Monday, June 18, 2018

Let's Talk Linen

We loved the response to our rayon blog post, so we wanted to make a similar post about one of our absolute favorite fabrics—linen! There are so many reasons to love linen. It's a natural fiber, it drapes beautifully, it has great texture, and it becomes amazingly soft with washing and wearing. And of course, it makes gorgeous garments!

Linen is made from flax plants and may be one of the oldest textiles in the world. Cloth made from wild flax was found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia and determined to be over 30,000 years old, and Egyptian mummies were often wrapped in linen. That we even know these things demonstrates the strength of flax fiber—linen shrouds have been found perfectly preserved after thousands of years!

These days, high-quality flax is grown in Europe and the linen is produced in many countries like Lithuania, Poland, France, China, Austria, and Germany. Some of the highest quality linen is made in Ireland, Italy, and Belgium. Our Nevada Linens are made in Ireland, where there is a long history of linen production. But like many fabrics, the linen chain of production is not centered in one area. The flax may be grown in one country, spun into yarn in another, and woven into fabric in another.

Just a few of the many colors of our Nevada Linen!
Though linen is not as misunderstood as some fabrics (like rayon), there are still some misconceptions about the fabric. Yes, linen can be very wrinkly, but it doesn't have to be! Our friend and local instructor Sandra Betzina has a great tip about how to pretreat linen so that it has lovely soft wrinkles instead of hard creases you need to tackle with your iron.

Before you preshrink, set a wrinkle-less finish by ironing the linen with the hottest dry iron possible. Next, wash (with a little detergent) and dry in the hottest water and highest heat setting you have. Take it out of the dryer when close to bone dry. You will notice that smaller softer wrinkles have replaced the hard crease usually associated with the fabric.


Here's an example from Fabric Lady's blog post about her favorite lightweight jackets. On the left is the linen before washing and on the right is after washing and drying according to Sandra's tip. Creased and somewhat stiff linen becomes soft, beautiful, and ready to become garments! 


Another misconception is that linen can't be washed because it is too delicate or it will shrink. Though it is true that linen will shrink like most natural fibers, this doesn't mean it can't be washed. Following Sandra Betzina's tip above will also preshrink your fabric so that you can later wash it without worry. After pretreating, we like to follow the general rule of washing linen garments on cold and line drying. Regularly using less heat will keep your fabric in better condition longer, but regular washing will make linen wonderfully soft over time.

So What Can You Make?


Let's get to the fun part—sewing! Linen can have a bit of a reputation for being a home dec fabric, but it's not just for curtains and napkins anymore. At Stonemountain, we've used linen to make dresses, tops, jackets, pants, overalls, skirts—pretty much every garment you can think of. And because linen comes in so many different weights, you can find a linen to use for any project. Here are some of our favorite garments to sew in linen.

Dresses


A linen dress is a dream in hot weather! It will help you stay cool while looking so chic.

The Farrow Dress by Grainline Studio has one of our favorite dress features: big pockets!
The new Myosotis dress by Deer & Doe has a super cute silhouette, especially for summer. 
The Tea House Dress by Sew House Seven is a favorite around here. It looks good on everyone!
This natural Linen Twill is beautifully understated and has a soft, washed feel. The twill texture gives it a subtle sheen.
Printed 100% linen is less common than solid colors, which makes this digitally printed linen even more special.
Nothing says summer quite like gingham! This Italian linen mini gingham strikes the perfect balance between fun and sophisticated.


Jackets


When you need just a light layer, a linen jacket is the perfect thing.










Pants & Overalls


Linen pants can be like secret pajamas! They're soft and floaty, perfect for when you don't want to wear jeans.






Of course, this is just a small taste of the many, many different garments you can make with linen. Linen can be used for any pattern that calls for woven fabric—the trick is just in figuring out the right type and weight for your project. Whether this is your first time working with linen or your hundredth, we're always happy to help you find the perfect fabric.

So what do you think? Is linen on your list for summer sewing?

8 comments:

  1. Another secret to linen. I learned in a sewing seminar to try cutting the fabric on the bias to cut down wrinkles. Now I do all my dresses that way, even if I only cut the front skirt or front pants on the bias. The wrinkles want to happen along the grain of the fabric. But, sitting in a car with a seat belt in a bias cut dress produces almost NO wrinkling. Lovely. My absolute favorite fabric!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, what an amazing tip! I have done linen on the bias and it does drape so nicely with less wrinkles!

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  2. I have a lot of textile bought from MagicLinen (I'm sure you know this brand), and didn't know how to iron it. Thank you, girls, for tips!

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  6. Can these same ironing and washing tips be used on linen/rayon blends?

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