Selling Handwoven Linen (1)

Initially, Schwalm whitework was only done on hand-woven linen because that was the fabric that was produced in the region. The hand-spun threads used for this are often more uneven in thickness and twist than machine-spun threads. This makes the fabric made from it appear more structured and interesting.

Such linen has the advantage that it does not wrinkle as easily as machine-woven linen. It is usually very tightly woven and therefore heavier. Projects made from it are easy to iron, and blankets and runners sit well on tables.

But as with all handmade products, there are big differences. There are also many hand-woven linens that are not suitable for embroidery. The threads are too uneven in warp and weft, which does not allow for a pleasing pattern. Or they are only very slightly spun so that the threads fall apart when pulled out. Or they have thickenings that are too thick, making it almost impossible to pull out the thread. Some of the fabrics, which are now more than a hundred years old, have been stored incorrectly, causing the fabric to fall apart. The linen rolls have often become stained over the years. Not all stains can be washed out.

Most linen was woven with a width between 60cm and 75cm. Wider linen is difficult to find and is therefore much more expensive. Often the first and last meter of the role is warped due to the tautening,

so that these sections can no longer be used for embroidery.

(I found an interesting article with informative images about the production of hand-woven linen, but unfortunately only with German text.)

I bought a role of linen with a width of 92 cm and have already done some embroidery on it, like this large wall hanging.

In my next blog post I will show a pillowcase made from this linen.

You have to get used to embroidering on hand-woven linen. You usually find it more difficult at first. I’ve also had linen that almost required pliers to get the needle through the fabric. It’s too tiring and not fun.

The linen presented here can be embroidered quite well. The threads are easy to withdraw and the embroidered patterns have an impressive effect.

The number of threads varies 13/16

or in other areas also 15/17, as you can easily count in the 1cm² magnifications.

The fabric has irregularities

and light stains, which disappeared without difficulty when washed.

Even the dirt in the fold from lying for so long was gone after washing.

In Germany and the surrounding countries, everyone can go looking for hand-woven linen themselves. In many other countries or parts of the world this is not possible. So I received inquiries as to whether I could offer old, hand-woven linen. I hesitated about it for a long time. But now I have decided to test old, hand-woven linen by embroidering it and then offer it for sale.

This particularly wide linen is ideal for sofa cushion covers in sizes from 40cm X 40cm to 45cm X 45cm, as the linen only shrinks minimally.

Good linen has its price, the meter costs €41.65 (including 19% VAT) This is €35 for people out of the EU. In return you get a material that will probably no longer be available very soon and you don’t even need half a meter for a pillowcase.

White Striped Linen

When looking through my linen stock, I came across a small supply of white striped linen from the Weddigen company. It concerns the following article:

#926 W, width 185 cm, 16 tpcm, 100% linen, 4 pattern repeats/m – after laundry

According to the manufacturer, the linen has a shrinkage of approx. 8% to 10% in length and 3% in width. The stripes were created by weaving in thicker threads, as the high magnification shows.

The stripe looks like this:

Unwashed, a stripe is 10 cm wide. The stripes are spaced 18 cm apart on the fabric.

I pulled a thread out of the fabric.

The thread could be easily withdrawn over a long distance. Only a few pieces of fluff remained in the thread line.

A few rows of Four-Sided stitches were quickly embroidered

to try Peahole-

and needle-weaving hem.

Both harmonize very well with the stripes.

I am selling this linen for €10.08 + 19% VAT = €12.00 per stripe (=28 cm x 185 cm)
or in cuts of 56 cm (2 stripes) x 90 cm at a price of €10.92 + 19% VAT = €13.00.

Please email me with your request.

In my next blog post I will show an example of how I processed this linen.

Natural Coloured Linen of the Übelhör Linen Mill

Unfortunately the Weddigen company no longer weaves natural coloured linen. For some special projects I looked for another source.

The Übelhör linen mill from Austria weaves a natural coloured linen. It is pure linen, but durable pressed (i.e., processed to resist wrinkles).This linen comes in two different thread counts – 14/cm and 16/cm. It is nearly evenweave.

The linen is not as heavy as the linen I commonly use. The fabric has a pleasant, soft feel. Meanwhile I embroidered a couple of projects using the 16/cm thread count linen. Embroidering it is nice. Thread withdrawing is easy, but one has to be careful that not further thread slips out then the wanted thread part or the weave of the remaining fabric gets damages.

The advantage of this linen is its durable pressing. This makes it unsusceptible to creases. It should not get a laundry of more than 60° C. However, after the first wash I got a slight shock: Although only washed lukewarm by hand, gently squeezed out and immediately spread out to dry flat, many wrinkles appeared. Sprayed with a little “ironing aid”, the linen became perfectly smooth during ironing.

In the near future I will show details of one of my projects worked on this linen.

Design Transfer – Test 3

In the near future, I want to address the different ways in which embroidered pillowcases are made.

Old hand-woven linen is best for embroidering pillowcases because it is not susceptible to creasing. Now I have been looking for an alternative for the embroiderers in countries where one cannot fall back on “household linen”. At the weaving mill Übelhör I found what I was looking for with durable pressed natural coloured linen.

My preferred method of transferring patterns onto the linen is ironing them on with a DEKA iron-on transfer pen. However, it requires heat. The durable pressed linen, however, cannot withstand great heat. So I looked for other transfer solutions.

During my exhibition in September there was enough opportunity to exchange ideas about the different transfer methods used by the embroiderers. I’ll test some of them over time. Here is my experiment with a non-permanent pen from Staedtler. In contrast to the FriXion rollerball pen from Pilot, the colour can be completely washed out and does not reappear later.

Caution! I have just received a call from an embroiderer who has worked with the pen several times. She reports that the composition of the ink has been changed and the colour of the newer pens can no longer be washed out. So please check on a small test piece before embroidering whether the colour of your pen can be washed out or not.

With the help of a light pad, the pattern was transferred to the linen. The natural tone of the linen is swallowing light much more than white linen, and will not allow the design lines to show through without bright lightning.

The constant up and down of the pen point crossing the threads made my lines a little bit wobbly. This I found it disturbing.

The lines turned out fine and clear, the colour is strong and lasts until the end. The pen is available in many other colours – I just happened to have a green one on hand – and also in different widths. “F” should be the most suitable for the design transfer.

After embroidering, I put the motif in lukewarm water, and the colour immediately dissolved.

After a short time, the soap suds was coloured green.

Only a very short rubbing was necessary to wash the last remains of the ink from the linen.

The result was a clean fabric from which the outlines could be completely washed out in a very short time. If the wobbles weren’t created while tracing, this would be a perfect way to transfer designs.

Testing an Ink Transfer Pen

Back in December, an embroiderer told me about a pen that she and her group members use for transferring designs. She highly recommended that I use it, too.
It is a rollerball pen with ink that disappears with the application of heat up to 65°C.

I decided to give it a try.

The pen is called FriXion Ball made by the Pilot Pen Company. It comes in different colours and different width. The middle width – 0.7 mm – is available in many local stores offering stationery, so I bought one of these and also some refill cartridges in blue.

For my test I used a small design and Weddigen linen #180.

I used a light pad to be able to see the design more easily through the fabric.

Slowly and carefully I drew lines along the design lines. For me – accustomed to using iron transfer pencils – it was a little slow and a bit arduous. The constant up and down of the pen point crossing the threads made my lines a little bit wobbly. (Perhaps more practice would help to improve this.)

However, the lines turned out fine and clear.

Embroidering along the lines was no problem.

Because it is said that higher temperatures will erase the design lines, I applied heat with the help of a hair dryer. After some seconds my piece was free of pen lines.

And after it was boiled for shrinking, dried, and ironed, I was very satisfied.

Normally the pencil is used for writing. And it may happen that sunshine will delete the written text by accident. The product specifications state that deleted lines will appear again in cooler temperatures: a short time in a freezer (-10°C) will help to restore the lines.

This is good to know in case the piece is taken outside on a warm and sunny day and the design lines disappear.

A finished piece of embroidery is seldom exposed to freezing temperatures. However, I did place my finished test piece into my freezer.

After a short time, blue lines appeared again.

This shows that the ink, although invisible, is still remaining on the linen.
I began to wonder about the damage the ink might cause linen and whether the lines would, in time, reappear in a different color (such as yellow or tan).

The lady who suggested the pen to me reported that her group has used it for more than two years and with no adverse effects. She also told me that the pens with a wider point ease transferring.

After careful consideration, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this pen for transferring designs for white embroidery.

Followed up on June 06, 2023: In the meantime, I have observed the reaction of the pens on the linen for several years and have not been able to detect any discoloration. Even some of my blog readers who use the pen frequently have not noticed any negative effects. Therefore, I can now recommend the pen for pattern transfer or for tracing faded iron-on transferrend lines with a clear conscience.