Altar Linen: Where Linen Comes From

This weekend, as I was working on a project, the thought of linen fabric came to mind.  Years ago, when sewing fashion fabrics, the linen available was to be dreaded. A mere  look would seem to result in wrinkles. I use to cringe at the thought of anything connected with linen. But as the world of Ecclesiastical Sewing has opened over many years, those once dreaded thoughts have softened, just as fine linen does with time.   Some of my favorite styles of linen fabric come from  Access Commodities,  which only sells to retail outlets, such as Hedgehog Handworks. Most of the Access Commodities Linens are suitable for hand embroider using silk and gold threads. One or two of the linens might be appropriate for altar linens, but the cost on my favorite linen available through Access Commodities is priced out of my league when the purchase requires 3 to 5 yards for a set of altar linens.

I have most recently been working with Irish Linen from the UK which is very nice!  It comes in an assortment of weights from a light cambric, medium weight, and even a heavier weight suitable for hand embroidery.  The more one works with these lovely linens, the more one falls in love with them. The past fears of wrinkled and crumpled fabric seem to have vanished. But why the difference? What make the Irish, or European linens less prone to becoming an uncontrollable, crumpled mess?

A while back, I came across this website which gives some history relating to the cultivation of linen, from planting to finishing.

There is also a section on the history of linen,  which has been around for years. The climate in parts of Europe is ideally suited for the growth of linen. Thankfully, this wonderful fiber, which is so versatile, is available from many good manufacturers in both Ireland, and the United Kingdom, as well as from Europe, for use in the US. There are several Irish Linens that come is us via the UK that are very nice, and I think will become favorites for use in making church linens over time.

Linen is an amazing fiber, which results in a unique fabric, perfectly suitable for use in the making of altar linens and church linens.  With that inspiration, one can hardly wait to get work on a few altar linen projects!

Solo Dei Gloria

Be sure to visit our online store front Ecclesiastical Sewing where you may shop for Liturgical Fabrics, altar linen fabrics, church vestment making patterns, liturgical machine embroidery designschurch vestment trims and notions and so much more. You may also find us on  Ecclesiastical Sewing  on Facebook , Twitter, and Pinterest. Sing up for our mailing list  at the bottom of the page on our online store front and receive a free copy of our Small Linens Booklet as our way of saying thank you for following along.


Filed under: Altar Linens, Church Linens, Ecclesiastical Sewing Tagged: Altar Linens, Church Linens, Ecclesiastical Sewing
September 07, 2015 by Carrie R
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