender annual with delicate blue flowers. When the flowers have died, the seed heads appear and the plants are ready to be harvested. Bundles of flax stems were grasped and pulled, rather than cut, out of the ground. After the plants had dried, the seed heads were removed, either by rippling, which is removing by hand, or by combing with a long, toothed board, called the rippling comb. Exposure to water or to dew and sunlight loosened the fibers within the plant stems, in a process known as "retting." After washing, drying, beating, and combing, the fibers were ready for spinning.
Flax was not the only textile fiber in use. Textiles have also been found that were made from sheep's wool, goat hair, palm fibers, grass, and reeds.
Several examples of goat-hair textiles were excavated at the mid-fourteenth century BC workmen's village at Tell el-Amarna. Goat-hair textiles have also been excavated at other ancient sites.
Animal fibers did not have the same importance for making cloth because the wool of that time was not suitable for spinning. The Ancient Egyptians also believed that wool was unclean and used it only as outer garments that were left outside temples.
Palm fiber is made from the bark of various types of palm trees and was used to make ropes since ancient times.
Palm fiber textiles are not commonly found, but at Tell el-Amarna one piece of fabric had a series of palm-fiber loops woven into it.
Grass and reeds were typically used for matting. It is possible that they were also used for textiles, although this is not certain .