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Tips and Tricks for working with Liberty Lawns

All quilt and fabric images courtesy of Westwood Acres

 

Liberty Lawns are some of the most luxurious fabrics in the land – especially their famous Tana Lawns.  If you’ve ever felt them, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you must try sometime when you get a chance and you’ll see what I mean. Lawn fabric is a lighter-weight fabric originally made of linen, but now primarily made from cotton using fine, high count yarns, which results in a smooth, silky feel. Other fabric companies are producing more prints on lawn-substrates in recent year. 

So what makes Liberty of London Tana Lawns so special? Liberty is a historic and posh department store in London that has been producing their own in-house fabrics for over 135 years. Inspired originally by the colorful silks and prints imported from the far East, Liberty teamed up with nineteenth century designers like William Morris to create in-house collections to sell in their iconic tudor-style departments store.

And they are still producing fabrics today! The most prevalent Liberty designs are delicate florals in a variety of styles and colors. The reason they’re so iconic is they’re classic – they never go out of style. Liberty Tana Lawns are made from ultra-soft cotton, creating fabric that is almost silk-like. The cotton is ultra light-weight, making it lovely for garment sewing, as well as quilting, with super-soft effect.

The quilts and projects in this post are all made by Amanda of  a Crafty Fox, quilter and owner of Westwood Acres. Isn’t that quilt a beauty? I’m I’m sure it feels even dreamier.

Because lawn is a more delicate fabric, there are some techniques that will help you when working with these beautiful fabrics. Here are 5 Tips for Sewing with Liberty Lawn from Westwood Acres:

  1. Use a 70/10 or 80/12 universal needle, but nothing larger. The fabric is strong, but lightweight, making it more delicate.
  2. Press without steam. The fabric is very thin and steam tends to distort the threads and even entire seams. It’s easier to get a straight seam without steam and then use starch at the very end when the block is finshed.
  3. Use a natural fiber batting for quilts. (Preferably wool.) The texture of the finished quilt will be similar to the fabric; soft and with more drape.
  4. When cutting Liberty you can carefully cut up to 12 layers at a time with a rotary cutter.
  5. Take advantage of how fluid Liberty is to work with! These pieces do very well for inset (Y) type seams. Remember, it is fabric and not breakable. Use the elasticity to turn it into shapes you’ve always dreamed of!

When adding a solid to your project, Amanda recommends Art Gallery’s solid white or double gauze or white linens. When working with the white linen, use a 3/8 seam allowance and make sure to prewash the linen.

So helpful. Thanks Amanda!

I also personally like pairing Liberty lawns with the Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids. They are also a lighter-weight solid and have a similar silky-sheen like the Art Gallery solids. And, as Amanda said, lawns are beautiful to work with sewing difficult shapes, like curves. I’ve been using lawns in my Steam Punk quilt and they work so beautifully. They’re dreamy for hand work projects like paper piecing and applique because they’re pliable and feel luxurious in your hands. They can be a little more slippery piecing with a sewing machine, so use extra pins if needed. The finished result is so worth it!

One of my favorite things about Liberty Lawns is how their prints and colors play so beautifully together for a timeless look. They’re so perfect in patchwork projects. Because of their luxurious feel, laws can be a little pricer to buy by the yard, but a little bit goes a long way.  (And you don’t have to go all they way to London to buy them.) I gradually built up my Liberty collection with the Westwood Acres Liberty Club.  This is a monthly subscription where you can get a little bundle of 10 different Liberty prints in the mail every month.

There are size options – from Fat 16th, Fat 1/8th, and Fat Quarter bundles available. I collected Fat 1/8th bundles for a year and have loved the variety of colors and prints that I collected over that time. And it’s a good time to subscribe because shipping is free for Fat 1/8 and FQ subscriptions! There is no minimum commitment, so you can cancel when you’ve received enough prints for your stash. You can read all about the Liberty Club details here.

Open since 2011, sponsor Westwood Acres specializes in stocking all kinds of beautiful fabric collection bundles in addition to Liberty. You can see more of their bundles here, including great sales here.

 

Amanda and Westwood Acres would also like to share a new free pattern, Shiney Bright, with any of you readers who are interested in signing up for their newsletter here. (If you are already receive the Westwood Acres newsletter requesting this pattern will NOT add you a second time. So you can just enjoy the free pattern!)

Thanks so much Amanda and Westwood Acres for the great tips and beautiful Liberty lawns eye candy!

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Robby
    March 25, 2017 at 7:48 am

    I have been so trying to avoid this rabbit hole. You may have just tempted me in! Those fabrics practically scream “Spring!” Thanks for the tips, too.

  • Reply
    Jenny S.
    March 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    What do you mean by “and then use starch at the very end of the block”? Thank you.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      March 27, 2017 at 10:35 am

      I think it means, once the block is pieced, add a little starch for stability.

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    March 25, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Such a coincidence — I was at The Fabric Shack today picking background fabric to go with my collection of pretty Liberty florals! I found the perfect match — Corey Yoder’s new line Lulu Lane has a great woven-look print, and the wideback version feels just like lawn. (I didn’t check out the 44″ yardage to compare the weight.) Check it out!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      March 27, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Oh that’s awesome! Yes – definitely the lawn-weight fabrics work so nice with the Liberty’s. I’ll have to check that out!

      • Reply
        Karen Seitz
        March 27, 2017 at 11:25 am

        After I posted here I came across Carrie Nelson’s blog post about the then-upcoming Block Head BOW. She is using a wide back for her background and mentioned that they are 220 threads/inch and feel like lawn, so I was on to something. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lizzie in Sweden
    March 26, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Great tips, thanks! The perfect pairings are super useful 🙂

  • Reply
    Vicki
    March 26, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Oh, I’ve been wanting to try the Liberty florals for ages, but I just can’t justify the price! Even in the subscription, the fat eighths come out to a whopping $40 a yard! Yikes!

  • Reply
    Lesley Gilbert
    March 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I live in England and visited Liberties last December – It’s wonderful to walk around each floor and look at all the items, especially the fabrics ….. so many fabrics 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      March 27, 2017 at 10:33 am

      That whole place is just full of gorgeous inspiration, isn’t it?

  • Reply
    Mary Ann
    March 27, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I built my Liberty stash with Westwood Acres too! I have actually started to use a few pieces here and there…lol.

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