How are you, hope your week is going well? This week I want to chat to you about linen fabric for embroidery. For more information on linen fabric you can download the PDF here.
You may have noticed that the Irish cambric linen in the Etsy shop has been out of stock for some time. As you know the good quality finely woven linen that our great Grandmother’s used has become scarce if not impossible to find. Not all Irish linen is manufactured in Ireland but mainly now produced in USA and China. There are still some weavers in Europe – Belgium, France and Switzerland but it is impossible to source them without getting on a flight and doing some serious research. There are many fine “church” linens still produced for ecclesiastical embroidery, and some surface linens such as legacy which are lovely for crewel embroidery/goldwork but none of them have that fine, very close weave that we require for needlepainting and whitework. Below is an example of what I mean.
A few years ago I was fortunate to source a cambric Irish linen from a company in the USA and this is what we have been using up till now but unfortunately they have discontinued it. The company informed me that “the last piece has arrived from our mill – unfortunately fine linen yarns are hard to get for this and there is not a great demand”. (no demand what about us embroiderers!!) I then got in touch with my friend Wollman Bastian of Zweigart Linens to see if he could help and his reply was: I am really sorry I cannot help since there are less and less weavers here in Europe, I would not have any idea where to get it.”
So began a search for a similar linen fabric. For the last few months I have been in touch with every manufacturer I could find worldwide, including the luxury linen bed sheet producers to see if they could supply a similar linen. I received numerous samples by post but the fabric was just not the same quality – too heavy and the weave too loose. But this week I received a sample from Belgium that made my heart sing – it is just beautiful. It is a Belgium linen known as batiste linen – you can read a definition of it here. I mounted a piece into a hoop and tried stitching several bits on it and it is gorgeous!
The bad news is that it is pricey, notably more expensive then the previous linen which I used, which means that when the current linen stocks are depleted there is going to be a 5 – 10% increase in the cost of the whitework kits, this will happen gradually in the next few months. My apologies but this is totally out of my control and I feel strongly about using good quality materials for our embroidery. There seems no point in putting all that work into something of inferior quality. I am sure you agree?
The good news is that the new fabric is an absolute joy to stitch on – and the company has assured me that it will be available on an ongoing basis. The weft and warp are evenly woven and the weave is nice and tight so there is plenty of placement options for your needle and no holes. Being 100% linen it springs back into shape when removed from the hoop and can be washed and ironed with a very hot iron without any damage whatsoever. It is perfect for fine whitework embroidery but also sturdy enough to use alone without a backing fabric for needlepainting. Below is a picture of the previous linen and the new linen. I have blown these up 150% so that you can see the difference in the weave. If you click on each picture you will get an even larger zoom.
The new linen fabric will be available by the metre/pieces as before in about May 2015, in the meantime I have managed to procure a 1300wt Irish Cambric linen which is a little finer than the previous 14HC and limited stocks of this will be available in the Etsy shop shortly.
Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!” Keep smiling and happy stitching! Trish