Linen for Quilts - yay or nay?

Linen and I go waaaay back.  My very first quilt was sashed with 100% natural linen.  I love the nubby texture and earthy shade.  I used linen quite a bit in my patchwork until....  Until I realized it wasn't being very nice to my quilting cottons.

_MG_9868lg.jpg

Linen is a heavier, stronger fiber than cotton.  100% linen is typically a loose weave.  It's shifty nature makes precise piecing difficult.  But the real problems arise with regular wash and wear.  If you combine quilting cottons and linens with a 1/4" seam allowance, the linen seam allowance will eventually unravel, often allowing the seam to burst open.  The weight of linen can also stress fabrics it's combined width.  Voile, double gauze and the like may rip or develop small stress holes.

Ask me how I know.

finished linen seam.jpg

It is possible to successfully combine linen and quilting cottons for patchwork.  Quilting densely will help, as can a wider seam allowance.  Here is a post all about quilting with linen

Four years ago I made my friend a quilt combining quilting cotton and linen.  I used regular 1/4" seam allowances, so I finished all linen seam allowances with a zigzag stitch.  I'm glad to report that the seams have held!  Her quilt gets lots of love from a boisterous family full of young children - the gold standard test.  Wink.


linen fabrics rilfe paper and essex.jpg

Somehow I have quite a stash of Essex linens and misc. canvas prints.  Which got me thinking...  Canvas is a good candidate to combine with linen, since it matches it's weight and strength.  These could play well together as an all-linen/canvas quilt.  

linen patchwork.jpg

Naturally, I started one!  I'm feeling an older girl vibe - something for a twin bed.  I'm sewing my half square triangle blocks with a short stitch length (1.5) and 1/2" seam allowances.  I'll be sure to quilt this one densely as well.  Don't you love that Alice canvas?  It's still in stock here.

Quilting with Linen.jpg

My quilt is going to include a wide variety of Essex linens, a few Rifle Paper canvas fabrics and this fab new Poolside linen canvas from Cotton & Steel.  Always feels great to use what I have!  If you're interested in making a linen or linen/canvas quilt, Crosscut Sewing Co., Cottoneer and The Confident Stitch all have nice selections.

Poolside Cotton & Steel canvas

Can you guess what I'm going to do with these giant half square triangle blocks?