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hand wash or dry clean linen???
ahrizel
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ahrizel
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Date: 4/15/13 6:05 PM

I got a gift certificate to Fashion Fabric club, and their linen is on sale. It seem like every one of the all linen fabrics said hand wash or dry clean only?! I can see some of the linens being dry clean, depending on the fabric and what you are going to make with it. I'm making part of a renaissance outfit with it and it has to be machine washable. I've used linen before and have machine washed and dried it with no problems. Of course you get the usual shrinkage and major wrinkles, but that is normal. The fabric would be prewashed before I used it, probably twice. Is most of this cya, or is linen supposed to be dry cleaned or least not machine washed? I've washed fabrics before that said dry clean only and had good results. though some of them were taking a risk. Just want to be sure before I order.
Mary

tlmck3
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tlmck3
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Date: 4/15/13 7:15 PM

Linen is one of the oldest fabrics in existence and people have been washing it for millennia. Yes, it will lose its fresh, crisp, shiny, new-fabric sheen and get wrinkly and may shrink and possibly the dye may fade, but as long as you know all that and appreciate linen for what it is, you should be fine washing it. It will just get softer and drapier the more you wash it. I find drying it in the dryer makes it even softer and the older and softer it gets, the less wrinkly.

Here's what the Ulster Linen Company has to say about dry cleaning linen:

Ulster Linen Company "Why Dry Clean?"

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I am going for a level of perfection that is only mine... Most of the pleasure is in getting that last little piece perfect...Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just keep showing up and doing the work.

Chuck Close, painter, printmaker, photographer

Hope has two lovely daughters: Anger and Courage

St. Augustine

joyoussprite
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joyoussprite
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Washington USA
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Date: 4/15/13 7:41 PM

I wash all my linen (I just made a bunch of linen pants for my internship in India). I washed it on hot and dried it on hot to try and get all the shrinking out of the way up front. Now I just wash and dry in cool water/low temp. It works great.

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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Date: 4/15/13 8:29 PM

I am a diehard follower of the Abuse Your Linen philosophy--particularly for my Renaissance garb, which gets worn hard. But when in doubt (ie, using yardage from an unfamiliar source), I always test a piece first.

One of my happiest surprises was an embroidered linen blend from JA, ridiculously marked "dry clean only." Since I was hoping to use it for a chemise, that wasn't an option for me. I was concerned that the linen would shrink and the 100% poly embroidery would not, giving me a rumpled, puckery disaster. So I cut a 6x6" swatch and sent it through with my towels. It came out perfectly! I was then able to confidently wash the whole bolt, with absolutely lovely results.

The only time I've had any trouble with washing linen was with the linen damask in my avatar corset (which was from Fabrics-store.com, where I buy 90% of my linen). It actually pilled badly in the wash/dry, and I was worried about it getting worse. So I only sent it through that one time--enough to get the worst shrinkage out--and now I handwash it.

Since you're making period garb, you won't want your linen to have any of the chemical finishes that give it a crisp, shiny, or wrinkle-resistant hand (and consequently require dry cleaning)--so wash away!

------
~Gem in the prairie

RobbieK
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RobbieK
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Date: 4/16/13 8:08 AM

I live in the South and wear linen year round. If it isn't wrinkled somewhat, then you know it isn't "real" linen. As someone else said, wash and dry on hot (I do it 2 or 3 times) and thereafter on cool. I also remove mine from the dryer before it is bone dry and either finger press it or, if I"m feeling industrious, I iron it. Of course, it's wrinkled before I"m out the door.

Something that I found to help with the wrinkles is underlining with silk organza. I wash and dry that before I use it, too.

mastdenman
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Date: 4/16/13 11:44 AM

I prewash linen multiple times too. It makes it less prone to wrinkling and also preshrinks the linen. If you are using a dyed linen, the color will likely fade, but a natural color like oatmeal will stay the same.

------
Marilyn

January 2009 to January 2010 81 yards out and 71yards in January 2010 to the present 106.7 yards out and 146.5 yards in. January 2011 to the present: 47 yards out and 69 yards in.

ahrizel
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ahrizel
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Date: 4/16/13 12:35 PM

Well your replies helped confirm my own opinion. Unless you need the linen to stay crisp for dress clothing maybe, then machine wash and dry is fine. Especially since I'm using this for historical costuming, I certainly can wash and dry this stuff. I am also of the abuse the linen opinion, this is a strong natural fabric. So I'll double wash and dry this before I do the outfit, linen does shrink a fair amount. I actually prefer the soft, worn feel that linen gets, it's so comfortable. I accept the fact that linen will always wrinkle-alot. This will be the skirt for my faire outfit, and maybe get some for the outfit layer of my new bodice. I can understand the stores doing the cya thing on fabrics, but it is frustrating when you not sure what the real fabric care is. Of course I would have probably just washed and dried the stuff anyway. But it is nice to have my opinion confirmed. Now if I was getting high end fabric to use for a tailored outfit that could change, but for this project I'm not worried. As I said in the original post, the faire outfit must be able to be washed and dried. Between normal stains from eating and sitting on grass to inevitable results of wearing an outfit when it's near 90 degrees it's not an option. And linen is one of the most comfortable fabrics out there when we end up going to the faire in August. I appreciate the help folks, it's nice to sure of how to take care of the fabric before I spend the money on it.
Mary

DonnaH
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DonnaH
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Date: 4/16/13 12:41 PM

For linen and rayon (which I used to wear more often), I like to use Dryel (or the equivalent - there are a few brands out now).

Most of it comes w/ a spot treater (or instructions on how to spot treat w/ the pads). And it sort of "steam cleans" in the dryer. As long as you remember to hang it up as soon as the dryer stops. LOL

Nancy K
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Nancy K
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In reply to ahrizel <<


Date: 4/16/13 4:03 PM

Marcy Tilton sells a lot of linen on her website and her instructions on laundering are very good. First, not all linens wash and dry the same. Some come out of the dryer with soft wrinkles others have more distinct wrinkles. She suggest washing two samples, one tossed into the dryer the other hung up. See which you like better. She washes her linen and doesn't spin dry, hanging it up wet, then smoothing it out as it hangs and doesn't iron. It depends on the linen.

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www.nancyksews.blogspot.com

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