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How To Prepare Your Linen Fabric Before Sewing

How To Prepare Your Linen Fabric Before Sewing

Have you heard that linen fabric shrinks and are you a little apprehensive about using it for your sewing projects? You shouldn’t be. Yes, linen shrinks but there are things you can do to minimize the shrinkage and transform a basic fabric into a fabulous garment or accessory. 

Linen has several features that make it a hugely popular fabric with amateur hobbyists as well as professional designers. Linen is a versatile fabric. It handles well and comes in an array of gorgeous prints, in a wide range of colours. The fabric is well-suited for all types of garments as well as fashion accessories such as handbags, scarves and belts. It is also great for sewing cushion covers, table runners, dining mats, and other home furnishing items. 

I absolutely love working with linen and don’t let its shrinking nature deter me. To date I’ve sewn several tops and even trousers with this beautiful fabric. The secret to sewing with linen is to take some time to prep the fabric before cutting out your pattern. 

Step-By-Step To Washing A Small Yardage of Linen Fabric Before Sewing

linen fabric washing

Use these tips to prep your linen fabric before you place your pattern pieces for cutting.  

1. Open up the fabric and soak it in cold water in a tub or basin for about 30 minutes to an hour. Do not put the fabric in the water while still folded as the water may not get to the inner layers resulting in uneven shrinkage.  

2. Drain the excess water and give the fabric a gentle squeeze to remove excess water. DO NOT wring or twist the fabric to get rid of the excess water as this may damage the fibres.

3. Hang dry your linen in shade without wringing. Wringing may create creases in your linen.  

4. If you are planning on putting the fabric in the dryer, make sure you set the dryer to the lowest heat setting and remove the fabric before it is completely dried. This will make the next step easier. 

5. Iron the fabric when it is still slightly damp. When ironing, stretch it out ever so slightly. This will not help the fabric stretch completely to its original dimensions but it will stretch it out enough. 

Pre-shrinking linen fabric using the steps above will ensure that your sewn outfit will fit you perfectly! 

Step-By-Step To Washing A Larger Yardage of Linen Fabric Before Sewing

washing linen fabric in washing machine

If you’ve bought several metres of linen fabric, it may be more convenient to pre-wash your fabric in the washing machine. In this case, there is one more step you may want to do especially if you are working with a very loose weave linen fabric. 

Loose weave linen is likely to fray in the washing machine. The selvage won’t fray but the cut ends will. To prevent the fabric from fraying you can finish off the raw edges with a zigzag stitch or use a serger if you have one. 

fraying on linen fabric
To prevent the fabric from fraying you can finish off the raw edges with a zigzag stitch or use a serger.

Put the unfolded fabric in the washing and set it to a gentle cycle and cold setting. A stronger setting could damage the delicate linen fibres. 

Continue as before, taking care when putting the fabric in the dryer. 

All the best!

Blog by de Linum


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