This past week I have been working with Essex Linen from Robert Kaufman. It is 55% linen and 45% cotton. These fabrics are from the Balboa Collection by Erin Dollar. I know nothing about linen or linen/cotton blends, but decided to jump right in and make a quilt. These fabrics and kits will be available at Carol’s Quilt Shop in a few days.
Linen/Cotton Blend Look and Feel
The first thing you notice about these fabrics is the look. The weave is a little looser and the fabric is slightly thicker than 100% cotton. Some may be turned off by just this alone but keep exploring this fabric and you have surprises in store.
It feels soft in your hand and has a beautiful drape. It even sounds different when you work with it. You know how some fabrics rustle when you work with them? This fabric is quiet. It whispers to you. I like that.
Prewashing Linen/Cotton Blend
Normally I prewash every fabric. Since I am not familiar with this type of fabric, I chose not to prewash. I have a friend who has worked with this fabric and is in the process of testing it now. I will follow up with her results.
Working With Linen/Cotton
When using cotton fabric, I often use spray starch or some other pressing spray to help with wrinkles and coaxing the grainlines into place. I found I didn’t need any of that at all with this fabric. Even the wrinkles from being rolled onto the bolt released easily with a dry iron.
The fabric is easy to fold and smooth out on the cutting mat. It stays in place as you cut. If you’re sub-cutting strips, be careful to lay the strips out straight.
When I noticed the looser weave, I was ready to see raveled edges all over the place as I pieced the quilt. But that was not the case. The picture below was taken after I pressed the last seam of the quilt top. This is the worst raveled edge I could find. As you can see, it’s not much and appears to be along the crosswise grain. I can live with this.
Pressing this fabric was easy. I used a dry iron with no sprays of any kind. The seams pressed beautifully. They stayed in place throughout the entire piecing process.
I can’t wait to see and feel the quilt after layering and quilting. I’m all about how a quilt feels as it covers the body. I think the weight and drape of this quilt will be perfect. I’ll keep you posted with quilting and results this week.
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