Home Decorating: Why Linen & Linen-Cotton Blends Are the Best Soft Furnishings Choice
Linen and linen-cotton blends have made a big comeback as the hot soft furnishings choice for fabric aficionados. Here’s why they’re decking out their homes in everything from cushions to bedding, curtains to lampshades and even tablecloths…
Just like fashion, soft-furnishing fabrics come in and out of favour, but linens and linen-cotton blends have reclaimed the crown – those synthetic friends don’t stand a chance! So what’s behind the comeback? Chrissie Jeffery is the Creative Director for No Chintz Textiles & Soft Furnishings, and she says the secret therein lies in linen’s natural properties. “Linen is a wonderful natural fibre,” explains Chrissie. “When worn or used as bedding, if you sweat, it never makes you feel hot or prickly. It absorbs the moisture and feels beautiful against the skin, and the floppiness and flow of linen allows air to move through it. It’s become incredibly fashionable in the past 15 years.” Here’s what else you need to know…
Using Linen & Cotton-Linen Blends for Soft Furnishings
Chrissie says linen’s use for soft furnishings are endless. “From furniture upholstery to curtains, cushions and bedding and tablecloths, which require extra-wide linen. We stock a great range of extra-wide printed linens too. The new Australiana Collection we have in stock in-store is fabulous for a multitude of uses. Printed linens are also extremely fashionable – everything from block printed through to patterns.”
New Range Linen: No Chintz Australiana Collection Make your windows and walls pop with a printed linen waratah curtain. The Australiana Collection has a range of prints from gumnuts to waratahs, flannel flowers and iron bark.
SHOP THE LOOK Waratah print curtain, $110 per meter; Banner made from Esperance Stripe in Autumn, $65 per meter, featuring Pom Pom fringe, from $18.50 per meter. Cushions from left to right all made-to-order using No Chintz fabrics: Pink in Zanzibar in Musk, $56 per meter; Walled Boxed Cushion in Brighton Stripe, $58, front; Spice Stripe in Pickle, $69 per meter; Australiana Collection Iron Bark in Aqua and White with orange piping, POA. Chair available from a selection of furniture available at No Chintz; Walled Boxed Cushion on chair made using Ruff in Tourmaline, Cumquat and Splice, $59 per meter.
Weigh it Up: The Best Linens for Your Soft Furnishings
While we love a print, we also know that you can just choose a fabric because you like the look of it – the material needs to be suitable for the intended use. “We have an extensive range of different weights,” says Chrissie. “From super heavy 550gram weight that can be used for upholstery and curtains, to mid weights for soft furnishings (cushions) and super fine sheer curtaining and lampshade linen, that only weighs 110 gram. Speak to the No Chintz team, who are experts in fabrics, for great advice on weights and uses. Heavy linen can’t be used for Roman blinds because it sags, and linen absorbs moisture, so it can shrink. Be generous and make curtains a tad longer, touching the ground. If you’re a linen lover you won’t mind extra linen in your life!”
Lovely Linen Table Settings Linens and linen-cotton blends work a treat for tablecloths, napery, dining chairs, you name it! Take advantage of the No Chintz Tablecloth Offer, which allows you to choose from over 130 Fabrics ‘off the roll’ and have your tablecloth hemmed for free. Offer Available from September 1 to December 7, 2014.
SHOP THE LOOK Linen tablecloth, made-to-order; Napery, available from a range; Lamp, featuring No Chintz Special Edition Bird Fabric, made-to-order, and base, available from a selection. Vessels and vases, from $49; Tassels, from $4.50, and check napkins, all available from a range at No Chintz.
Did You Know…? “Making linen is a time consuming production process,” explains Chrissie. “That’s because linen is made from flax – a big leaf that needs to be rotted until the fibres come away. It’s then boiled and bleached, turned into a fibre and spun into a yarn.”
Cotton-Linen Blends: What’s the Difference?
“Cotton-linen blends are very strong and perfect for upholstery,” Chrissie advises. “A cotton-linen blend prevents the fabric from creasing so much and going floppy. Also, cotton can be bleached really white whereas it’s very difficult to get linen white. When cotton and linen are mixed together they can get a nice two tone white and off-white. It’s also much more affordable as a blend because linen is so expensive due to the time-consuming production process and the fact that there is a short supply of linen available. The bonus with cotton is that it can be woven really finely and then it’s thin, beautifully smooth and crisp. Linen, on the other hand, doesn’t have that same smoothness – it feels crisp, but it’s a different crispness to how cotton feels.”
The No Chintz Australiana Collection The Australiana Collection is made with cotton and linen fabrics featuring a range of Australiana prints mixed with a summery palette of soft corals, cool aqua, sunshine yellow, pastel pinks mixed with whites and naturel linen.
SHOP THE LOOK Curtain is made-to-order using Australiana Collection, Iron Bark in Coral, POA. Lampshade in Australiana Collection, Gumnut, $110 per meter; curtain made-to-order using Australiana Collection, Iron Bark in Coral, POA. Cushions from left to right all made-to-order: Twill stripe in Yellow, $87 per meter, (bottom); Fine Twill Stripe in Yellow, $87 per meter; Gumnut, $110 per meter; Zanzibar in Musk, $56 per meter; Zanzibar in Sea, $56 per meter; Cabana Stripe, $61 per meter. Console, available from a selection of furniture. Chair upholstered (No Chintz offers a furniture upholstery service) in Zanzibar in Citrus, seat cushion made-to-order using Cabana Stripe in Berry, $61 per meter.
The History of Linen: 6 Fun Facts
Weave some of these fun linen facts into the convo’ at your next sewing workshop and sound like a fabric aficionado!
- It’s as old as the hills. Actually, it’s even older. “Linen actually pre-dates cloth and dates back to Mesopotamia,” explains Chrissie. “The oldest linen found was in a prehistoric cave in Georgia, 8000 BC, and it was being traded back then.”
- Mummies decked themselves in it. “It was used as a currency in Ancient Egypt, and all the mummies are wrapped in linen, which was a sign of wealth and prosperity.”
- Linen was a fast ticket to Australia. “Some of the first convicts sent to Australia landed here for stealing linen handkerchiefs!”
- People didn’t’ leave home without it. “Up until the 18th century, linen and wool were the two main fabrics,” explains Chrissie. “People would often grow the flax and weave linen themselves, particularly in the northern countries.”
- It put the wind up their sails. “You need cold, moist temperatures for linen,” Chrissie explains. “In our part of the world, linen was found in New Zealand. All the sails on sailing ships were made of linen, so the ships would sail to New Zealand and choose the flax and then take it away for processing.”
- Linen was King over cotton. “Linen is much tougher than cotton, which is why it was the choice for ships sails,” says Chrissie. “But also, originally cotton came from a small part of India so it was not as widely available. In fact, India owned cotton up until the 18th century.”
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