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Everything You Need to Know About Cotton Lawn

Posted by Fabrics Galore on

cotton lawn fabric

Cotton fabrics have always been, and always will be, an excellent choice for dressmaking projects as they are a durable, natural fabric. They are widely available across the market and come in a variety of styles and textures, including plains and printed cotton fabric. Here at Fabrics Galore we stock a wide range of high quality, affordable cotton fabrics for our customers. With so many different designs to choose from, we have decided to highlight one of our personal favourite styles of natural cotton - cotton lawn fabric.

What is cotton lawn fabric? 

A plain weave textile made from cotton, cotton lawn fabric has become very popular in recent years. It is usually a very sheer and opaque cloth with a smooth look, perfect in the warmer months. It was first produced in the French city of Laon, which is where the term ‘lawn’ derives from, and it was manufactured there in great quantities. 

Introduced to the UK in the 16th century, lawn fabric was traditionally made of linen but by the 20th century was generally made of cotton. Liberty of London made their Tana Lawn fabrics famous in the 1920s using a fine, long staple cotton from Africa and naming it ‘Tana Lawn’ after Lake Tana in Ethiopia.

One of the beauties of lawn is its availability in gorgeous, vibrant prints which provides the dressmaker the opportunity to add more flare to their garments. You can not only have fun when working with cotton lawn, but also design unique, creative garments which you are guaranteed to fall in love with.  

Many people confuse cotton lawn with voile, despite being completely different fabrics. They do look similar, but the thread count is higher in lawn cloth with smaller yarns, and lawn fabric has a much crisper feel to it. And as with most fabrics that are lightweight, the paler colours such as white or pink, often have some element of transparency to them - so this is something to consider when making your colour choices.

Uses of cotton lawn fabric?

One of the great things about this material is the fact that you don’t need to be an expert to make a nice piece of clothing with it, as this lighter weight shirting can be used for button-down shirts, blouses, and all kinds of lined dresses and skirts. Of course, the ease of use depends very much on the pattern you have chosen as some patterns can be trickier, but in general, cotton lawn fabric is incredibly versatile and easy to work with. 

As we have already mentioned, cotton lawn fabric is a very lightweight and sheer fabric, so the result is a subtle drape that is a great match for warm weather garments and linings. From shirts and blouses, dresses, nightdresses, and even children’s wear, there are so many different uses for this fabric. As well as dressmaking, cotton lawn can even be used for furnishing projects such as sheer curtains as an alternative to lace curtains. 

Working with cotton lawn fabric

When working with cotton lawn you don’t need to feel intimidated as it is a sturdy, reliable fabric which is a great choice for any beginner sewer. 

As with most cotton fabrics, it is advisable to pre-wash them before cutting, as this prevents shrinkage after the design has been completed and ruining the sizing of your garment. 

It is recommended that they undergo a machine wash in cold water and tumble dried on the low setting.

If you find the lightness of the fabric tricky to handle, a great tip is to use spray starch to help crisp it up and make it easier to work with, whilst using a fresh rotary blade to avoid snags when cutting. Depending on how fine the cotton lawn fabric may be, you can also use finer pins to keep everything in place while you work.

As with any fabric, choose a needle size for your project based on the weight and type of thread the material has. In this case, when working with cotton lawn you should use the smaller universal needle, as it is a very lightweight fabric that is mid-range. 

Would you like assistance from Fabrics Galore? 

As a business, cotton lawn fabric is one of our favourite fabric choices, as we have a carefully curated range of beautiful Liberty London cotton lawns for you to purchase. This highly regarded brand, founded in 1875 by Arthur Liberty, is well known for their range of quintessentially British fabric designs, and the cotton lawns are no different. 

We have stocked Liberty London designs since our store first opened over 25 years ago and we have an excellent relationship with Liberty’s fabric supplier. If you are interested in learning more about our fabrics, please call us on 020 7738 9589, and we would be happy to assist.


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