Karli in Brussels color Espresso

We love linen.


Photo of Karli in Brussels color Espresso

Linen used to be one of those fabrics that scared me.  As a new sewist I had a bad experience with some “fiddly” linen that I couldn’t quite get to line up perfectly.  Add in the tendency to wrinkle quite easily and I was ready to quit sewing.  From that point on I swore off linen.  Isn’t that the saddest story you’ve ever heard?


Don’t cry yet.  The story isn’t over.  Many years later, I gave linen a second shot.  This time, it was with the right linen.  It behaved exactly the way I wanted it to.  It draped perfectly on my body.  It washed like a dream. And it was the most beautiful color of Espresso.  Bonus points if you can guess which linen I’m talking about here.  I think we know the rest of the story.  If you’ve seen our shop Instagram, you know we are all quite fanatical about linen.  


Let’s dive into the different types of linen we carry, why we love them, and discuss recommendations based on your skill level.  


Essex Linen

55% linen / 45% cotton

Width 42”

Highlights : Sturdy. All purpose. Wrinkles easily.  Beginner friendly linen!


Essex linen is a medium-weight linen that lends itself very well to quilting.  In fact, that was the first thing I did with Essex.  If you’re a lover of crinkly, vintage looking quilts, add in a little Essex.  This is one of those times that it makes me happy to have a wrinkly linen.  The quilting just enhances this linens super powers and makes it the yummiest thing you’ve ever seen.  


That’s not all that Essex is good for though.  I love Essex for bag making, jackets, pants, tunics, and anything else you can possibly dream up.  It’s a great all purpose linen.  It holds it’s structure quite well and doesn’t “bag out” in the rear end of pants like other linens tend to do.   Remember though, Essex likes to wrinkle.  Most people know that when going into a relationship with linen, but if that drives you nuts, there’s another linen for you.  


Brussels Washer Linen (above is Brussels color Blue Jay)

55% linen/ 45% rayon

Width 52”

Highlights: Great for Garments. Less wrinkly.  Beginner friendly linen! 


If you guessed that my favorite linen is Brussels, you’re right!  This linen packs a punch with it’s affordability, ease of use and wear.  The rayon content in Brussels Washer linen gives the linen the most amazing drape.  The best part is that I am often able to pull my garments straight out of the dryer ( or off the clothesline) and wear immediately with ZERO ironing.  As a busy Mom, that kind of convenience is a must!  


I often buy Brussels if I’m trying a pattern out for the first time.  I am a big fan of making “wearable muslins” and this is usually my fabric of choice.  And if I’m being perfectly honest, my Brussels pieces are usually preferred over anything else! 


Limerick Linen (Karli's top is Limerick and Jenny's wearing Brussels Black)

100% linen

Width 57”

Highlights : Lightweight. Wrinkles easily.  Intermediate friendly linen!


If you’re looking for an affordable 100% linen, this is your new BFF.  Limerick is the epitome of what most of us know of linen.  It’s luxurious, slightly sheer and wrinkles fairly easily.  I’ve grown to love the wrinkle aspect of linens and we are living during a time that lived-in rumpled clothes are in style.  It’s never been so easy to be stylish.  Picture the most breezy, comfy, barely-there summer tunic.  Even on a hot summer day, I can handle long sleeves in limerick linen.  


Limerick also lends itself quite well to becoming the most perfectly almost sheer curtains.  I recently used some to make a sidelight curtain for my front door.  It was a fun 20 minute project and now curious eyes can’t see into my home when I don’t want them to.  


Cairo Linen (photo is Cairo color Avocado)

100% linen

Width 54”

Highlights: Antique wash, mid weight, Intermediate friendly linen!


Cairo is quickly achieving a spot as my favorite linen of all time.  The antique wash on this linen is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  It feels like butter and washes amazingly.  Although on the bolt this linen appears to not have desired opacity for pants or skirts, I can confirm that I have the coolest Zadie Jumpsuit in all the land, and nobody has managed to get a peek of my undies through the linen!  


Cairo is incredibly easy to work with.  The only reason I consider it an intermediate linen is because when cutting, the linen has the tendency to shift around on you.  I made the mistake of not paying close attention when cutting and wound up with some very non symmetrical pattern pieces.  Use extra pins or pattern weights when cutting, and make sure to go slowly and not tug too much on the fabric.  


We currently only offer Cairo in our favorite Avocado green color but maybe if we all show Cairo linen a little love, we will see some new colors trickle in our shop doors soon!



This is just a small sample of the amazing linens we carry at Sew to Speak.  Our staff works every day to source high quality fabrics for our customers.   While we do have many linens come and go, you can always rely on the above mentioned linens to be available to you on a regular basis.   We just got the most delightful shipment of Merchant and Mills linens of varying weights and I personally can’t wait to sew with some of it.  Hopefully they will also achieve a permanent spot in our fabric lineup.  


Happy Sewing, friends!



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