Linen or Not?

Linen or Not?

We’re getting ready to re-stock our linen page in the web store.  What do you think of 100% linen for spring/summer sewing?  I have this dilemma each year as the spring market heats up.  All my suppliers are pushing linens.  Ready to wear uses them extensively, but sometimes our customers shy away from the all-linen offerings. 

Personally, I’m a huge fan of linen.  I love to sew with it. Similar to wool, it listens to what I say!  If I want a hard crease, I can get it.  If I want to roll the collar, I can get that too. Welt pockets–perfect!   Comfortable–oh yeah!  I love the cozy, feel of linen next to my body on hot days.  I absolutely prefer it to cotton in the summer.

BUT, there is the wrinkle issue.  I put up with the wrinkles for the other benefits, but I know many people feel just the opposite. Wrinkles can be tamed a bit.  My favorite method is to tenderize the fabric by pre-washing 4 or 5 times before sewing.  This softens the individual yarns and makes the creases less crisp (unless you want them to be crisp, then you steam press).  The result is a washed hand and a softly rumpled look. Another popular method to control the wrinkle factor is underlining with silk organza.  I choose linen suits a lot from ready-to-wear and make linen pants and dresses when I can. 

As promised in my previous posts, below I’ve added some links to the web store for linens….much more to come in the next few weeks. Watch for several wonderful embellished selections coming that are perfect for summer fashion statements!  More on those later… 

Right now I have a lot of samples on my desk of pure linen in a variety of colors and weights.  I’d love to know what you think…please comment below.  Thanks!

In stock Linen

We already have some wonderful linen/Lycra blends in stock in pretty spring colors -blue and rose with yellow, white and ginger coming soon. We also carry rayon/linen blends, cotton/linen, linen/cotton and silk/linen. You’l find many options in the Back Room also.

16 Responses to “Linen or Not?”

  1. Pat

    2007-02-03T01:06:00+00:00

    I’ve never sewn with 100% linen because I don’t like wrinkles. Do you know if fusing an entire Jacket with Fusi-Knit or similar knit interfacing will help?

  2. Pat

    2007-02-02T20:06:11+00:00

    I’ve never sewn with 100% linen because I don’t like wrinkles. Do you know if fusing an entire Jacket with Fusi-Knit or similar knit interfacing will help?

  3. Barbara Blom

    2007-02-03T11:07:00+00:00

    I think it depends on the weight of the linen. Underlining with a fusible interfacing on a lightweight would not be successful because you would most likely get strikethrough and it would defeat the purpose of using a lightweight linen. However, a mid to heavy weight linen for suits could respond well to a fused underlining. My preference would be armo weft or feather weft. Although an underlining will cut down on wrinkles, it will not eliminate them. Anyone else have an opinion?

  4. Barbara Blom

    2007-02-03T16:07:00+00:00

    I think it depends on the weight of the linen. Underlining with a fusible interfacing on a lightweight would not be successful because you would most likely get strikethrough and it would defeat the purpose of using a lightweight linen. However, a mid to heavy weight linen for suits could respond well to a fused underlining. My preference would be armo weft or feather weft. Although an underlining will cut down on wrinkles, it will not eliminate them. Anyone else have an opinion?

  5. Marji

    2007-02-06T23:28:00+00:00

    Personally, I love linen. Love working with it and wearing it. It is hard though, to convince students and clients to use it.
    Right now I’m looking at your new pink linen/lycra blend that’s on the website. What does the lycra do to the inherent qualities of the linen?

  6. Marji

    2007-02-06T18:28:36+00:00

    Personally, I love linen. Love working with it and wearing it. It is hard though, to convince students and clients to use it.
    Right now I’m looking at your new pink linen/lycra blend that’s on the website. What does the lycra do to the inherent qualities of the linen?

  7. Marji

    2007-02-06T23:32:00+00:00

    Re Pat’s question. I personally would recommend taking the extra time (it really isn’t much longer than standing at an ironing board fusing) and stitching an underlining of silk organza onto the linen in lieu of using a fusible.
    You will be amazed at what a layer of silk organza will do for the look and durability of your garments.
    And along with Barb, I cannot under any circumstances recommend fusing onto a lightweight linen. I ruined an egyptian cotton trying out a fusible that came highly recommended.

  8. Marji

    2007-02-06T18:32:41+00:00

    Re Pat’s question. I personally would recommend taking the extra time (it really isn’t much longer than standing at an ironing board fusing) and stitching an underlining of silk organza onto the linen in lieu of using a fusible.
    You will be amazed at what a layer of silk organza will do for the look and durability of your garments.
    And along with Barb, I cannot under any circumstances recommend fusing onto a lightweight linen. I ruined an egyptian cotton trying out a fusible that came highly recommended.

  9. Barbara Blom

    2007-02-07T15:57:00+00:00

    The stretch adds bounce to the linen. It actually reduces the wrinkling some, but it does add bounce which means you need to address that when constructing your garment. Sometimes added top stitching helps to control the seams/darts. If that isn’t appropriate for the garment you choose, then careful pressing at each stage of construction should take care of it. The problem isn’t so big that it can’t be overcome, just something you need to be aware of. I made a skirt out of the very first linen/stretch we sold back in the early 90’s. It was one of my favorites! I do suggest lining for bottoms though. The addition of a non-stretch lining such as ambiance stabilizes the linen and helps eliminate with the “butt sprung” look. Would you like a sample to play with? Send me your postal address privately via email and we’ll get one out to you.

  10. Barbara Blom

    2007-02-07T10:57:02+00:00

    The stretch adds bounce to the linen. It actually reduces the wrinkling some, but it does add bounce which means you need to address that when constructing your garment. Sometimes added top stitching helps to control the seams/darts. If that isn’t appropriate for the garment you choose, then careful pressing at each stage of construction should take care of it. The problem isn’t so big that it can’t be overcome, just something you need to be aware of. I made a skirt out of the very first linen/stretch we sold back in the early 90’s. It was one of my favorites! I do suggest lining for bottoms though. The addition of a non-stretch lining such as ambiance stabilizes the linen and helps eliminate with the “butt sprung” look. Would you like a sample to play with? Send me your postal address privately via email and we’ll get one out to you.

  11. Elena

    2007-02-13T21:50:00+00:00

    I’m very conflicted about linen. I don’t like looking like I slept in my clothes. On the other hand, the fabric comes in some beautiful colors or even better, multiple yarn colors in a single piece of fabric. And it is very easy to sew.
    I have a couple RTW linen jackets that do not wrinke badly at all but my own jackets are another story. And no, the knit fusible did NOT do all that much to to reduce the wrinkles. I do still have one piece of linen for a jacket and I may try the multiple washing/silk organza route on that one.

  12. Elena

    2007-02-13T16:50:38+00:00

    I’m very conflicted about linen. I don’t like looking like I slept in my clothes. On the other hand, the fabric comes in some beautiful colors or even better, multiple yarn colors in a single piece of fabric. And it is very easy to sew.
    I have a couple RTW linen jackets that do not wrinke badly at all but my own jackets are another story. And no, the knit fusible did NOT do all that much to to reduce the wrinkles. I do still have one piece of linen for a jacket and I may try the multiple washing/silk organza route on that one.

  13. NOEL MOUNT

    2007-04-09T19:49:00+00:00

    THE FLAX OF LIFE By Martin Raymond
    In love with Linen?
    Lecturer, writer and Lifestyle analyst Martin Raymond comes
    clean about a craving he can no longer keep to himself.
    Linen’s best kept secret lies in its versatility. And in many ways this has also
    been its downfall. There are still too many people who imagine it to be like the
    linen of their youth – tough, papery and never seeing a crease it didn’t like.
    In an age of convenience, linen has become something for the connoisseur; the man
    and woman with patience and perserverance and a very hot iron.
    Those of us who know, however, know better. Linen has long since passed
    through its ‘crease and be damned’ phase to become something far more elegant and exquisite. On the catwalks, for
    instance, I’m forever being confronted with futuristic fabrics that shimmer and sheen like iridescent beetle wings; that
    repel water like Teflon; shout colour with all the resonance and brashness of a Gary Hume painting; only to find that
    the fabric in question is linen.
    Gentle, classic designers such a John Rocha, Paul Smith and Jasper Conran love it for its whispering traditions;
    directional, art house names such as Rei Kawakubo, Miyake and Raf Simons for its to ability to absorb new colours,
    finishes, textures and properties that make it a fabric every bit as wondrous as the one worn by Alec Guinness in the
    Ealing film classic The Man in the White Suit.
    Linen to mainstream and avant garde designers is as much about the future as it is about tradition and tropical
    fashions. The worlds mills have long since listened to the voice of the hard-pressed businesswoman, or the man too
    much in a rush to bother with his Corby trouser press, and given them tomorrow’s new fangled technologies today.
    Linen that can be machine washed, tumble dried, coated with silicon or mixed with jersey, viscose, Tactel, Tencel, silk
    or hemp to improve performance, durability or drape. Indeed, new generations of linen can cling to the body with a fit
    that’s every bit as smooth and sensual as the naughtiest of bias-cut dresses.
    Even raw, unadulterated linen – fashion’s latest love affair – comes with added extras attached. Or rather embedded
    into the very fibres of the fabric itself. Enzymes that caress, comfort and soothe the garment long after you’ve bought
    it, so it continues to remain peachy soft, as malleable and easy on the skin as the softest of velvets.
    But how does it iron I hear you say? Like a dream, thanks to the minute amounts of liquid ammonia weavers have
    begun to add at the manufacturing stage, so that the fibres remain pliable and loose – a happy laboratory accident
    that has made linen as easy to iron as cotton.
    All this, of course, is for linen lightweights. The true connoisseur, like the true addict, will have nothing less than the
    full strength, unadulterated linen to satisfy his or her craving. For linen is the Cristal of all fabrics and once tasted it
    is hard to go back. I recall meeting a friend on the better end of the Rue Faubourg St Honoré, who, when she sniffed
    at my suit, declared to all and sundry, ‘Aaah the flax, the flax,’ before launching into meandering, but highly charged
    reminiscences of her youth. T’was the smell that done it your honour!
    For linen has such a bouquet to it, the smell of freshness and light, of grassy meadows and warm sun-kissed afternoons, of haystacks and
    Hey Jude nostalgia that quickens the heart and alarms the senses.
    So feral and full is linen’s bouquet that bespoke fragrance designers such as Jo Malone have actually bottled it, while retail psychologists, well
    versed in the Magick arts of making us buy more, pump linen and flax smells through the air conditioning of department stores to remind us
    that they are places of bygone luxuries and never-to-be-experienced-again pampering.
    And linen assuredly does this. It is the fabric of kings. Used to clothe Pharaohs on their thrones and comfort them in their tombs – 1000
    metres of linen was needed to wrap the average mummy! At Versailles it was held in such high esteem that only the king and his queen could
    own their own linen sheets, tablecloths and boudoir sundries; all other courtiers were forced to rent them on the grounds that only kings could
    possess such a royal fabric!
    But if linen was about possession and privilege, it was also about hope, love and the bridal trousseau. For what woman from the middle ages
    onwards would marry or move house without her linen or ‘hope chest’ as it was also called? And what woman didn’t understand linen’s true
    value?
    Then as now, lives and loves were likely to change, and the woman that had her trousseau, had her means and method of escape when the
    going got tough and the tough needed to get going.
    Linen with its embroidery, batiste work, its gold trimming and lace overlays, was currency that never lost its value. It could be paned off
    during hard times, or used to finance good ones. Hence all that elaborate needle-work and fine artistry by women not only biding their time for
    Mr Right, but Clevery and soberly hedging their bets if Mr Right went Wrong.
    Linen, however, is one love you never grow tired of. Especially if you discover it in humid climes and tropical downpours. Science may give us
    neoprenes and kevlars, Coolmax, and Supriva, but linen gives you a wicking system only Nature herself could contemplate. Conducting heat
    away from the skin , it allows body and soul to breathe even in the most humid and rancid of temperatures, while its natural waxiness
    contains UV properties far better than most high street sun screens.
    No mistake then, that the great travelers of Victorian England, men and women alike, pioneered the look that became synonymous with the
    British abroad. The intrepid explorer in pith helmet and linen safari jacket, or the district commissioner arriving in his white linen suit and
    looking like George Raft in Saunders of the River, coming ashore to dispense tea and good old stiff upper lip advice.
    There were also those hard-nosed millionaires’ daughters who crossed with Cunard in the ‘20s and ‘30s on the terraces of Montparnasse;
    cosmocratic women who saw linen as a liberation from the strictness of the country and class they were leaving. ‘All that wool,’ one famously
    said of another, ‘anybody would think she was married!’
    Then there was that great Hearst journalist, adventurer and bon vivante Lady Hay-Drummond-Hay, who with Dr Hugo Eckener, was the
    first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a Graf Zeppelin as vast as the Queen Mary.
    Hay-Drummond-Hay packed linen and little else, discovering in 1929, what generations of travelers have discovered since, that linen really is
    the wundercloth of the long-distance flyer. It packs well and if dry cleaning bags are slipped between garments, comes out virtually free of
    creases.
    But if creases do happen, as the good Lady Hay-Drummond_Hay discovered during a violent electrical storm when the Zeppelin was tossed
    about like a giant football, just hang the garment in the question somewhere damp for fifteen or so minutes – in the shower, or while you’re
    having a bath – and moisture and gravity will do the rest.
    But a final note on long term care – and this from a man who has more linen suits than Imelda Marcos has shoes – even if the label says
    tumble dry, or dry clean only, you should do so sparingly. Wanton abuse of this kind frays the fine mesh weave that gives linen its luster, and
    can make it look dull and lifeless. Linen dries easily and best when hung in a cool, airy room. It should always be hung, never folded –
    exposure to air maintains its smell, breathability and softness. If folded for traveling, it should be hung on arrival. Try to avoid using an iron
    that is too hot, or at least spray the linen with water beforehand to get a surface that is as smooth as slate, but doesn’t resemble it.
    Finally, if like me you have no time for such Teutonic diversions with iron and water spray, remember linen is a fabric the young and old
    forgive alike. Once in a Pall Mall club, as dead as many of its members, I heard an old gent tut-tut as the man ahead of me passed through
    into the bar with a creased blazer. ‘No respect, no respect!’ Prepared for my equally rumpled linen suit to attract the same slash and burn
    criticism, I was relieved to hear him mutter, ‘Ah now, linen, well that’s different.’ And it is.

  14. NOEL MOUNT

    2007-04-09T15:49:49+00:00

    THE FLAX OF LIFE By Martin Raymond
    In love with Linen?
    Lecturer, writer and Lifestyle analyst Martin Raymond comes
    clean about a craving he can no longer keep to himself.
    Linen’s best kept secret lies in its versatility. And in many ways this has also
    been its downfall. There are still too many people who imagine it to be like the
    linen of their youth – tough, papery and never seeing a crease it didn’t like.
    In an age of convenience, linen has become something for the connoisseur; the man
    and woman with patience and perserverance and a very hot iron.
    Those of us who know, however, know better. Linen has long since passed
    through its ‘crease and be damned’ phase to become something far more elegant and exquisite. On the catwalks, for
    instance, I’m forever being confronted with futuristic fabrics that shimmer and sheen like iridescent beetle wings; that
    repel water like Teflon; shout colour with all the resonance and brashness of a Gary Hume painting; only to find that
    the fabric in question is linen.
    Gentle, classic designers such a John Rocha, Paul Smith and Jasper Conran love it for its whispering traditions;
    directional, art house names such as Rei Kawakubo, Miyake and Raf Simons for its to ability to absorb new colours,
    finishes, textures and properties that make it a fabric every bit as wondrous as the one worn by Alec Guinness in the
    Ealing film classic The Man in the White Suit.
    Linen to mainstream and avant garde designers is as much about the future as it is about tradition and tropical
    fashions. The worlds mills have long since listened to the voice of the hard-pressed businesswoman, or the man too
    much in a rush to bother with his Corby trouser press, and given them tomorrow’s new fangled technologies today.
    Linen that can be machine washed, tumble dried, coated with silicon or mixed with jersey, viscose, Tactel, Tencel, silk
    or hemp to improve performance, durability or drape. Indeed, new generations of linen can cling to the body with a fit
    that’s every bit as smooth and sensual as the naughtiest of bias-cut dresses.
    Even raw, unadulterated linen – fashion’s latest love affair – comes with added extras attached. Or rather embedded
    into the very fibres of the fabric itself. Enzymes that caress, comfort and soothe the garment long after you’ve bought
    it, so it continues to remain peachy soft, as malleable and easy on the skin as the softest of velvets.
    But how does it iron I hear you say? Like a dream, thanks to the minute amounts of liquid ammonia weavers have
    begun to add at the manufacturing stage, so that the fibres remain pliable and loose – a happy laboratory accident
    that has made linen as easy to iron as cotton.
    All this, of course, is for linen lightweights. The true connoisseur, like the true addict, will have nothing less than the
    full strength, unadulterated linen to satisfy his or her craving. For linen is the Cristal of all fabrics and once tasted it
    is hard to go back. I recall meeting a friend on the better end of the Rue Faubourg St Honoré, who, when she sniffed
    at my suit, declared to all and sundry, ‘Aaah the flax, the flax,’ before launching into meandering, but highly charged
    reminiscences of her youth. T’was the smell that done it your honour!
    For linen has such a bouquet to it, the smell of freshness and light, of grassy meadows and warm sun-kissed afternoons, of haystacks and
    Hey Jude nostalgia that quickens the heart and alarms the senses.
    So feral and full is linen’s bouquet that bespoke fragrance designers such as Jo Malone have actually bottled it, while retail psychologists, well
    versed in the Magick arts of making us buy more, pump linen and flax smells through the air conditioning of department stores to remind us
    that they are places of bygone luxuries and never-to-be-experienced-again pampering.
    And linen assuredly does this. It is the fabric of kings. Used to clothe Pharaohs on their thrones and comfort them in their tombs – 1000
    metres of linen was needed to wrap the average mummy! At Versailles it was held in such high esteem that only the king and his queen could
    own their own linen sheets, tablecloths and boudoir sundries; all other courtiers were forced to rent them on the grounds that only kings could
    possess such a royal fabric!
    But if linen was about possession and privilege, it was also about hope, love and the bridal trousseau. For what woman from the middle ages
    onwards would marry or move house without her linen or ‘hope chest’ as it was also called? And what woman didn’t understand linen’s true
    value?
    Then as now, lives and loves were likely to change, and the woman that had her trousseau, had her means and method of escape when the
    going got tough and the tough needed to get going.
    Linen with its embroidery, batiste work, its gold trimming and lace overlays, was currency that never lost its value. It could be paned off
    during hard times, or used to finance good ones. Hence all that elaborate needle-work and fine artistry by women not only biding their time for
    Mr Right, but Clevery and soberly hedging their bets if Mr Right went Wrong.
    Linen, however, is one love you never grow tired of. Especially if you discover it in humid climes and tropical downpours. Science may give us
    neoprenes and kevlars, Coolmax, and Supriva, but linen gives you a wicking system only Nature herself could contemplate. Conducting heat
    away from the skin , it allows body and soul to breathe even in the most humid and rancid of temperatures, while its natural waxiness
    contains UV properties far better than most high street sun screens.
    No mistake then, that the great travelers of Victorian England, men and women alike, pioneered the look that became synonymous with the
    British abroad. The intrepid explorer in pith helmet and linen safari jacket, or the district commissioner arriving in his white linen suit and
    looking like George Raft in Saunders of the River, coming ashore to dispense tea and good old stiff upper lip advice.
    There were also those hard-nosed millionaires’ daughters who crossed with Cunard in the ‘20s and ‘30s on the terraces of Montparnasse;
    cosmocratic women who saw linen as a liberation from the strictness of the country and class they were leaving. ‘All that wool,’ one famously
    said of another, ‘anybody would think she was married!’
    Then there was that great Hearst journalist, adventurer and bon vivante Lady Hay-Drummond-Hay, who with Dr Hugo Eckener, was the
    first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a Graf Zeppelin as vast as the Queen Mary.
    Hay-Drummond-Hay packed linen and little else, discovering in 1929, what generations of travelers have discovered since, that linen really is
    the wundercloth of the long-distance flyer. It packs well and if dry cleaning bags are slipped between garments, comes out virtually free of
    creases.
    But if creases do happen, as the good Lady Hay-Drummond_Hay discovered during a violent electrical storm when the Zeppelin was tossed
    about like a giant football, just hang the garment in the question somewhere damp for fifteen or so minutes – in the shower, or while you’re
    having a bath – and moisture and gravity will do the rest.
    But a final note on long term care – and this from a man who has more linen suits than Imelda Marcos has shoes – even if the label says
    tumble dry, or dry clean only, you should do so sparingly. Wanton abuse of this kind frays the fine mesh weave that gives linen its luster, and
    can make it look dull and lifeless. Linen dries easily and best when hung in a cool, airy room. It should always be hung, never folded –
    exposure to air maintains its smell, breathability and softness. If folded for traveling, it should be hung on arrival. Try to avoid using an iron
    that is too hot, or at least spray the linen with water beforehand to get a surface that is as smooth as slate, but doesn’t resemble it.
    Finally, if like me you have no time for such Teutonic diversions with iron and water spray, remember linen is a fabric the young and old
    forgive alike. Once in a Pall Mall club, as dead as many of its members, I heard an old gent tut-tut as the man ahead of me passed through
    into the bar with a creased blazer. ‘No respect, no respect!’ Prepared for my equally rumpled linen suit to attract the same slash and burn
    criticism, I was relieved to hear him mutter, ‘Ah now, linen, well that’s different.’ And it is.

  15. dawn

    2007-05-10T17:32:00+00:00

    I love linen! I don’t care if it wrinkles. It’s timeless. Earthy and sophisticated at the same time. It feels fantastic. It’s easy to wash, dye, and sew. And topstitching, buttonholes,and other embellishments look great on it.

  16. dawn

    2007-05-10T13:32:07+00:00

    I love linen! I don’t care if it wrinkles. It’s timeless. Earthy and sophisticated at the same time. It feels fantastic. It’s easy to wash, dye, and sew. And topstitching, buttonholes,and other embellishments look great on it.

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