Monday, April 28, 2014

Linen Love

I love linen.  It is one of those wholly delicious fabrics, delightful to the touch -- both to the hand and on the body-- and comfortable to wear.  Cool in summer, warm in winter.  I don't wear much linen because it wrinkles so quickly but I love it just the same.  Linen lasts nearly forever and gets softer and more comfortable the more it's washed and worn.  Sounds lovely for a quilt, doesn't it?

Will I love quilting with linen?  I don't know.  I've been collecting nearly-new linen clothing for a few years with the intention of using it for a quilt.  I cut one of the shirts apart the other day and realized how slippery linen is -- exactly one of those attributes that makes it so comfortable on the body but which may make it very difficult to sew.

The January/February 2008 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine had an article about using linen for a quilt.  I scanned the article knowing that one day I would want the information.  Pam Rocco, the author, made several observations about working with linen.
  • Linen fabrics can be paired with cotton fabrics in a quilt but try to keep the weight similar.
  • Linen frays.  Sew with 12-15 stitches/inch and use 3/8"-1/2" seams.
  • Linen is stretchy compared to cotton.  Use stabilizer before cutting or spray starch when pressing to prevent stretch and "wobbly" seams.
  • When sewing let the feed dogs do the work:  don't try to push or pull the fabric through.
  • Steam press seams open from the back.  Avoid ironing since it may stretch and rearrange the fabric.
  • Stay-stitch the outside edge of the quilt before layering and quilting.
She says, "It also helps to have a relaxed attitude and not to expect perfection--realize that the wandering seam lines add to the homemade charm of linen quilts."  Does that sound like me?  It will be good practice in overcoming perfectionistic tendencies, right?  (Just a note here:  I never accomplish perfection but it's always my aim.)

As far as the quilting, she does not mention hand quilting, which is unfortunate since that's what I'll be doing (if I succeed in piecing a linen quilt top!).  She recommends an all-over quilting pattern.  Not a problem if I can manage Baptist Fans on a linen quilt.

Probably many of you have seen the quilt made from seven shirts on pinterest.  I know whatever pattern I choose the pieces can't be too small because of the fraying and the 1/2" seams.

I have my stack of linen, not all of which is cut apart, some of which you can see at right and above.  I have yet to choose a pattern, colors, and fabrics.  I'll be earnestly looking at patterns and trying to imagine options. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with these linens shirts!

I'm linking this post to Design Wall Monday - April 28, 2014 at Patchwork Times.  Thank you, Judy.



  1. Your pile of linen looks lovely... so soft and inviting. I'd never thought of making a linen quilt before. Hmmm.

    1. Hi, Ramona --
      The fabric feels inviting, too!I love how linen gets softer with age. If you decide on a linen quilt I hope you'll post about it. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  2. Thanks so much for this info on using linen. I have a pile of pastel colored linen shirts I've been collecting for a quilt, and I was thinking of a simple pattern incorporating some hand embroidery. Can't wait to see what you do with this -- your fabrics look lovely.

    1. Hi, Martha --
      I'm pleased to hear I'm not the only one who saves/collects linen shirts. Embroidery would be beautiful on a linen quilt! You're welcome for the info. I'm a little uncertain about the whole thing, especially because I have absolutely no experience sewing linen. It will be interesting to see what happens. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. very nice collection of linen. I haven't used it in a quilt yet.

    1. Thank you, Carrie. Using linen will be an experiment for me since I have never used it in a quilt, either. Now that I have these lovely pieces, I hope I like it.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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