Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Made by a Fabricista: Luscious Linen Culottes

Do you wear linen?  I never did until a few years ago when I bought a long sleeved linen shirt for gardening.  I would alternate wearing it and a cotton chambray shirt when I worked outside, and I quickly noticed that the linen shirt didn't smell as much, or get as dirty as the chambray shirt did.  It also didn't seem as hot to wear.


What I had figured out, was something known for centuries by people in hot climates. Linen is naturally resistant to bacteria (thus cutting down on odor), dirt repellant, as well as both absorbent  and quick-drying! It also has a naturally high SPF factor, high luster, and strong, long-lasting fibers.  And the cooling factor? I read that studies have shown that skin temperature can be lowered 2-3 degrees when wearing linen clothing, compared to wearing cotton clothing!


It does have one drawback, and that drawback may be a deal breaker for some people- it wrinkles like crazy.  Just sit down once, and you will start to see lines wherever the fabric bent.  I like to look at the wrinkles as just a "design element" and as a way to tell real linen from the imposters.  It's a good idea to not tumble dry your linen bone dry, to make it a little easier to release the wrinkles from when it comes out of the dryer.


Linen comes in all colors, varying thicknesses and weaves.  For this outfit, I used three pieces of linen- all from Fabric Mart's incredible linen selections.  The pants were a lightweight soft blue/grey/green plaid, the top is a lightweight bright mint green, and the shrug is a tissue weight silver knit from last year. 

The culottes are from Hot Patterns "Camera-Ready Culottes" pattern.  I had made a muslin of them a few weeks ago, and had worn them out a couple of times to get a feel for whether or not I wanted to use this extra nice linen in this pattern. The pant leg was super wide, and I did feel a little clown-like in them, so when I made them in the linen, I reduced the leg circumference by about 6" per leg. They still measure a generous 30" around the bottom of the leg. Here's a close-up of the cuff which I made a little wider than the pattern, at 2-1/2" wide.


I also felt that the waist was too bulky and stretched out of shape, so for this version, I used a wide grosgrain ribbon as my waist facing.  This is a great technique for any waist facing that you want to make as light and firm as possible.  I couldn't find any grey or light blue grosgrain in my local stores, so I went with a navy.  This one is 1-1/2" wide.  I stitched it down at every seam, dart, and pleat to hold it in place.


For the top, I used another new Hot Patterns pattern- the Plain and Simple Woven T-shirt and Dress.  Despite the name, this pattern turned out to be anything but Plain and Simple.  To get the fit close to the illustration, I ended up going two full sizes smaller from what was recommended for my measurements.  I also adjusted the shoulder and added waist darts for a little more shaping. Definitely more work than I was planning on, but I really love this new top- mostly for the color!  It's so Springy!


For the shrug, I used a newer McCall's pattern 7135.   I shortened the sleeves by about 6", and left all of the edges raw.  I bought the silver linen blend knit from Fabric Mart last year, and I'm pretty sure that it is mostly polyester with just a touch of linen to give it a pretty texture.  But it is just perfect for wearing on a cool Spring day.


The scarf is made from silk chiffon, also from Fabric Mart. I love a lightweight scarf for Spring.  They are so easy to make too!  Read more about making scarves from fabric here


If you haven't already tried sewing with linen, give it a try!   There really are no special skills or techniques needed.  It's incredibly easy to sew with. I bet you will love it as much as I do.

Happy Sewing!
Ann
SewBaby News

10 comments:

  1. The only linen I have is a woven linen and rayon blend, and I find it prickly to wear. Is it me? Or did I make the wrong fabric choice? I'd love to hear if anyone else finds linen prickly.

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    1. I have seen some heavyweight linens that do seem to be more "raw", and I think they might be prickly to wear. But the lighter weight linen that I've sewn with is much more refined and smooth. Definitely not prickly.

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  2. When I was pregnant with my daughter in the summer of 2008, I was part of a teacher program at the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation here in VA, where I was able to dress as an historical interpreter. They chose for me to interpret a Colonial woman from the early 1600s and even though I was dressed head to toe in linen, with a huge baby belly, I was fine. Linen is very cooling. I did make sure to drink a lot of water, though. ;-) The people in charge were so sweet, they kept checking in on me, just in case.

    You look so cute in this. I absolutely love the top, what a beautiful mint color for you!

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    1. Thanks, Dina. That sounds like a really fun experience!

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  3. Hmm... I have some linen, but haven't tried it yet. I think it will need to jump up to my soon-to-sew pile!

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    1. Hi Angela,
      I didn't mention this before, but it is a good idea to preshrink linen before you sew it. Some of the looser weaves will shrink up quite a bit. It also becomes softer with repeated washings.

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  4. Your pieces look great on you.I love sewing with linen! The crisp seams ,,the luster, the sophistication of a linen garment. having said that, I'm careful about what I use it for ...mostly skirts, above the elbow sleeved shirts and loose jackts. Sandra Betzina told us when I attended a week long workshop in Halifax, to wash linen in hot water and dry in a hot dryer three times and it would prevent the wrinkling. I find this works wonderfully on high end linen but not on all linens. Worth a try though, don't you think?

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    1. Thanks, Diana! I will try that technique! I do think that this is a high end linen, so I hope it works!

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  5. Linen is so wonderfully cool to wear and Fabric Mart has always had a wonderful selection. I have several bias sleeveless dresses for the worst of summer heat and love how I can feel nicely dressed in the midst of humid summers. I love your scarf collection as well since I am a scarf junkie and love how what used to be scraps (that 1/2 yard of leftover knit, for example) is now a new scarf in my wardrobe.

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    1. I know- scarves can really make a whole outfit work, can't they? Do you have any good ways to store yours?

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