Linen is the world's oldest fabric. It is strong, yet lightweight and cool to wear. It has always been popular in the hotter climates of Asia and Europe, but its tendency to wrinkle has limited its popularity in North America.
The term "linen" can prove confusing: it can refer to the fabric or the weave or it can refer to all table fabrics (table linens) and traditionally it was the word used for all undergarments!
Linen gets softer with laundering and age.
It is the twice as strong as cotton.
It tends to be a smooth fibre, yielding lint-free fabrics.
Creamy white to light tan, this fiber can be easily dyed and the color does not fade when washed.
Highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat, this fabric is cool in garments.
Linen wrinkles easily and irons easily as well.
Fabric manufacturers apply a baked-on resin to linen to quell the wrinkling issue.
Some manufacturers age the linen , noting that older linens do not wrinkle as easily.
- Pre-wash your linen fabric as linen shrinks. Some treated linens claim to be pre-shrunk but why trust that?
- Linen requires few special notions for sewing (universal needle gauged by the weight of the fabric) and polyester or cotton thread
- It is easy to cut with scissors or a rotary wheel
- Linen fabrics show their weave and so finding the grain is easy.
- It can be tricky to keep track of the right side of the fabric, so use safety pins to mark the right side.
- Do not use erasable pens to mark linen; it can be easily damaged by these and by colored chalk and wax. White chalk, pins, and clipping the fabric are good ways to mark linen.
- Linen shows off every seam, curve, and detail, so it's perfect for patterns with interesting seams, shaping, and surface details, such as pintucks, stand-up collars, welt pockets, gussets, contour waistbands, stitched hems, and the like.
- When adding pleats or pintucks, make sure you are folding on the length-wise or cross-wise grain.
- Wear can show up in collars, hems, and any area that is iron creased during the laundering. Linen has poor elasticity and does not spring back readily.
- Top-stitching is common on linen garments, so you may have to tweak your sewing machine tension
- Finish seams by pinking the edges or binding them. Pinking is easiest for beginners. It is less time consuming than most methods and it is a classic finish.
- Embroidery works well on linen fabric.
Ironing Your Linen Fabric:
- Linen can develop a shine if ironed at too high a temperature, so use a press cloth as a buffer or iron on the wrong side of the fabric.
- A hot iron can shrink linen fabric - so please, pre-wash that fabric.
- Use a steam iron if possible. Linen presses easily with heat and moisture.
- You can starch linens if you want to hold a shape on a small area, like a collar.
Linen weave is actually a plain weave, but it is usually considered to have some slubs, a common characteristic of linen yarn. There are also linen finishes (sizings, etc.) that can be applied to cotton to make it seem more linen-like.
Lawn can be made from cotton or linen. It is a lightweight fabric that is suitable for dresses, dress shirts and other clothing.
Butcher’s Linen Fabric was originally a heavy, sturdy linen fabric used for French butchers’ aprons. This type of heavy fabric was also used for interfacing.
Damask is a jacquard weave fabric. It has a reversable design woven into the fabric on jacquard looms. It can be made from many different fibers including linen.
Irish Linen is a brand name. It must be made in Ireland in order to bear that name. Irish lawn (a fine plain weave linen) must also be made in Ireland to have "Irish" in front of the lawn.
Venise is a very fine damask table linen fabric consisting of large floral patterns. Venise linen is specially used for pillow covers, bed covers and table linens. It is very ornate, and very fine linen that dates back to the Italian aristocracy.