linen #3: boring? no way!

creative linen

creative linen

Quick Review: You’ve got a piece of linen in your hand – exciting!

Take your linen, and some jeans (non-bleeding!) or large towels, and pop them into the wash on hot.

W-H-A-T? you shriek.

  • Yes! Wash linen as you intend to wash the finished garment, you can wash several times, and hot water isn’t bad for linen. (Remember, it’s strongest when wet.)
  • Linen fabric doesn’t shrink much, but sizing does need to be washed out before sewing begins.
  • DO NOT USE BLEACH! Bleach can damage the linen fibres.
  • Dry as you intend the finished garment to dry. But I’d do dryer first, plus an old (clean) tennis ball or two, and watch that lint trap to see how much fuzz comes off. (I’ve included a photo of the fuzz from the orange linen, and you see how much fuzz this can be.)
  • Bone-dry linen becomes brittle and can break, so don’t over-use that dryer. Remove linen when it’s slightly damp and either hang to complete drying or… iron on highest iron setting, with steam for best results.
  • The more linen is washed, the softer it becomes, particularly if you toss in old jeans or towels.

Remember my trick with my camp shirt: Because it was stiff after air drying, I decided to liberally sprinkle the shirt with water and toss into the dryer for a few minutes so I didn’t have to iron it.

Or you can iron it with lots of steam, then toss into the dryer for 5 minutes to soften.

seam allowances:

  • Linen ravels. Sometimes a lot.
  • Before cutting out your garment, decide what seam finishing is needed.
  • Test seam finishes before cutting out your garment: work with a scrap to try different finishes (french, zigzag, serge/overlock, etc), then launder to see what works best.
  • If your chosen seam finish requires more seam allowance than your pattern, add that amount before cutting.

After a couple of tests with different linens, you’ll start knowing what works with what, just as with any other fabric.

creativity: Let’s say you’ve got a great piece of linen, but it’s a solid colour, and looks boring. A-ha! Now’s where your creativity comes in.

  • Linen takes dyes beautifully, so you can start thinking about ~
  • Fabric dyeing or stenciling portions of your fabric, or all of it, either before cutting or after completing your project.
  • Fringed hems or exposing fringed seams. (Secure the fringe with a tiny zigzag stitch just before the fringed area begins.)
  • Use rubber bands on bunched up linen or enclose soft-edged buttons in linen then wind rubber bands around linen before washing and drying. The folds stay in the fabric for quite a while and give 3-dimensional effects. See my example below.
  • Forgot to mention how much longer it takes the bunched up fabric to dry. Rather than risk damaging the entire piece, I pulled it out of the dryer and allowed the entire piece to finish air drying before removing elastics and buttons. (Tossed it on my cutting table overnight, but a shower rod or ironing board would suffice.)

Previous linen posts:
linen #1: learning about linen 
linen #2: different weights 

sunday sevens #43


freezer-paper“What,” you might ask, “is so special about freezer paper & crackers?”


Except I had no source for either until Friday. Yippee!

We who sew know freezer paper is great for tracing dressmaking patterns. It’s sturdy enough to write on, you can iron it, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than anything else.

My lack thereof was crimping both use and storage of my PDF patterns.

You know what I’ll finally be able to do this week!

I should also explain that an early Christmas box arrived from my sewing bestie, Samantha. Needless to say, I picked up the phone and we had a long natter whilst I was unwrapping things. (Yes, I tried to wait, but it’s been such a difficult time I needed an early holiday.) Have included some of her lovelies below.

Here’s some of the other things that happened last week ~ as my contribution to Natalie’s Sunday Sevens. If you’d like to find out more, just check out her site.



sunday sevens #42


Sunday Sevens was created by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins. Click to see the guidelines.


my comfort read for the week, to catch up with my agatha reading… now i should re-read the sequel because i’ll understand all the references to “last year’s case”

The big news for America’s Agatha fans is the Agatha Raisin series, currently only available on Acorn TV, will be on PBS sometime in 2017.

the rest of last week's books. didn't cook a thing from the nigella books, but enjoyed looking through them again

the rest of last week’s library pile. didn’t cook a thing from the nigella books, but enjoyed looking through them again


it was one of those weeks when only a pot was enough..., thank goodness it's been cool enough to enjoy a full pot.

it was one of those weeks when only a pot was enough…, thank goodness it’s been cool enough to enjoy a full pot.

am i the only sewer who collects these for small things, like snaps & pins?

am i the only sewer who collects these for small things, like snaps & pins?


friday was leftovers night-beans & egg & a bit o'cut up apple... i think that's what this conglomeration was

friday was leftovers night-beans & egg & a bit o’cut up apple… i think that’s what this conglomeration was

click one of these 2 photos to see all the captions


My final photo isn’t mine – it’s from friend Scott’s blog, Furrowed Middlebrow. Let me explain…

my last picture isn't mine, but courtesy of Scott and Dean Street Press. you can click to go to all of dean street's furrowed middle brow books

my last picture isn’t mine, but courtesy of Scott and Dean Street Press. you can click to go to all of dean street’s furrowed middlebrow books

In honour of Remembrance Day and our equivalent, Veteran’s Day, I downloaded a new reprint of a wonderful British woman’s first-hand account of London during World War II: A Chelsea Concerto, by Frances Faviell.  It’s written with an artist’s eye to detail. It’s harrowing. And I can hardly stop reading it.

I should explain that my San Francisco acquaintance and publisher (oooh, that’s so nice to type!) Scott is the instigator. His blog, Furrowed Middlebrow, has been a continuing source of new authors for me to read.

Now, Scott’s dream of reprinting many of the wonderful out of print (OOP) books he’s found so difficult to locate has come true, and there are NINE in his first group. If this one is any indication of the quality of the rest, and I’m confident it is, I’ll be devouring them all. At which point, I hope another batch will be ready.

If you enjoy reading, and want to discover forgotten British women authors, click on over to Scott’s post of the initial nine here. He’s included both UK and US Amazon locations for all of them. He wrote, “… You can easily find all nine of the Furrowed Middlebrow books by simply searching “Furrowed Middlebrow” on Amazon.”

This is his 2013 review of the book I’m now reading, during which he wishes he could get it reprinted. And now he has.

🎉🎈HUGE Congratulations, Scott! 🎈🎉



sunday sevens #41 (whoops! forgot one)


autumnal decorations from chicago days

mutter, mutter, toil, and grumble,

why can’t monday

be like sunday?

Must be the time change.

But it’s finally cooled off a bit, and I’ve actually worn long pants and either my Morris or another jacket several times. Yippee!

The grocer had sticky tape/scotch tape on a 2-for-one sale so guess who stocked up? And I’ve gotten one batch of patterns out to start taping pieces more sturdily so they can be folded.

Here’s the rest of the week, the bits I managed to get photos from. Sorry about running a bit short but as Natalie’s “rules” are really easy guidelines, am not too worried.

Hope you enjoy, and are having a lovely week yourselves!

Edited to add:  How could I have forgotten those magazines I picked up for a once-a-year look, just to see what’s going on inside… good thing I decided to clean off that  table!