Thursday, January 3, 2013

We Love Linen (Find out why!)

We love linen*. From place mats and napkins to aprons or flow-y blouses, linen makes everything seem a little more elegant. And wrinkly. But whatever. We’ll save that second point for later.

Sewing with Linen
Linen is a fabulous fabric to sew with and will make anything a bit more refined. It comes in many different weights from the fine [read: handkerchief] variety, to medium and upholstery. It hangs best when cut on the bias and the raw fabric will shrink the first time you wash it (care instructions below).

The most notable thing to remember when using linen is that raw edges fray like mad. And like any good sewer, you’ll want to stop that from happening. You can do a few things to counteract the fray: finish raw edges the second you’ve cut them, use extra seam allowances or, use a fancy (but easy-enough) bound hem. Before you start cutting linen, remember to choose one of these fray-stopping techniques - whichever one will best suit your needs.

Caring for Linen
Linen has been around a loooong time - we’re talking thousands of years BC and many consider it to be the oldest natural fiber. It’s a remarkably strong fabric made from the flax or linseed plant and we can safely say that it’s so strong, you don’t even have to dry clean it as most people think. That said, we always advocate washing your fabric to the manufacturer specifications, but still... if a linen something-or-other accidentally ends up in the washing machine, it’s probably going to be okay.

So, how do you wash your lovely linen items? We like the “hand wash” setting on your machine, with “cool” or “cold” water. As a rule of thumb, we use Woolite on anything that we consider special, and linen falls under this category. To dry this fabric, you can hang it or lay it flat. Or, you can dry your linen items in your dryer. If you do this, make sure to use a “cool” setting and then stop your dryer while the linen is still damp, because...

Some people think that linen should be wrinkle-free. Others love the look of a the oft-creased style of linen. Either way, you don’t want them to be too wrinkled, but let’s just put it out there that a few wrinkles look nice. But in case you’re fabric looks like it just rolled out of bed, here are a few tips:
- take the fabric out of the dryer while still damp and then hang it up or lay it flat to finish
- if you really need to iron linen, do it when it’s still damp and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle
- if you have a dried linen piece and need to iron it, use the steamiest setting you’ve got

All of your linen pieces are going to become softer and lovelier with continued use and washing, and since it’s so strong, you’ll get to see the beauty of that process for years to come.

Okay, crafters! Get out there and make some linen magic happen (and send pics to contact {at} We’d love to feature your work on our blog!

*An Atlanta designer and author of I Love Patchwork and Zakka Style, Rashida Coleman Hale also loves linen! Check out her blog at I Heart Linen.

No comments:

Post a Comment