Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to sew and probably to wear as well. Before I can explain my favorite method for its construction I really need to explain how best to wear linen. There are a few caveats.
To really get the most out of a linen garment both financially and stylistically it helps to follow a few tips.
* Linen needs to be washed at least three times before cutting and sewing. It can take bleach but really shouldn't ever need it. It thrives on the hottest of water.
* Linen garments, to be fully enjoyed, should be totally washable in the machine and dryable in your dryer. I have owned linen garments I've made, jackets, pants, tops and pajamas (wonderful, by the way) that I have worn for over ten years and they looked great till they could go no more, all washed and dried over and over.
* If you take your linens out of the machine just a hair shy of total dryness and if they are constructed the way I tell below, you should be able to shake them out, put them on a hanger and an wear them about 15 minutes later. I very rarely iron these clothes. They get a bubbly "boutique" look. You know, the bubbly casual look you pay for five times more than you should in the beach town boutiques on vakay. Just shake those bubbles out and rock on!
*To be able to have your garments take this sort of maintenance means starting with medium weight linens, nothing see thru. This weight rarely requires a lining for modesty.
* Grey linens are generally not the best quality fibers. Go for colors or whites and light beiges with Irish linens being worth the expense. Remember, you will wear these garments over and over for years and years. Cost per wear, remember?
*Because of their longevity, your design choices are best in simple classic looks. It is also better for the construction and maintenance as well.
*Garments with a fair amount of ease will work better for you over the years as weight fluctuates.
*Solids will give you the longest and most wear time. Just thinking about the investment side of good linen and how prints can be trendy.
After I finished my last two projects, I was sort of bumbling in the shadows of covid19 wondering what to do next. I decided to work on something I needed. I need sleeveless summer tops. I don't like knit tanks, just simple tops that pull over and are woven. I decided to draft my own. I really enjoyed that. I had some nice scraps of white medium weight linen that would be perfect. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I was missing about 1 inch of fabric to get in just one of the shoulder straps. I bumbled around some more and realized I had plenty of smaller pieces to make a yoke of sorts in the front bodice. It worked fine. I committed it all to permanent paper and now have a new top pattern for summer, one that I can use with or without the yoke. I like it.
The above photo shows you how I like to sew linen to get it to last me decades. I apologize for the all white photo and I did try to squeeze out as much contrast as I could. If you click it to another screen I think you will be able to see it better.
*I choose simple designs.
* I don't line any thing made with this type of linen and I very rarely use a facing. If I do use a facing it is stitched down on the edge and an intentional part of the design.
* EVERY seam is machine stitched, pressed as sewn, pressed to the side, and then serged together. The seam is then topstitched an 1/8th of an inch away from the original seam and then a 1/4 inch away from that topstitching, on top of the serging. It gives the look of a felled seam, is very strong and secure and it holds up to years of machine washing.
* The entire garment is clean finished within and without. On this top I used a lightweight cotton voile in a French fold bias finish for the armholes and neckline. On the side seams I carefully banged them where needed on cement with a hammer to reduce the bulk in the seam. I only needed to do one spot at the top of one side seam. Having all the edges enclosed and serged and topstitched makes for one tough garment.
As in all sewing, there are various ways to sew, treat and wear/enjoy linen. It is just so versatile, comfortable in the heat, classy (I hope), and just a delight to sew and wear. As you plan your summer wardrobe and as we dream of days when we can get out in the summer sun, think of investing in some good medium weight linen and making yourself some pieces with simple design lines. They will bring you years of comfort and joy. Covid #4 is a skirt, another original, not pattern.......................Bunny