Monthly Archives: May 2018

  • Fabric Facts: Essential Tips for Sewing with Linen

    With the Bank Holiday weekend upon us, and the start of June next week, we think it is safe to say that we are all ready to welcome the summer months. A perfect fabric for warmer weather is Linen - as a natural fibre it is breathable and has wicking properties, it also is stronger than cotton, naturally repels stains and is quick drying. Yes, it does crease but the wrinkles are part of the charm of this relaxed fabric, honest!

     

    Linen is an ancient fabric, older than cotton and silk, made from flax plants which have been grown for many thousands of years. It is a laborious manufacture process* but actually uses less water and energy than most other crops, so is more ecologically friendly. Flax only takes 100 days to grow to maturity, needs no fertiliser and actually does improves the soil as it grows. The whole plant is used, roots as well, so there is little waste and the fabric is biodegradable once the garment has come to the end of its usable life.

    Generally, it is a very stable fabric so is easy to work with as long as you keep some things in mind:

    SHRINKAGE:

    Linen does shrink - a lot! Most of the linen we sell is pre-washed so won't shrink and will just get softer each time it is washed. However, if your fabric hasn't been treated before purchase then prewashing is a must. As always, the advice is to treat the uncut cloth as you intend to treat the garment once it's finished. We recommend a cool gentle wash, and to press whilst still slightly damp using a press cloth to prevent scorching. Some people suggest prewashing up to 3 times to make the fabric really supple, however, the first wash alone will deal with the shrinkage.

     

    TYPE OF LINEN:

    Like many fabrics, linen comes in a whole array of weights and textures, each suitable for different projects. As a rough guide, lightweight linen (often called Handkerchief weight) is ideal for summer dresses, tops and children's clothes. Mediumweight linen can be used for trousers, skirts and shirts, while heavier weight is great for more tailored items such as suits and jackets, or for home furnishings. Linen can also be blended with cotton, or sometimes silk to produce a mixed fabric, with the properties of both. Linen-cotton mixes usually are less prone to creasing and can have more drape.  We also stock a gorgeous range of laundered linens (from Merchant & Mills) which have been enzyme washed to create a wonderfully soft fabric.

    FRAYING:

    Linen does have a tendency to fray - a lot! Pinking shears, or even a pinking wheel on your rotary cutter, are the easiest way to deal with fraying hems while you work. Hems will need to be treated in order for your garment to last and look it's best and although you can use a zig zag stitch, or a serger to keep seams from fraying, Flat Felled or French seams will give you a very professional and secure finish. You could also use the Hong Kong finish for more tailored items such as jackets.

    NEEDLES & THREAD:

    Linen doesn't need a specific needle so a universal one will work well. Good practice is to always start any new project with a new sharp needle. Linen will sew equally well with any thread.

     

    We stock a wide range of linens, suitable for a whole variety of projects. You can browse our full range online here, order a linen swatch pack before you buy or pop into the shop to have a chat and a feel for yourself.

     

     

    *To watch an informative video detailing the process of making Linen, click here.