My Modern Sampler: Using Linen in Quilts

After finishing the blocks for my modern sampler, I ordered several shades of Essex linen/cotton blend to consider for the background. I know I said I’d never use linen again after the last struggle, but I’ve learned several things since. So, if you’re thinking of using linen in your quilts for its nice texture, read my tips at the end of this post.

Here I’m trying various layouts on two different potential background fabrics.  I hung the ironed fabric and pinned the blocks to it, trying out various layouts and different colors of background fabric.

essex linen

Here is the Pewter background

modern sampler

Here is the Natural background, with a different attempt at layout

I decided I liked the natural background better than they gray.  Then I took it all down and made a rectangle on my design “wall”, outlining the approximate finished size with blue painter’s tape.

modern sampler

Here is the layout I decided to use, with some of the sashing in place

And here are my thoughts on using linen in quilts:
–The linen I used the first time was “real”, 100% linen. Remember that from your childhood, when summer clothes were supposed to be linen? Think wrinkles! And avoid 100% linen for your quilts
–The “linen” of the Essex brand actually is a linen/cotton blend, so it has a nice texture but is less wrinkle-prone and tighter woven than the linen I used previously.
–Pre-wash the linen blend, even if you don’t pre-wash anything else. Wash in warm water and dry on warm so it will get its shrinking done and be more dense and stable.
–Before you pre-wash, serge or zig-zag the raw edges together to prevent fraying! This worked great and “wasted” only about 1/4″ on each raw edge, much less than would have frayed. And there was no mess of threads in the washing machine.

How have you done with using fabrics other than quilting cotton in quilts?


9 thoughts on “My Modern Sampler: Using Linen in Quilts

  1. I haven’t used much other than quilting cotton. I do have one glorious quilt made with my sister, inspired by and centered by a piece of embroidery from a Mexican dress. The cotton of the dress is a little heavier and coarser than we usually use, but it is cotton. And I’ve used a small amount of cotton/poly blend, but would only choose that again in very special circumstances. I’ve wondered about plisse and the effects you could get from the pre-puckered fabric, but I haven’t tried it yet. (note to self…)

    Once you have sashing, how much of the background will show?

  2. Your Modern Sampler is looking great, I love the natural linen background. I am using 100% linen in an improv quilt (yet to be finished) and found that using a pressing aid such as Best Press really helped with keeping the fabric stable, although there are still wrinkles 😦 but I’m hoping that by the time I’m finished with the quilting the wrinkles won’t really be a feature any more.

  3. Pingback: YOW! I’m teaching curved piecing! | Zippy Quilts

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