Choosing Linen

from transparent to canvas

Linen is a highly washable fabric; it absorbs perspiration well, but also allows it to evaporate, keeping you cool but not clammy. Linen will last longer if washed soon after wearing, as the body salts don't have much time to break down the fibre, and in every case tends to last longer than cotton.

Linen benefits by frequent washing, softening over time, providing it is not ironed or pressed.

I buy linen from , and I am extremely pleased with all of it.

Veil weight linen is 3.5 oz (IL020). Natural and White are very period, but don't use the "optic white", as it looks wrong; this is rather sheer, and is best used where modesty is not an issue (that is, when other garments will go over it).

For kamis or tunic , choose something around 5-6 oz. It's very comfortable, like a heavier shirt. In full skirts, this linen has a lovely flow.

I use the 7 oz (so-called "canvas" weight) for my outer garments; the heavy weight makes the skirts flow nicely. (Note that the heavy fabric tends to be slubby; I have taken a little time to pull out coarse tow and excessive clumping wherever it lies close to my body or where the visual effect needs improvement. A more expensive fabric shouldn't need such treatment.) Full skirts in these heavier fabrics swing well in dancing!

Pre-shrink your fabric by washing in hotter water than what you will later. And run it through the dryer. Maybe repeat that. In short, abuse the fabric now, and be nice later.

Measure your fabric after washing; I lost about ten inches in length with the fine cotton, and maybe an inch-ish with the linen. It will vary more than you expect. You did buy a half-yard more than what you thought you needed, yes?

Make a couple of sketches to see how the pieces will best fit your fabric.

Mark the body pieces of your pattern, remembering the seam allowance. I usually chalk their numbers on the back of the fabric, as well as outline. If I expect the fabric will be handled a lot, I'll use masking tape on the fabric back.

Remember: Any scraps can go into sashes, headgear, napkins, or whatever works with the material you have left. I especially like linen pouches for feast gear and for personal effects.

In sewing it all together, I try to finish each edge as I proceed, rather than leaving it all to the last minute. It will be less tedious in the long run, rather than doing all the finishing work at the end, where it might get neglected.

Sew sides to body with the flat-felled seam. Linen garments benefit greatly by being properly finished even on the inside; even a zigzag stitch will fuzz and fray, so either turn and stitch (how period!) or cover all edges with bias tape.

Another tip: Cut the neckline and finish it while it is flat!