What to sew with Liberty Tana Cotton Lawn Fabric

To coincide with our Summer Liberty and designer fabric sale, I wanted to get together a range of different garments I’ve made over the years using this beautiful fabric.

The Liberty designs are iconic and I know there will be a lot of long term fans of this fabric, but for those of you less familiar I wanted to explain a bit more about it and hopefully let you see what all of the fuss is about!

You can check out my latest Youtube video for lots of inspiring ideas of what to sew with Liberty Tana Lawn and read on for lots of tips and advice for working with it, as well as links to lots of pattern ideas!

I write this post as a longtime fan of Liberty fabric myself, even since before I owned the shop. I can remember always visiting the haberdashery department in their store as a child with my Mum and it holds lots of special memories. I have been an authorised retailer of Liberty fabrics for almost 10 years now and it feels really special that I get to sell these beautiful fabrics in my shop. I write this post based on my own experience of sewing with Liberty fabrics over the years and really loving it. Liberty have not asked me to write it, nor do they have any involvement with this post and my corresponding video.

What does ‘Tana Lawn™’ mean?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked and it’s got a really interesting history. You can read about it more on the Liberty website linked here.

In summary, Tana Lawn™ is a trademarked name that is specifically linked to the cotton lawn that Liberty produce. In the early 1930’s Liberty started sourcing cotton fibers that are long-staple, silk like fibers from Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The cotton was then spun into lustrous threads and woven into a really beautiful fabric that was groundbreaking for its time.

Now Liberty's Tana Lawn™ is produced in its own mill near Lake Como in Italy and the cotton originates from India, Egypt and the US.

What you might notice in Tana Lawn™ over other types of cotton lawn is its high thread count, said to be 240. This means that although it feels lightweight and very soft, it is very durable and has a really smooth luster, handle and good stability. It means it can also handle very detailed designs being printed onto it and the colour definition is really amazing.

Liberty do really pride themselves on the quality of the cloth and it is something that is still very closely maintained and monitored so you know when you see ‘Tana Lawn’™ that the fabric you get will be top notch!

Benefits of sewing with Tana Lawn™

Aside from the gorgeous designs, Tana Lawn™ is really easy to work with as it is stable and doesn’t slip about, making it really easy to control and handle. It is still lightweight and I would describe it as floaty rather than having lots of drape, like a viscose for example. Viscose tends to be very floppy and swishy, whereas Tana Lawn™ tends to hold its structure a little but more and would hold a bit more shape in a garment. Take puffed sleeves for example, in a viscose fabric that fullness will really hand and drape down, whereas in a cotton lawn, it will hold the fullness and volume of the puff sleeve more.

Tana Lawn™ also presses really well with a hot steamy iron making it great for details in garments like pleats, pin tucks, collars, cuffs, button bands and gathered details.

How to wash and care for it

From my experience of using Tana lawn™, it doesn’t shrink or really change much in its texture after washing it. It would probably still suggest you still pre-wash it before making a garment in whatever way you intend to launder it once its been made up. For me this is typically 40 degrees on a normal cyle in the washing machine, hung up to air dry and then pressed flat with a hot steamy iron.

Do you need to line Liberty Tana Lawn™?

I also get asked this question a lot and my answer is always….it depends! It depends what you are making and also on the main background colour of the design.

If you are making a shirt, blouse or top I would typically say, no it does not need to be lined. If you were making a dress I would say maybe - that’s when it depends on the style and the main background colour of the design.

If it’s light in colour and you are making a fairly fitted or straight cut design then you might feel like you wanted to line it - unless it was more of a summery cover up style dress that you might wear to the beach or pool over a swimsuit.

If it’s dark in colour and the design is quite full with gathers for example, then you might not need to line it.

What type of fabric to use to line Liberty Tana Lawn™?

I made a Tilly and the Buttons Indigo dress using a navy background design last Christmas and I lined only the skirt part. This was because I wanted to wear it with tights and I didn’t want my tights to stick to the fabric. I choose a Bemberg slippery lining so it would glide over my tights. So my advice is to consider what you will be wearing underneath the garment.

If its a summery dress or you intend to wear the garment with bare legs then I would suggest using a plain cotton lawn or voile as this will compliment the properties of the Tana Lawn™ and make for a really lovely garment.

What to make with Liberty Tana Lawn™?

Full garments

This fabric is great for all sort of tops, blouses and shirts and I want to refer you to my separate posts showing my round up of woven top patterns and shirts/blouse patterns. All of the ones I mention in those posts (and more!) would be suitable for Tana Lawn™ and you can find those posts linked below.

Here are some examples of garments I have made over the years, some are with older patterns now that are not available but I have linked the ones that are. Please see these examples as general the types of garments that work will for lawn rather than a specific list.

Swipe from left to right to see

The Avid seamstress the Blouse

Tilly and the Buttons Indigo

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Hunter Tank top

Simple Top pattern from my book, Learn to Sew with Lauren

Pictured below swiping left to right is

Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

Using Tana Lawn™ for special details in a garment

I can never bring myself to throw a scrap of Liberty fabric out ever, I have a HUGE box of offcuts and scraps that I will do something with one day!

It is also a really lovely way to add special details to a garment without commiting to wearing a whole print, which might feel a bit too much or overwhelming sometimes.

Pictured below is

Friday Pattern Company Ilford jacket
with under-collar, inner sleeve cuff and seam finishing on the inside all done with Liberty fabric.

A contrast flat piping in between the lining and main facing fabric on a coat - I’ve done this on the Closet Core Clare and Grainline Yates Coat.

In this Closet Core Kelly Anorak I added a Liberty lined hood, hanging loop, internal hem finishing and internal drawstring casing.

These were all projects featured in Sewing Society kits and my top tips videos that accompanied the kits are still available to access - linked below.

I've also used it to line the bodice of coats and jackets like the Paper Cut Waiver Jacket (pattern no longer available) and the Lekala #4248 Big Bow Coat.

You can browse and shop all of our Liberty Tana lawn Fabrics in this link - below is a selection of a few from the current sale we have on!

I hope this fills you with lots of ideas for using this gorgeous fabric in your next project. We currently have 20% off all our ranges of Liberty fabric pre Summer 23 - click here to browse them all!

Happy Sewing!


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