Thursday, July 12, 2007

Linen is One of My Favorite Fabrics

There are some fabrics I will always buy. Even if they aren't on sale! They are staples in my fabric closet and in my wardrobe. Linen is one of these and it is my favorite summer fabric to sew and wear. I know a lot of people like cotton but I love linen. It is cool to wear. It comes in amazing colors and prints. It's easy to sew. It's cool to wear....*LOL*

In my previous work place, I used linen a lot for skirts and dresses but I always washed it first. Now, why did I wash it??? To reduce the wrinkling factor and to give it a smoother hand and the ability to drape better. My usual method is to wash the linen 3x in the hottest water and then dry it 3x on the hottest setting. Once it has gone through this process, I then put it on my ironing board, get out a spritz bottle full of water, fill my iron up and set it on its hottest setting. I then spritz the linen and press the mess out of it. Finally cut and sew. Now when I do the washed linen thing, there is an entire day of prep work involved and I usually do several pieces of fabric at one time.

This very labor intensive prep work pays off. Garments made after being subjected to this process still wrinkle but the wrinkles are not as deep and fall out easily. The linen also loses any finishing agents that have been added to it and will also lose some color and sheen. The garments that are made using this process are usually very relaxed, non-tailored gear. And the process allows the items to be wash and wear.

However, I now work in a more tailored environment. The wash and wear linen look just ain't cutting it unless it's a Friday. And most of the garments I make now are dry clean only. After putting linings and alot of internal structure into a piece, I don't want to lose that work in the wash. So this long behind explanation brings us to why I don't want to wash the last linen dress I made or the new one I'm about to make.

If I had realized that the linen used for the bottom of the dress would hold the wrinkles as tightly as it did, I definitely would have added the silk organza to the bottom of the dress during the construction phase. I had time and I wasn't trying to be lazy or rush the project. I just didn't think it was necessary. Well, I now know better!

I would like to thank everyone for their thoughtful suggestions on what to do with the linen for the next dress. I have to admit that Summerset's suggestion about using the cotton batiste as a separate liner is a very intriguing thought and one that I am giving careful consideration to. I would also like to thank everyone for confirming for me that the three layers won't be too hot. For someone who is starting to have her own "personal summers," heat awareness is key!

I haven't quite decided what to do next and I might even skip this dress for now and work on the pantsuit. I am getting a little bored with my TNT dress pattern and think I want to explore some new patterns. Since I have several on my list, I think I am ready for the challenge. So stay tuned...'cause I really have no idea about what's coming out of my sewing area next.

For all those linen afficiendos out there, Fashions Fabric Club is having an amazing end of the summer sale on should surf on by and check it out here.

Cidell & Vicki ~ I hope I answered your questions...and thanks again everyone for your comments, suggestions and thoughts!


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I, too, was wondering the washing vs. non-washing of linen fabric from your last post. This was especially useful because I plan on starting some linen pants - and going for the casual look. May I ask, do you do a complete wash then dry x3 or do you wash three times consecutively then dry three times consecutively?

  2. Thanks for this post!!!!!!! I too love linen! Its perfect for hot Alabama summers!!!

  3. Marisa - I should have been clearer...wash and then dry and I perform the process 3x.

  4. Thanks for your eloquent explanation. I agree with you. I'm a linen lover in a tailored environment too and will always wear it. For lined skirts and dresses I wash my linen and ambience lining on a gentle/hand, cool wash and hang it to dry. That way I can iron the skirt/dress and use sizing. I find that my wrinkles are not so bad. I will try underlining it with the silk organza. I've just decided that it's linen, it wrinkles, and I look good in it. Good luck!!

  5. Very helpful info on Linen... I haven't dabbled with it yet and look forward to and using your technique.

  6. Thanks for considering my idea! I thought it should be something to consider. I tend wear a lot of layers here in New England, so it just made sense to me.

  7. Thanks Carolyn, excellent explaination. Now I understand!

  8. Lovely stack of linen.
    I'm watching with interest to see how it works to line with the batiste. If you wear hose all the time it'll probably slide well enough, but for me, I'm a serious die-hard fan of chinasilk for lining. It slides over the hip and butt.


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