Tips for cutting linen

Hey everyone! I’ve been working lately with linen, which is a wonderful and sometimes frustrating experience. Linen feels lovely. It’s rumply, and soft, and is very comfortable to wear.

Linen is not what I’d call a “beginner” fabric, though.

Why? Linen is a little slippery to cut and sew.

If you mainly sew with medium-weight cotton (or polycotton) then you may find it is easy to sew without any pins: you stick your seam together, maybe you press it, and you can sew along without the fabric shifting around too much.

That’s not always the case with linen!

I wanted to show you a simple trick to help you cut long, straight, lines in a piece of linen. If you do any quilting, this is invaluable!

Have you ever pulled a thread in an item of clothing? This is exactly what you want to do with your piece of linen. Use a tapestry or other blunt nosed needle to pick up a single thread, and gently pull it up.

It’s fiddly, I’m not going to lie!

Individual linen threads are not terribly strong, and will snap. When this happens, don’t let the gathers unravel, just hunt about with your needle for the taut part of the thread and pull it up again.

Once your thread is removed, you have a perfectly straight line to cut along.

This is also a great way to square up your fabric to find the straight grain. This is important if you are sewing garments! If you cut your patterns pieces at an angle to the grain of the fabric, your seams can twist after a few washes. I think most of my husband’s t-shirts do this down the side seams, for example!

I find that pulling the thread is fiddly, but not as annoying as the alternatives I’ve tried:

  • cutting with the rotary cutter, one section at a time (involves a lot of adjusting the linen fabric, and though the cut is straight, it doesn’t follow the grain line!)
  • folding the fabric on top of itself and doing one rotary cut (very inaccurate and thus not really a viable alternative at all)
  • drawing a line with chalk and cutting along that (again, involves adjusting the fabric, and you don’t cut as straight OR along the grain line!)

Cutting curvy lines in linen is a different matter altogether. I haven’t yet got any really useful tips for this, apart from using fabric weights to stop the fabric shifting around. My insights extend to:

  • Tins of food work fine!
  • Use a lot.

🙂

4 thoughts on “Tips for cutting linen

  1. Hi Jess. One little tip I have found that makes the thread pulling easier, twist the thread to be pulled in your fingers to make it tighter spun- it breaks less that way. 🙂

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