Linen Sewing Fabric –
For Luxury and Comfort
Picture a slightly wrinkled white linen fabric suit worn by a distinguished southern gentleman drinking mint juleps on the columned porch of Tara. Or perhaps you’ve heard tales of Irish handkerchiefs or tablecloths handed down from generation to generation. But this fiber has been around a lot longer than even the fabric fragments found in Egyptian tombs.
You know those flax seeds you’re supposed to be sprinkling on your oatmeal and touted by all the health nuts? That’s where linen, the oldest natural cellulose fiber, comes from. It is a wonderfully ecologically correct plant when it grows; – it takes only 100 days, and needs very few pesticides and fertilizers.
The Fiber of Many Uses
When fully grown, it is uprooted, the seeds are removed, and the stalks are placed in standing pyramids to dry. The processing includes retting and turning (exposing to moisture), which takes several weeks. Then the fibers are stripped from the stalks and separated into tow (the short fibers) and line (the longest fibers) The line, up to 36 inches long, is used for weaving the final fabric.
Every part of the plant is used for something - thread is used in surgery, elegant stationery is made from the byproducts, flax seed oil for dyes and paints, and even floor coverings.
From Plant to Fabric
This wonderful fabric comes in a variety of weights, and is usually worn during the spring and summer because of its absorbency and stain resistance. It is naturally antibacterial
and hypoallergenic, so it’s a great fabric for those who say they are allergic.
If you don’t like the feel of the fabric on the bolt – like it is a bit stiff and heavy – you should make sure you prewash it. The more it gets washed, the softer it will get (and it will wrinkle less too!). Of course, if you like the stiffness, then pre-steam before sewing, and dry clean after the garment is made to maintain that crisp feel.
Cutting and Sewing
This fabric is simple to cut and sew. It doesn’t stretch, and it is easy to layout because it isn’t slippery like
It is best to use a “with nap” layout, just because of the texture. It does ravel easily, so make sure when you are sewing that you plan to finish all the seams with a serger, binding or zigzag and pinking. Pressing with a press cloth will prevent the fabric from developing an unwanted shine.
Here's an article about
bamboo, and how it compares to linen.
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