learning about linen (or, why isn’t it autumn yet?)

(click for complete poem) Illustration of poem
(click for complete poem & painting on wikipedia) Illustration of poem “To Autumn” by John Keats, painted by W. J. Neatby. From “A Day with Keats: With numerous coloured illustrations” by May Clarissa Gillington Byron and illustrations by W. J. Neatby

A lovely bit by John Keats reminded me it’s supposed to be Autumn now.

            SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

With all the hurricane problems, I’d forgotten. We had 3 days of cool, dry temperatures whetting my appetite for more.

But it’s hotted up again.   😱

not keen on finishing this but guess i'll give it a go tonight
not keen on finishing this but, to quote Hila (Saturday Night Stitch), “done is better than perfect.” and she’s right.

Which means I’m still very much in summer dresses mode.

Which means those linen plans are still firmly in place. But that’s a good thing.

The current issue of Threads’ magazine has a great article all about linen.

things about linen

  • It’s a cellulose material made from fibre stems of flax, anywhere from 5 to 21 inches in length.
  • More than 30,000 years ago, people were using flax fibres to make linen-like cloth.
  • Egyptians did the first linen manufacturing about 4,000 years ago.
  • It’s highly absorbent, like cotton and rayon, but allows evaporation more quickly than either, thus making it cooler for warm weather clothing.
  • Those qualities also made it ideal for undergarments.
  • It is extremely durable, with a lint-free surface that also resists dust and dirt.
  • Linen is resistant to both insects and the sun which makes it ideal for home décor.
  • It doesn’t stretch, making it ideal for painting canvas and embroidery.
  • Lack of stretch makes it wrinkle more easily.
  • It takes paint and dyes well.
  • It can be damaged by bleach, mildew, and perspiration.
  • Continual creasing in the same places (think folds, hems, etc.) can weaken and break the fibres.
  • Linen is strongest when wet! Best to iron when damp.

And the list goes on!

Plus, the article has ideas about how to handle your linen garment once it’s made, including different ways to dry it to get different effects. And ways to avoid ironing it, if you like that look.

I threw this 100% linen camp shirt (rescued from a Virginia charity shop) into the dryer for 5 minutes when I decided I didn’t want to iron it. (Note that I liberally sprayed it first with water to dampen it. Dry linen gets drier in the dryer, and that’s not good as fibres can break.)

What do you think about the effect? It’s very soft and no Fabric Police accost me when I wear it in public. He-he!

Edited to add: linen #2: different weights 
linen #3: boring? no way!

15 thoughts on “learning about linen (or, why isn’t it autumn yet?)”

  1. Thank you so much! Glad that it is of interest and possible use. Wondered about your weather changes! Proper Autumn up your way, whilst it’s cooler here, but dang there’s another 80 in the forecast this weekend. So the linen is still needed. Yes, will do up that fabric as I also like the print. But it’s rough. Needs looots of washing.

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  2. I love linen! Except when it’s wrinkled. Which is always. But never mind…..wrinkles give it character. And really interesting info you’ve gathered, worth further investigation in my book. Finish the dress – it’s very pretty. Hope your weather is coming around by now? We left here 2 weeks ago in summer temps, enjoyed summer temps in CA, and returned to a very chilly autumn day! Leaves already in mid-turn.

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  3. Ah! That’ll be an English autumn he was talking about 😉
    Love linen and your linen info made me realise why my (very fine) linen curtains haven’t faded despite being in a south facing, south of France window.

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  4. Glad you’re well provided for down there – just finishing a re-read of a Phryne book, so am mentally “in Melbourne in summer.”
    Lots of soft summer shifts coming your way, I trust!

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  5. Heading into summer here in Oz and very much looking forward to getting into my favourite fabric.It’s a dream to sew and my local import fabric shop stocks a huge selection all year- it’s all good 😊

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  6. Haha, fabric police! I have a very similar shirt that I picked up in the sale at M&S a couple of months ago. It’s reminded me to dig it out.
    PS I was in bed earlier – am starting my nights tonight so stayed in bed most of the day being very lazy, and dozing 🙂
    PPS No decision made on the coverlock as yet.

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  7. Unfortunately, that article isn’t online at their site, and of course it’s copyright protected, so can’t post it online for everyone to enjoy… but they do have some sort of online sign-up thingy. Will investigate further. 😘

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