Linen & Linen Blend Fabrics - All you need to know

We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything linen, and tips on how to sew with these linen dressmaking fabrics.

WHAT IS LINEN FABRIC?

Linen is made from the fibres of the stem of the flax plant. These fibres are long, stiff and irregular in shape. It is these irregular shaped yarns that give the fabric its slub appearance. Linen yarn is stronger than a similar weight cotton yarn which means that it can be more loosely woven. Linen can be combined with other fibres such as silk, polyester, spandex, viscose, TENCEL™ and cotton which will alter the feel and structure of the fabric. 

Image: flax flowers, fibre and yarn
Source: Seasalt Cornwall

WHAT CAN LINEN BE BLENDED WITH?

  • Linen Viscose - due to the viscose content the fabric has a fluid drape and it is less prone to wrinkling. It is ideal for sewing dresses that require a drapey fabric 
  • Linen TENCEL™ - like viscose linen blends, the TENCEL™ blend results in a fabric that has more drape 
  • Linen Cotton - cotton softens the linen fabric and it wrinkles less. It is commonly used for sewing trousers, structured dresses & tops and summer weight jackets
  • Linen Polyester - polyester softens the linen and it has a less wrinkled appearance
  • Linen Silk - silk fibres softens the linen fabric
  • Linen Spandex - elastane can be blended into woven linen fabrics which gives the fabric a slight stretch. This blend is perfect for sewing fitted trousers

BENEFITS OF 100% LINEN FABRIC?

  • It does not have any insulative properties allowing the wearer to feel cool, making it perfect for warmer climates
  • Durable 
  • Easy to sew with as it is not stretchy or slippery 
  • Versatile 
  • Machine washable
  • Biodegradable 

DISADVANTAGES OF 100% LINEN FABRIC?

  • Wrinkles easily 
  • Prone to shrinkage
  • Prone to fraying so it is important that you finish your edges

IS 100% LINEN FABRIC SUSTAINABLE?

Linen is seen as a sustainable fibre because the flax plant grows naturally and requires no additional water other than rainwater to grow. 100% linen fabric is biodegradable and recyclable. It is important to note that sometimes chemicals are used to soften linen fabric, however, you will also find enzyme washed linen. This bio linen fabric has been softened naturally using enzymes which means that no chemicals have been used. 

TIPS FOR SEWING WITH LINEN FABRIC

  • It is prone to shrinking so it is important that you pre-wash your fabric 
  • Consider the weight of the linen fabric you are purchasing. If you are looking to sew yourself a summer garment then you will want a linen fabric that is light-medium weight, whereas if you are looking for a linen fabric for upholstery then you will want a linen fabric that is heavyweight 
  • Follow the weave and texture of the fabric when you are cutting out your project 
  • Make sure you finish your edges properly to avoid fraying - you could use a simple zig zag stitch to finish your edges, or if you have an overlocker then you can use that. Otherwise, you could consider using French Seams for light-medium weight linen fabrics, or Hong Kong Seams for heavier weight linen fabrics
  • Make sure you press your fabric as it will make it easier to sew with. It is beneficial to press it whilst it is damp
  • Use a universal sewing machine needle, the size of the needle will depend on the weight of the fabric 
  • Linen can be sewn using a standard straight stitch (stitch length 2.5mm)

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If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can contact Team Sunshine at teamsunshine@sewmesunshine.co.uk

We stock a wide range of 100% linen fabrics and linen blend fabrics, you can find the full range here.

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