Posted on April 04 2023
What Jules Is Wearing | Emelia
Jules' Journal | Why Linen Is The Best Fabric To Sew With
My Favourite Kind Of Fabric
I love linen. Those who know me or who have been to a workshop, or even seen us at a show will already know this. Most of the patterns I design are with some kind of linen in mind. It's my favourite fabric of all time.
For many years I was a fashion lecturer and mainly dressed in the required uniform of a fashionista - black. Being involved in Fashion back then meant some incursion into the latest trends and fabrics. Which were usually “technical” and basically means man-made. There was very little ‘Natural’ anything including fabrics.
Escaping from that environment allowed me to rediscover the freedom of natural fibres. They take colour so well and feel just gorgeous next to your skin, there really is no substitute. Wearing linen is like wearing a breath of fresh air. It is light and breathable much more so than cotton.
Linen is known to be the world’s strongest natural fibre and far more durable than cotton. In fact it has been shown to be up to 30% stronger than cotton. This is due to the length of fibres within the plant. As the fibres are twisted together the longer fibres are much less likely to break making the yarn much stronger than the yarn made from the shorter fluffier fibres of the cotton plant.
A cotton t-shirt may last a couple of seasons but a beautifully made linen dress will last years. Think about the textiles you may have had handed down to you, I’m sure there will be a linen tablecloth or some bed linen in there.
Easy To Care For
Linen is incredibly easy to look after. It can be washed by hand or in the washing machine. You can even tumble dry it, but to be honest that probably isn’t the most eco-friendly way to dry linen. For the best results I dry my linen clothing on the line outside when I can. Pegged out properly linen clothes will dry beautifully flat and require minimal ironing.
Yes it does crease a bit, but modern pre-washed or laundered linen is much softer and will not crease much at all. And besides, the warmth from your body will help to relax the fabric and allow the creases to just melt away.
I feel the creases should be embraced as part of the natural charm of the fabric. I try hard to rock the ‘Crumpled Look’ now as opposed to the ‘Corporate Look’ these days.
Many people will have noticed that wearing different fibres can cause irritation and discomfort. This is not the case with linen. Fibres such as cotton allow moisture to stay trapped within its fibres creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Linen’s hollow fibres allow moisture to be absorbed and wicked away from the skin quickly. These same hollow fibres enable air to circulate around the moisture so it can evaporate effectively leaving you feeling cool and comfortable.
Linen is a fabulous allrounder, and I do indeed wear it all year round. The hollow fibres mentioned previously help to keep you cool in the summer by wicking away moisture but then help to trap air next to the skin in the winter helping to maintain an even body temperature keeping you warm.
Whereas cotton or wool might make you feel warm initially, they can cause you to sweat as well. Linen’s breathability allows the excess heat to disperse keeping you at a comfortable temperature.
The flax/ linen fibres can also be made into a variety of different types and weights of fabrics making it incredibly versatile to work with. From heavier weight linen for workwear style jackets and trousers to the finest, softest linen for baby clothes and christening gowns it makes up beautifully and is a delight to sew with.
The flax plants from which linen is derived is a hardy plant and will grow in even poor soil. It requires much less water to produce linen from the flax plant, unlike cotton, and far fewer pesticides are used in its cultivation making it a more sustainable crop to grow and more Earth friendly too. Flax / linen fibres can be processed without the use of chemicals so it's a win - win as far as I’m concerned.
If you haven’t tried working with linen you really should! And you should definitely be wearing some this summer at the very least.
Have a look at the linen fabrics we have in stock, I’m sure there's something that will take your fancy. I have another linen project on the go right now.
Happy sewing with Linen!
Will you be adding linen to your next shop? If you do, share your pics with us by tagging us on Instagram @sewmesomething and using the hashtag #smspatterns