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sewing with linen fabric

vmorris828 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi, I read that you are suppose to interface the whole piece of linen before you cut out the pattern pieces. OK, I did that, can I cut out the interfacing after I sew the top up. It is linen & I really want it to breath for hot weather. Thanks Val


  1. user-51823 | | #1

    i make less-structured pieces from linen (ie, no linings or facings), so i can only give you an opinion, not experienced advice. i would think that you should do it all at once if the 2 layers are going to 'nest' together well, especially if you need the facing/lining to give the garment body and support. if you don't, why not skip the lining all together and just wear with a slip or camisole?
    it sounds like you are making a really nice piece. can you describe it?

  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    Linen has so much body that I can't imagine why you would need to interface the entire thing just to sew it together unless there were lots of tiny, odd-shaped pieces that would get stretched out of shape otherwise.

    On ready-to-wear, many linen garments have no interfacing, facings, or linings--just bias bindings and narrow rolled hems.

    If you use fusible interfacing, it might be quite hard to take out after the garment is completed.

  3. solosmocker | | #3

    I am of the same mindset as Teaf and MSM. That being said, I am passionate about sewing linen. It is my favorite fabric and I have sewn lots of it over the years. I have discovered there are two ways to sew it. You can have a garment that is interfaced,lined, very structured, and headed for the drycleaners almost every time you wear it. That may be your preference. You can also have a linen garment that is comfy in the heat, soft, and a dream to wear, and you can throw in the wash if necessary. Thats how most of my linen is sewn. I wash it all in the washing machine the minute it gets in the house. This gives it a wonderful soft dimply effect that seems to repel the wrinkles inherent with a structured garment. I then make my garment with serged seams that I topstitch either singly or with a twin needle. This makes a very sturdy garment that lasts wonderfully in the wash without fraying apart. Garment styles need to be simple with this type of sewing as in no tailoring or facings. There is nothing like a soft pair of pants on a summer day of prewashed linen. I hope you give this a try. My coin has another side. If I were going to sew a tailored/ structured garment as in a suit for work, linen would not be my choice. Hope this gives you some food for thought. solo

    Edited 6/29/2007 7:32 pm ET by solosmocker

    1. vmorris828 | | #4


      1. user-51823 | | #6

        still would love to hear a more detailed description of what you're making, and a photo if possible

      2. User avater
        matzahari | | #7

        i agree with solosmocker.

        unlined and well washed linen is amazing and only gets better with age. I recently took apart a thread bare pair of FLAX brand pants and made a pattern because  I adored them so and never wanted to lose the original pair to the trash bin.  now i have several nenw ones in differnt solid colors of linen.

        I never interface and use linen all the time. unstructured pattersn that fall softly and wear well when wrinkled are the way to go.

        1. sewon | | #8

          As it happens, I'm wearing a linen blouse (fabric from timmel) today as I read this. I love this fabric - it's just so comfortable from the moment you put it on, and  yet dressy enough for work.

          Sandra Betzina recommends ironing linen as soon as you buy it, before laundering. She thinks it may help minimize wrinkles.

          I totally agree that linen is comfort wear - try for unstructured patterns. As to interfacing, I avoid it on everything. Linen doesn't need it, imho.


          1. MarshaK | | #9

            You said you don't use interfacing on anything, does this mean you don't use it on collars, facings or front button bands on shirts and blouses? I really hate the way some interfaced bands kind of just stick out in all the wrong places, even using the right interfacing for the fabric. If I can get away without using it I will. Marsha.

          2. sewon | | #10

            That's right, I don't use it on collars, facings or cuffs - for a tailored jacket I might use a sew in interfacing (but if you buy the one that's guaranteed not to shrink, pre wash it anyway, trust me on this). I don't even own any fusible interfacing anymore because I invested a small fortune in different types, and in a press, and still it was always a gamble.

            I will use the fabric itself for an interfacing, depending on the fabric. Or, if the fabric has a pattern that may show through, I use cotton batiste. I buy it just for that purpose.

            Also, I found that I really like my ready to wear blouses that do not have a facing - so instead, I extend the front of the blouse pattern, fold it twice (so there are three layers of fabric) and it's a self facing. Usually I add a line of stitching on the edge. I find this looks much more professional than an attached  facing. 

          3. WandaJ | | #11

            Do you have a good-priced source for cotton batiste, and is it 100% cotton, and is it available online?

          4. sewingkmulkey | | #12

            Sewon - I totally agree with all that you have said.  I simply don't trust fusible interfacings.  (Call me "old school" if you must but I've sewn professionally for many years and never had complaints).  When I do interface I either use a layer of the fashion fabric, cotton batiste or silk organza.  These choices depend, of course, on the fashion fabric I'm sewing.  I've also used your technique for extending the placket area on blouses instead of using a separate interfacing fabric.   I feel so vindicated that someone else agrees with me!  Thank you!!!


          5. solosmocker | | #13

            Just have to throw in my two cents. I use nothing but fusibles. I think if the right fusible is used and it has been pretreated then it should not be a problem. There are TONS of different fusibles out there and I decided to buy lots of different ones and try them out. I quickly found out that pellon products were not for me and never had good results with them. However if I used a 100% cotton WOVEN interfacing, or a fusible nylon knit, or a weft interfacing, with the appropriate fabric, I had no problem. I am an experienced, persnickety sewist and have been pleased with my results. Just a view from the other side of the fence. There's more than two ways to sew a seam!;)solo

          6. jane4878 | | #14

            I've been enjoying lurking on this post.  I'm taking a beginning garment class tomorrow and I chose Burda 3274 (longer one with short sleeves) and linen http://www.candlelightvalleyfabrics.com/miva/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=CVF&Product_Code=1LBFD&Category_Code=LINEN&Product_Count=11

            I was told in the past to line with batiste and after much searching on-line for reasonably priced batiste (check out e-bay) I found some in my own backyard in nearby Lethbridge, Alberta for $7.99/m CAD, 100 % cotton.  I talked to the teacher yesterday and she agreed that would be a good choice for the project.  I love linen, but I want the coolness and simplicity of it.  I'll stick with the wrinkles rather than follow the advice in Fabric Savvy to interface the entire piece.

            Thank you guys for your advice...now to get enough nerve to cut into that beautiful fabric!


          7. MarshaK | | #16

            My favorite shirt pattern has the front band as you described, fabric extended on the front, folded over twice and stitched, even so the patterns always show a strip of interfacing fused or sewn into this 'band'. This makes the band much too stiff in my opinion, so I've stopped putting interfacing there. Nice to know others are doing this too, that it's 'allowed'---although my Home Ec teacher would be extremely not pleased by the liberties we are taking nowadays with the sewing methods we were taught way back when. You mentioned you had acquired a press along with different types of interfacings, I'm wondering if the press is the kind that I had posted a question about several days ago that no one replied to? I'm thinking of purchasing one so I can fuse tricot knit interfacing to sueded fabric to add body to it. Marsha.

          8. sewon | | #17

            I'll try to explain the 3 folds (although I think a previous poster did a fine job).

            For a 1.5 inch front placket, extend the front of the pattern at the front edge another  3".  Mark line 1 1.5" fron out edge, line 2 another 1.5" further in (which would have been the stitching line on your original pattern, you have to remember to ignore that original cutting line, and line 3 at what would be the inside edge of the placket (the line closest to your arm). I also mark the center front line, cause that's where the buttons will go.

            If you are going to have a collar, simply fold along line 1, to the inside, then again along line 2, also to the inside, so that your first fold sits on line 3. On the button hole side, I like to topstitch the outside edge and line 3, to give a more predominant looking placket.

            If you are not going to have a collar, but use a fabric band at the neck, then the fold is a little different. Fold along line 1 to the outside of the fabric, then next fold to inside, baste across top and bottom, attach your band, then flop the placket out (sorry, can't think of a better word than "flop")

            Another suggestion - check the next time your fabric store has a sale on patterns for a self-facing pattern. Even if they don't have your size, buy the pattern for the instructions. I do this all the time. I use a patern drafting software, but buy patterns for the instructions and for the design ideas.

            Someone asked about where to buy batiste. Sorry, I just don't have my list of online suppliers handy, but you could do a google search. Seems to me the last place I bought from had a name like "distinctive sewing". 

            And the press -  I bought one made by reliable. It works very well, but frankly since I stopped wrestling with fusible interfacing, I haven't used it.



          9. Ralphetta | | #18

            When you do it this way with a collar and you have the top buttons undone so that the shirt folds back, are the "lapels" faced, or do you just have a stitched down band running vertically at the edge?  I prefer that underside  of the shirt to look finished and smooth like the collar because I very seldom button things up to the neck. I thought you were describing a way to do that also,but I guess I misunderstood.  I think I need to keep extending the upper portion (facing) into the shoulder seam for the look I like, right?

          10. sewon | | #20

            I'm not sure I quite understand the question about the self-fabric placket with a collar. I use a collar stand, so the inside looks finished with the top buttons not done up.  Sorry, I'm not quite sure how to explain it better.


          11. sewon | | #21

            Ralpheta, I think I understand your question better. There are no lapels on underside. The underside is the same width all the way up. It's the collar stand that gives you the finished looking underside so you can wear it open.

          12. Ralphetta | | #22

            Thanks for your patience.  I think we're in sync.  My whole reason for asking questions was that I thought someone had a way to to do the triple fold and have another option.  Yes, I've used what you described, but many times it is very obviously the wrong side of the fabric exposed at the throat.  Picky me feels like something is showing that shouldn't if I'm going to the trouble of making exactly what i want.  It all stems from the fact that I look best with the collar open.  I'll say it for you...picky picky picky.

          13. User avater
            Becky-book | | #23

            Yes, if you want to do away with a separate piece for the front facing AND have the lapel look you will have a fold line instead of a seam line and the top of the extension should mirror the neck edge all the way to the shoulder seam. You can top stitch the button hole side close to the fold and 1.5 inches over to give the look of a stitched on placket.


          14. MarshaK | | #19

            I think your instructions on how to sew the three folds on a shirt front was meant for someone else.  Marsha.

        2. Ralphetta | | #15

          The timing on this discussion couldn't be better.  I just unpacked my summer clothes because the temperature has reached 90 and is headed upward.  I hadn't realized until then that I had acquired five white linen shirts from the thrift stores last summer.  I got them at different times and they are not alike.  One of the best things about thrift stores is that you can very clearly see how garments are going to launder/wrinkle.  I also got a great pair of putty colored lightweight linen pants cut like jeans.  They are weightless and SO cool to wear.

          Could you be more specific about how you fold 3 times instead of face?  I want to be sure that I understand correctly.  Thanks.

    2. katina | | #5

      Yes - I love linen too; thanks very much for your great topstitching tip.


  4. SewNancy | | #24

    I can't imagine interfacing anything more than the facings in linen. What I love about it is how cool it is to wear and it has so much body anyway. I wash it at least twice to give the wrinkles a soft, rumpled look. I like these wrinkles better than the sharp creases that occur in unwashed linen. I also want to toss it in the washing machine.

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