The Ultimate Guide to Linen Fabrics for Summer Sewing

Get sewing for summer with Laurens tips and inspiration!

Linen and linen mix fabrics are such a lovely and versatile fabric to sew with at this time of year. From blouses and tops, to jumpsuits, dresses, trousers and skirts, you can pretty much make anything!

There are various different types of linen fabric though, and a bit like cotton, linen can be an umbrella term that can mean the fabric behaves quite differently and is better suited to certain projects.

In this post, I want to bring together and explain all of the different linen type fabrics we have in the shop and show you what you can make with them.

To see how the fabrics drape and move, check out my latest YouTube video. All the fabrics I mention are linked below. Depending on when you are reading/watching this post, some may show as out of stock and not available. Please do drop us an email on info@guthrie-ghani.co.uk and we can keep you on the enquiries list and let you know when a fabric is back in stock.

What is linen fabric?

First up, let’s cover the basics and get to know more about the linen fibre itself. Linen is a sustainable fabric derived from the flax plant. It is a lovely breathable fabric with high wicking properties making it perfect for clothing that is worn in warmer weather.

It is characterised by what gets called a ‘slubbed texture’. This is because the threads that weave the fabric vary in thickness. It means that some parts of the fabric are more raised, or almost a little bit lumpy. This is totally normal and means the fabric has a lovely natural feel to it. It also means that when the fabric is washed and worn in, it develops its own character and unique look.

It’s well known that linen does tend to wrinkle and crease more than other fabrics. Again, this is a normal characteristic of this fabric and one to be embraced as part of the overall look and feel of a garment.

You can get fabrics that are 100% linen and also fabrics that are linen combined with other types of fibres, which gives the fabric different characteristics.

Classic Enzyme Washed Linen

This fabric is 100% linen and comes pre washed with enzymes. This tends to soften the fabric in a less harsh way that other fabric processing chemicals would do and is said to be more environmentally friendly.

It is a medium weight fabric and in comparison to the range that we stock in the shop it is thicker than the light weight linen fabric and lighter than the ramie fabric. It has a textured slub finish.

It is suitable for trousers, jumpsuits, overalls, dungarees, skirts, lightweight jackets and blazers. You could use it for tops and dresses but as it does hold its shape and structure more than other linen type fabrics, it will give a more boxy, structured feel to a garment.

Lightweight linen fabric

This fabric is also 100% linen but is a lighter weight than our enzyme washed linen fabric. As it is a finer fabric it is more transparent than the Enzyme washed linen. It has a slubbed texture too, but overall smoother than the Enzyme washed one.

Due to its lighter weight, it’s more suitable for tops and blouses. If you do use it for a dress for example, you would need to line it with something like a cotton voile.

Sorona Linen

Sorona Linen is the first in our linen mix fabrics. The composition is made up of 45% linen, 22% Viscose, 18% Sorona and 15% Cotton.

Sorona is a semi man made fibre that is 37% plant based and uses 30% less energy and emits 50% less GHG (greenhouse gas) as compared to the production of nylon from non-renewable resources. It is unique in that the fibre offers excellent stretch and recovery without the need for spandex or elastane.

It is more resistant to creases, exceptionally soft, lightweight, breathable, fast-drying and UV & chlorine resistant. You can read more about it on the Sorona website https://sorona.com/apparel

The overall finish on this fabric is still textured like 100% linen, but less so as it’s mixed with other fibres. It is also more tightly woven, but still feels more lightweight than our enzyme washed linen.

As it contains some viscose fibres, it means the fabric is more fluid and drapes more.

It is really versatile, doesn't need lined and is suitable for tops, blouses, dresses, skirts, trousers and jumpsuits.

Viscose Linen

Our core range of this type of fabric contains 75% viscose and 25% linen but overall the percentage combinations can vary when buying fabric with this fibre mix. This 75:25 split is just what our range of plains is. The fabric has the classic textured slub finish from the linen fibres, and the viscose fibres make it lighter weight and give it incredible drape and movement.

It is opaque, so doesn't need lined, making it really versatile and suitable for many projects from shirts, tops, blouses, dresses, jumpsuits, trousers and skirts.

Ramie

Ramie fabric is similar to linen fabric but it is derived from the stem of nettle plants, also know as China grass. It is very absorbent, strong - even when wet, breathable and durable. It is also anti-bacterial.

The core range of Ramie fabric that we stock has a subbed, textured surface that is more raised than linen fabric. It feels a bit thicker and heavier than 100% enzyme washed linen. It is overall a more structured fabric, but still not stiff.

It is opaque so does not need lined. Due to its more medium- heavier weight structure is is great for trousers, jumpsuits, dungarees, overalls, shorts and light weight summer style blazers/jackets. It can be used for tops and dresses but as it is on the thicker side and holds its structure and shape, it will give garments a more boxy feel.

Cotton Linen

It is common for cotton and linen to be combined together and this can be in varying percentage mixes. They can vary in thickness but are usually a lighter-medium weight. Some lighter weight fabrics may need lined, but usually they don't. They tend to hold their shape and structure more than a viscose linen mix.

They usually have a textured, slubbed finish, are breathable and super comfortable to wear in the summer as tops, blouses, shirts, shirts and loose breezy dresses.

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