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Apr 8, 2013

Confessions of a Linen Lover



I love linen.  I love to sew with it and I love to wear it.  Maybe it's the rumpled quality of linen.  Being rather rumpled myself, it feels cozy but classic.



You know how there's always that one particular day, usually in April or May, when the weather all of a sudden turns summery and you want to shed your entire winter wardrobe along with a few pounds of belly fat?  That day was today, friends!

I've already been out and about, meeting up Elizabeth, who's visiting from California this week, in the Garment District, where we had a bite to eat and did a little fabric shopping.  Oddly, it was nearly too warm for my taffeta jacket, though this was the first day it wasn't too cold to wear it.  Elizabeth was in wool, however, so I didn't complain.



I came home with just a few items: a yard of silk organza, which I've never owned or worked with before.



Two fly zippers, one for my linen pants and one for my gray cotton-mohair suit pants.



These are the linen pants I want to replicate this week -- a bit looser, however, and with different pockets.  I bought these pants at H&M nearly five or six years ago and they're still wearable, if a bit snug.  You can see that the side seam is pulling toward the rear, which suggests a little extra roominess might be in order.





I think I'd like a fit that's closer to these J. Crew pants, with a smooth front and side slant pockets instead of the double-welt diagonal front pockets on my pants, whose flaps are not especially flattering.



A few other details of the pants: two back double-welt pockets with flaps (I think I'll keep the pockets but skip the flaps).



Cool belt loops -- I may try to recreate these.



Otherwise there's nothing unusual here: zipper fly, flat-felled seams, and attached waistband, as expected.  But they're very solidly constructed for what were, at the time, very inexpensive pants.





I hope to get started on these today, unless the warm weather distracts me.  The rest of week is promising to be even warmer!

In closing, are there any other linen lovers out there?

Is it linen's texture, coolness, or casualness you like most?  Or something else entirely?

Happy Monday, everybody!

37 comments:

  1. I like linen, too. I'm sewing a shirt for myself out of chambray-blue cotton-linen right now. Definitely leave off pocket flaps in anything linen.

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  2. I love linen. I made my little boy an Eton suit in a cotton/linen blend that is delicious to touch.

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  3. I love linen but I hate how it wrinkles. It feels amazing on the skin.

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  4. I just have to tell you how inspiring you are. I've been sewing for almost 30 years now and I've gotten scared of trying new things. I look forward to your blog because you are so enthusiastic about every aspect of this craft! It was the picture of silk organza that got me today--I've worked with it before and loved it, but when was the last time I bought a yard of something just to experiment with? It's been a while. Thank you! Keep doing what you're doing!

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    1. I hope Peter is going to use it as a pressing cloth!

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    2. Some of it, for sure. Can I just pink the raw edges?

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    3. Yes, or so I have seen it recommended to do. You can't sew a seam around the edge of a press cloth because it leaves an "impression" on the fabric you are pressing!. But, I would imagine that if you used a very lightweight silk thread you might be able to put a zigzag around the edge that won't 'mark"

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  5. I love linen too! I will wear it whenever and wherever! It's classic and looks ok rumpled. Comfortable forever, I cannot quit extolling the virtues of linen.

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  6. Yep, love it. There are so many different qualities and some audacious imposters punching above their weight. We gots Irish, Romanian and Italian and as I'm not familiar with their individal characteristics sourcing the one in my head is a bit of a mission.

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  7. I love linen! It's so summery and classic! But I'm a bit rumpled, too, so maybe that's why I like it. Have you been to Gray Line Linen in the Garment District? It's so fun to look at all the different kinds. :)

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  8. Oh please tell me that warm weather is going to stay! Flying to NYC/NJ this month for a meeting and college visit. It's hard to leave the beautiful weather in FL this time of year....
    I love white linen pants, by the way. Look forward to see what you make. The organza go a press cloth? You'll love it. Liked your treadle video yesterday.

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  9. Hi Peter
    Linen?
    Yes!
    My linen trousers: bought at Top Man about 11 yrs ago, worn almost to death, I doubt they would even fasten now. Is this another project of yours I am going to have to copy?
    Love the belt loops btw. I bet you can work out how to replicate them. Feel like doing the whole lot on your treadle powered 66? Just think... you could even use your buttonholer to do the bar tacks.

    Hugs
    G

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  10. It's the texture and the way it breathes. I love linen. It's elegant and never prissy.

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    Replies
    1. Leave it to jen storer to say exactly what I'm thinkin'.

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  11. I love linen too. It feel so good in the summer.

    However I hate sewing with it. It slips around too much and my seams turn out wonky. I'm going to try again to sew some linen since I love wearing it so much. Hopefully I have better results this time.

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    1. I agree that sewing with linen is a bit scary. I think it could be from tossing in the dryer for pretreating. I ever toss linen clotes in the dryer. I always line dry. Next time I'll skip the dryer

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  12. I adore linen and love sewing with it and have no qualms about the wrinkles. Linen is a great textile that washes/presses well and comes in many different hues and hands.

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  13. I always loved linen. I especially love light weight linen blouses especially with pretty little mother of pearl butons. Not a care that they wrinkle. I love the very Brit look of men in rumpled linen suits. It is the perfect fabric.

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  14. I have some green linen that I'd love to turn into a dress. The wrinkle factor gets to me, but it sure would be nice for our hot and humid summers. And, yes, the warm weather in the city today was wonderful!

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  15. The look and feel of freshly ironed linen is lovely. However, the look of wrinkled linen--not just a few creases but looking like the garment was rolled up around a wet swimsuit for a week--not so much.

    I think you're wise to leave off the pocket flaps.

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  16. I adore linen. As you wash it, it becomes more lustrous. If you sweat (gasp), it dries out very quickly. I live near Montreal, where the summers are like India. Linen rocks in that weather. I have a collection of linen aging, and ready for me. And some linen-like, which isn't too shabby either, in great colours, and soft, because some are rayon/cotton, and other good combos. I have such a fabric becoming a shift, in violet. If it is very flattering, I will take the scissors to the real thing. Cathie, in Quebec, where it is till cold, with some snow.

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  17. Ooo, I looooooove linen. I can't wait to see what you do with the pants, because I have an old pair of linen pants from Forever21 (yikes!) that are miserable looking -- I'd love to copy them with some mods. And I've been on an ironing kick lately, so hey, this could really work out.

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  18. "Love?" Obsessed is a more appropriate description of how I feel about linen. My fabric stash is likely 80 per cent linen - and I'm always on the look-out for a new color.
    Cynthia

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  19. I love linen too, would love to have my whole wardrobe of linen. As to the pants definitely leave the flaps off the pockets. so much easier to iron and if you don't iron, a neater look. Also I would leave some ease in the pants if you are going to wash them and linen is definitely washable. Once I sent a linen blouse to the dry cleaner per the instructions and it started to smell awful. never did that again!
    J

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  20. Yes! I love linen. I just found some extra large linen tops in excellent condition at a thrift store that I plan to remodel and cut down. One is a lovely deep violet color the other a cheerful apple green. I also spin and weave and linen(or flax) is my favorite fiber to work with. Finally I love the way linen just gets softer and more mellow with washing and wearing.

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  21. Linen IS summer, though the heavier types can be difficult to press with some irons that do not have high heat. My LB funeral D is an example. I do not care for the rumpled look, so I keep the lines simple, as well as the details and decoration. I always underline. Be sure to well pad all hems and folds, as repeated pressing of sharp creases can eventually cause the fibers to break. The blends (linen/cotton and linen/rayon) are very nice, and easy to sew and wear.

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  22. The smell of freshly ironed linen is magnificent and takes me back to my childhood--at 5-8 years old my job was to iron my father's linen handkerchiefs, our pillow cases and tablecloths. (I think I was only to be trusted at ironing flat things). I've been recently repurposing linen tablecloths, which I can get cheap at yard sales or second hand stores, into garments. Old linen has a different softer feel.

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  23. The white trousers are a BIT snug!?! I came over all peculiar at that photo... And am I the only person in the universe who prefers cotton to linen: a wider variety of prints and colours available in cotton, it's easier to sew, easier to look after, easier to wear. Maybe I'm just the laziest person in the universe...

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    1. No, Kate, I'm with you! I actually like the way linen breathes, but I loathe all the wrinkles. I find them uncomfortable. My favorite is a linen/cotton blend that breathes but doesn't look like a wadded up tissue after 15 minutes of wear. I think linen is great if you have a live-in domestic!

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  24. Peter, it was so fun to meet up with you. Thanks for joining me on the spur of the moment!

    Until next time.

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  25. Hi Peter - I love the look of Linen - but 100% Linen itches me to death!! I prefer a linen blend, preferably cotton, it's easier on my skin and doesn't wrinkle as much - and a rayon-linen blend wears even better!

    Regarding your linen pants, and this is just my opinion - leave all flaps of any kind off of pants! They are just so...flappy.... and unflattering. I often look at pants with flaps being worn and think - boy, that would look so much nicer if those flaps were not sticking out all over the place!

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  26. My mother taught me how to make linen tea towels. Just cut a piece of the proper length and hand hem. We used them to cool cookies out of the oven and dry dishes after our dinner with the 9 kids and parents. Nothing is better than pure Irish linen.

    Even today Iave a couple dozen hand-hemmed linen tea towels.at the ready.

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  27. So much has already been offered in responses, but I do have a few notes to add. The first and probably most important, comes from my mother:"Those are status wrinkles!" So wear that linen in all its wrinkled glory. I love linen, linen blends and most especially embroidered linen of any variety. Take a look at Susan Khalje's book for some great information on handling and working with this great fabric.
    hubs and dishes,
    Karen

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  28. I also love linen. Yes, it does shift around a lot while you're sewing with it, but somehow everything falls into place when the garment is finished. One other plus...it's almost indestructible. I have some shorts and shirts that are at least 10 years old and show no sign of wearing out. IMO they just get better.

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  29. What a timely post!
    I've had a pair of linen capris from Old Navy for a good five years now, and I NEVER wore them until I spent a month in Belize this past February. They. Were. A REVELATION. Long enough to keep away bugs, but loose and light enough to be comfortable. I'm hoping to make a few linen garments this summer based on how much I (now) LOVE linen!

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  30. I love linen too. Good linen gets better with age. I have black, white, and gray in my stash that I'll be using for summer garments. It's so comfortable when the humidity goes up. Rumpled is good when it comes to linen.

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  31. I think linen is essential. It's got a great texture, and can come in any color. I usually like a bit of a blend so it's not ALL wrinkly the first 15 minutes of wearing, but I do have 100% linen items. I'm looking to have a pair of striped linen pants made.

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