Linen: use with caution

A while ago I blogged about quilting with linen and voile. You can read that post here. In short, I made a mini that mixed regular quilting cotton with voile and a linen blend to see if it would all come out ok in the wash. It did, so I wholeheartedly encouraged you to try it! Now I feel it might be necessary to amend with a few words of caution.

Recently Rachel from Stitched in Color shared about some problems she’s had with linen unraveling after multiple washes (click here to read her post). Tragedy! We work way too hard on our quilts to have them unravel. Right away I was concerned that I may have steered you wrong. So I threw my mini in the wash with several loads during a recent laundry marathon and I’m happy to report it is still intact.

Ok, this is an old picture but I promise it still looks like this.

Ok, this is an old picture but I promise it still looks like this.

One reason I may be getting different results than Rachel is that the Anna Maria Horner linen may be better suited to quilting than the Essex linen that unraveled in Rachel’s quilts. AMH is a quilter after all, so I’m sure she chose her blend carefully to be suitable for patchwork.

Rachel is performing some tests of her own so be sure to watch for those results if you’re interested in working with Essex linen. For now, I feel comfortable with any of AMH’s linens (she has some real beauties!) but I would not want to use others without more tests.

Finish it up Friday: quilting with voile and linen

Did you see yesterday’s post about the “You show me yours, I’ll show you mine” stash linky party? I’m so excited to see what people come up with over the course of the next week!

But today is all about branching out from your usual stash and using voile and linen blends. Have you tried them yet? I keep seeing people online using voile and linen and I keep wondering: is that ok? Are there any special rules?

I decided to test for myself, making this mini:


The central square is voile, two of the tulip leaves are voile, and all of the pink flower stamens on the top row are linen. All of the voile and linen are Anna Maria Horner.

I did not pre-wash any of it or change my needle or turn down my iron. I did everything exactly the same as I usually do.



I even washed it at the end to make sure everything would come out ok. If the fabrics shrunk at a different rate it’s not noticeable, even where the linen and voile are sewn directly together.

So here’s the bottom line:  I think you can use AMH’s voile and linen blend interchangably with regular quilting cotton! Good to know, right?

Even though the results were good, working with voile was a bit of a pain. I did not enjoy piecing with it, especially the y-seam for the tulip.

On the other hand working with linen was lovely! You know those really close up pictures of fabric that capture the texture you can’t really see with your eyes? With the linen you can see it. I also loved how crisply the seams pressed and I think it would make a nice heavy backing for a winter quilt.

They’re more expensive per yard but both come on 54 inch bolts. A fat quarter is bigger than you’re used to! A yard is downright humongous!

I think this quote from Anna Maria Horner sums it up pretty good: “how could an industry which was built upon making art of any and every available scrap of cloth come to rely upon only one variety of fabric from which to create its’ art form?”

I enjoyed branching out!

Linking up with Crazy Mom!