Caring for Linen

Part of our Maker Guides

Let's look at care instructions for your Merchant and Mills 185g dressweight linen.

When you get started on your project, your first choice is going to be whether to wash your linen before you make your project. This linen is pre-washed at the mill, so if you want to skip pre-washing it’s generally OK. This is a nice option especially if you’re working with several yards of fabric and you have a small washing machine. With that said, pre-washing fabric in the same way you plan to wash and dry your finished project is ALWAYS the safest way to go. If I am making something I know I am going to wash and machine dry with a regular load (such as my linen pajamas, for example), I will usually pre-wash and machine dry it before I cut it. But if I am making something I know I’ll hang-dry, like a dress, I sometimes won’t bother with pre-washing. It’s up to you what you are most comfortable with.

If you do choose to machine wash and machine dry, we recommend a delicate wash cycle with other soft items in similar colors, cold water, and a delicate dry cycle. Linen garments definitely benefit over time from hang drying if you want to keep your garment as close to its original condition as possible. It gets softer over time when machine dried, and as with all fabric, heated drying will cause some shrinkage and shape change over time.

When you iron your uncut linen for your project, as well as when you iron your finished garments, I recommend that you keep to a medium-high heat setting, rather than the super high heat that many irons indicate for linen. If you’re ironing a tablecloth or linen upholstery, the high heat is great, but on our delicate dressweight linen you can end up with shiny areas if you aren’t careful with the heat. If you can swing the timing, it’s easiest to get wrinkles out of linen when it is just slightly damp. Whenever you iron linen, plenty of steam is always helpful.

Over the years I have noticed that if I take a lot of care in cutting my projects along the grainline, making sure my thread tension is nice and even, and topstitching where appropriate to keep the seam allowances straight, my finished garments need a lot less ironing and several of them I never iron at all!


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