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Feb '24

Linen Fabric – what, how and why it is great for sewing AND wearing ๐Ÿ˜

Linen is a natural textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, known for its durability, breathability, and luxurious feel. The process of making linen involves several steps. First, flax plants are harvested and the fibers are extracted through a process called retting, where the stalks are soaked in water to break down the outer layer and separate the fibers. Then, the fibers are spun into yarns and woven into fabric.

Linen fabric is characterized by its crisp texture and natural luster, which softens over time with washing and use. It is highly absorbent, making it ideal for warm-weather clothing and household textiles like bedding and towels. Linen is also known for its strength, which contributes to its longevity and ability to withstand frequent washing.

In addition to its practical properties, linen is valued for its eco-friendly production process, as flax plants require minimal water and pesticides compared to other crops used for textiles. Overall, linen is a versatile and sustainable fabric cherished for its timeless elegance and comfort.

In modern-day dressmaking, IMO there are four general types of linen fabric –

  1. Heavier weight softer/vintage washed, usually a more “bubbly” texture or
  2. Crisp and more lustrous, which will hold its creases more sharply.
  3. Printed linens are typically softer and less sturdy as the print process involves some washing.
  4. Yarn Dye – linen stripes can come in any of the above textures. Yarn Dye means the actual yarns are dyed then woven to make stripe and check effects. You can also buy stripe and cheque linens that are printed. Be aware if this is the case that the stripes/checks are not always straight to the selvedge when printed as there can be some fabric movement during the print process. Depending on the style your are cutting it may be better to follow the printed stripe rather than the true grain to get a more accurate visual finish.

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