Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Am Talking 'Bout the Linen*

Where to begin?

I am still nowhere with the Appleton dress because a) it's too hot to tape things (not complaining!) and b) I got derailed by that piece of linen after reading about Gillian's experience.

Brief Sidebar: It's fucking gorgeous outside, given that it's hotter than hell, and I'm enjoying it tremendously, with a glass of (unfortuntately) chilled Tatone. That red is way to heavy to chill - or to drink today. Note: I'm not the one who put it in the fridge so I will complain - but I don't have the discipline to wait till it warms up. I've been sewing for a long time...

OK, back to the stretch linen. I have so many feelings about it:
  • It's a weird little fiber. I think you have to view it like a plant, more than a textile. It's so natural and farm-y that it's hard to begrudge it.
  • It takes everything personally, but it sews up beautifully. What I mean is, Lord, don't stretch this shit because post-stitch "recovery" is not in its skill set. In an unheard of move, I washed it again after sewing, so that I can see how the fabric is actually going to hang. Note: I did not machine dry it as that's not how I pre-treated it. I believe that linen should be air-dried. In truth, it only takes 10 minutes to go from soaking to wearable. Having said all this about the memory issues, it loves a serger, a machine, a coverstich. It's just happy to be there.
  • It really is fucking see-through! I'm cool with that. When it's hot enough to wear, I'm not going to care. And my bras are so gorgeous, they deserve a bit of play. But I don't think I'll be wearing this to work...
  • The stuff I bought is arguably of very high quality. There's no slub. The stretch-factor is about 40% (4 inches to 7 inches) on the cross grain. It does not stretch along the length. It doesn't get shiny with ironing. Alas, it's unfortunate that I neglected to lift my coverstitch needles adequately before yanking the yarn back to disengage the looper. But even that didn't ruin this fabric. It persevered. (A jersey would have been scratched into oblivion.)
And then there's how it sews up:
  • I opted to make my 40 per cent stretch linen Concord in the same size as my others (which are 100 per cent stretch rayon jersey). My sense of linen is that it doesn't recover but it loves to stretch-stretch-stretch. Only wear will tell, but I think I made the right call. I did serge the side seams very close for a bit of extra roominess.
  • Having said this, the Concord is drafted very amply in the hips so I think it might have been wise for me to have serged off more seam in that area.
  • Furthermore, and I totally made this up on the fly, I opted to cut the binding (for neck and armscyes) on the length - so the only stretch achieved is from fabric ease (of which there is much). I didn't want these areas to bag out. I didn't know if this would work (so I pre-sewed and took quite a bit of time pinning etc.) but it was worth the effort. 
  • I'm glad I opted to forego the sleeves. Linen and sleeves are a really weird combo that I've never been into.
  • Peeps, my stitch work on this project is fine. I took 3 hours to sew a sleeveless T shirt which means I took my time and I love the end result. Of course, it's a fucking black fabric with black thread so no one will ever know!
I will post a photo of this Concord hack (prob on my dressform) once it dries, and I'm calling this project a success. Will I run out to buy 100 bucks worth of stretch linen any time soon? Um, no. Might I make up a Kielo maxi using it - next year, say? Perhaps. And I'm glad to learn more about a new fiber, even one that doesn't innately thrill me.  I actually think I'm more into linen yarn than linen fabric -and even that is something I've only forayed into once.

PS: I think I may actually have enough fabric to make one more of these...

*Unless you're Gen X or older, this will probably mean nothing to you, but there's a HIDEOUS song by England Dan & John Ford Coley (I actually had to look up who sings it), from the '70's, called I'd Really Love to See You Tonight. It's a scourge. At any rate, one of the lyrics in the chorus is: "I'm not talkin' 'bout movin' in" and it sounds EXACTLY like: "I'm not talkin' bout the linen". Once you've heard it, you'll never be able to unhear it. So proceed with caution. I guess I should try harder with my post title puns if they actually require a footnote explanation.


  1. I'm so excited that we thought similar things about the linen knit! So well behaved to sew, so bad at recovery, and too sheer for work. Now I need to sew a really nice bra to wear underneath, because you are right, life is too short to wear camisoles under stuff. I can't wait to see it - and I'd particularly like to see if with a bra or something on the dress form, because I'm curious how the sheerness works with the fitted design.
    BTW, did I mention my linen came from Fabricland? They are upping their game! (Unreliably, though.) They also had some sheerer stuff with no slub, which had a lovely fine gage and good drape.. but what would I make with it? (Also, it was all pale colours. Blah.)

  2. I will have you know that I loved that song back in the day! Haven't heard it in years so I don't know about now........ Yup, still like it, I guess this means we can't be besties. 8-)

    Your linen knit sounds interesting, but not enough to buy some. I'm too cheap. Maybe one day.Thank you for a great review.

  3. Showing my age, I remember that song from the 70s. Top 40 radio. I love linen knits but have never tried to sew with them. Eileen Fisher is a reliable, if spendy, source. Thanks for posting this useful review.