Updated: Jan 31, 2022
Image: Linen textile yardage, loose weave.
Linen is one of the oldest textiles in human history—the ancient Egyptians wore it regularly. It comes from the flax plant (linum usitatissimum, if we’re being fancy), so it is a natural fiber fabric.
Linen is created with a plain weave. Being a natural fiber, the weaving usually contains slubs—the natural imperfections that make it so endearing .
It comes in various weights. The looser the weave, the lighter the fabric. The lightest linens (such as tissue linen and handkerchief linen) are so light that you can see every warp and weft threading when they are held up to the light. Heavier weights include linen shirting and butcher’s linen.
Image: top// bottom weight linen, tighter weave.
Mid-range, though it will depend on the quality of the textile and from where it may be imported.
Linen is the quintessential summer fabric, associated with trousers, blouses, dresses, shorts, and sleepwear. There’s something about its casual drape that is so attractive. It does wrinkle terribly but it breathes well.
The lighter the fabric weight, the finer the pin required when pinning pieces together for construction. It might be best to use silk pins for very loosely woven, thin weight linen as they are very sharp and finely pointed. Use a universal needle when sewing on the machine.
When pressing during construction, linen can take the highest heat setting on most irons. Linen presses VERY well. In fact, with thinner weight versions you can create a crease using merely your fingertip.
When laundering, it’s best to use lukewarm to cool water (unless the textile is marked Dry Clean Only). Note that there is a small percentage of shrinkage typically after the first wash. Some bolts of linen textile are pre-shrunk but not all are so it’s best to err on the side of caution with care there.
Linen by the yard can have a slightly rough texture to it. Sometimes it’s pre-treated to create that “new textile” crispness off the bolt but it becomes softer the more it’s washed.
There are linen blends as an alternative to purely 100% linen that help combat the wrinkle factor, particularly the addition of cotton. Triple blends that also include rayon do the same and allow for a rather different and interesting texture.
We will have more on other textiles in the coming weeks...
Until next time~
Vivie V. is a fashion enthusiast from Chicago with a penchant for handmade and vintage pieces. She holds a B.A. from Columbia College, where her passion for the creative arts was heavily cultivated. When she’s not blogging for Tailor Village she’s concocting DIY fragrances, making her own clothes, and running her consultancy, Vivie V.’s Adorn Yourself.