Above fabric is Flamingos Lawn by Rifle Paper Co.
My dear, dear friends and travel companions: today we embark upon the final leg of our Quilty Adventure. I must say, it’s been a trip. If you missed any of our amazing destinations...
...pull a U-turn and check ‘em out. If you’ve been trekkin’ with me the whole time, it’s time to hit one last destination before getting our photos developed and starting on our Quilty Adventure scrapbook. Ready for this? It’s time for Lawn.
Read More From Our Quilty Adventures!
WELCOME TO LAWN
The Classiest Place on Earth
Hold up. Do you even know what lawn is? Don’t worry. I’ll be the first to admit that this is one of our more exotic excursions. Lawn is the Cotton family’s quiet, fancy cousin in the corner. She’s gorgeous, though, and as soon as you get to know her, you’ll be friends for life.
How to Sew with Lawn: The History
Lawn is a plain weave made out of fine, high count yarns. You know what that means – a super-fine, silky feel, with a little bit of luster. Lawn is straight luxury, people. You’ll feel like a graceful ballerina just sewing with it. Lawn is light and crisp, and often has really brilliant prints. What’s not to love?
Lawn gets its name from “Laon,” a city in France (surprise, surprise… the French are fancy!). The city used to produce mass quantities of lawn fabric, which used to be made from linen. We’ve since moved toward the fine cotton lawn we use today. And speaking of uses, it’s a super popular fabric for undergarments. And quilting. You know, the two necessities in life.
Three words: Liberty. Of. London.
OK, now two words: (isn't this such a fun game??) Tana. Lawn.
Liberty of London fabric has a very faithful cult following (I'm a fringe believer). What keeps the group mysterious and seemingly out of reach to some is the tana lawn these timeless patterns are printed on. If tana* lawn is scary because of its unknown factors, let's demystify it. I don't want you feeling left out.
There are a few things you need to know about lawn. Let’s start with transparency. And I don’t just mean between you and me – there are no secrets between us! Lawn, as a fabric, is semi-transparent. Yes it’s cool, and soft, and comfortable, and not completely sheer, but just keep this little transparency thing in mind.
Even though lawn is delightfully light, it still keeps it’s shape quite well, and… it’s wrinkle resistant! Yesss! And just in case you weren’t already in love, lawn doesn’t shrink all that much. We’re still going to prewash, since it’s my favorite past time ever, but don’t get stressed.
It’s going to be a smooth and silky ride, everybody! Let’s pack our bags, and get moving.
*What is "tana," you ask? Tana Lawn is specific to Liberty of London not because it is a different kind of lawn but because of where the cotton was originally grown. In 1875 the founder, Arthur Liberty, tried to find ultrafine long-staple cotton fiber that could be spun much finer than normal cotton. He found such raw cotton growing around Lake Tana in East Africa – hence the name.
How to Sew with Lawn: What to Pack
For our ride through lawn, get out your classiest bag – we’re going to fill it with the most delicate of gear for our fancy French friend.
- Needles: Tiny. We’re talking about the smallest needle you can see. Look for 60/8 Universal or Microtex. Like I’ve already said, lawn is super-fine, so we’re going to treat it with some respect. Here is your needle exception – if you are joining lawn to a heavier fabric, say quilt-weight cotton broadcloth, a 70/10 Universal needle will work.
- Pins: Silk pins are ideal for this smooth, silky fabric.
- Thread: Fine. Yes, I know I keep using that word, but this is important! Fine 50 wt. cotton thread is a great choice.
- Cutting Tool: Fresh. A fresh rotary blade is best, to make sure you don’t snag this beautiful fabric.
You won’t regret pulling out all the stops for this trip through lawn. The result is going to be stunning!
And now, we set off on our final ride on our Quilty Adventure. A little bittersweet, isn’t it? Well, let’s make it our best yet. Lawn’s a great place to end on a high note.
- Prewash. We’re going to start off with that prewash, but this time, we’re going to get our hands dirty… er… clean. Lawn is delicate enough that we’re going to take matters into our own hands and wash with cool water, and either a gentle fine fabric detergent or even a little bit of baby shampoo (don’t worry, lawn, it’s tear free!) Dry flat, s'il vous plaît (that’s if you please, in French. Classin’ it up over here.)
- Starch is great for lawn, especially when you want to line everything up precisely. Get down with your favorite starch before things get going. (Check out this blog post to read more about starch!)
- Seams. Lawn really doesn't fray too much, but pinking shears are still a good idea, if you’re game for it. If you do choose to combine a lighter-colored lawn with other quilting cottons, press your seams toward the quilting cotton, to make sure they don’t show through the lightweight lawn. Your lawn will thank you – it hates it when seams show through. How embarrassing!
Lawn Diamonds, Sarah Schraw
Jaw drop. Like wooooooah. This one makes my brain ache in a weirdly enjoyable way. Why does the pain hurt so good?? OK, I'm going to get serious for a second and let you in on some important info:
- Sarah is currently selling the pattern for this quilt and you can find it in her Etsy shop.
- Anyone else watching The Bachelor?? Isn't Nick THE WORST??? Also, Vanessa is my pick in my family's bachelor draft. Christen (above) is also on my team, but she gets no air time! That's why I had to use this gif of her cause she's secretly awesome. I can tell.
Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 42, Snips Snippets
I'm super embarrassed that I can't find the name of this quilt. Typically I would just move on and display a different quilt, but I couldn't bring myself to do it! This one is goooorgeous!
If you know this lovely quilt's name, please oh please tell me in the comments so I can make the correction. The few things I do know, aside from the obvious oh-my-gosh-this-is-stunning fact, is that this quilt is made using Cotton + Steel lawn.
Also you can find the pattern in Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine. You can't miss it cause it's on the cover!
Prism Quilt in Liberty of London, Purl Soho
I have so much love in my heart for half square triangles. This quilt goes beyond the regular HST and brings us 2/3 triangles and 1/4 triangles (those aren't official names. Don't quote me...usually ever.) Also, FREEEEEE tutorial! Probably should have led with that exciting news...
Before You Check Out
One parting tip before we head out: If you have extra lawn to store, it’s best kept folded, not hung. And finished products are best SHARED WITH ME IN THE COMMENTS, not kept secret in your house! Haha, but for real I would love to see your fancy lawn creations!
Well, everyone this Quilty Adventure has been an absolute pleasure! I know I’ve learned a lot about the nooks and crannies of the fabric world, and I’m so glad I had you along for the ride. Even though our adventure is done, I still have some great things in store for us! Keep checking in. I get lonely when you’re gone! xo
35 thoughts on “A Quilty Adventure Part VII: How to Sew with Lawn”
I love this post about lawn, thank you! I’ve worked with it a little and have started collecting/hoarding some Liberty, but so far it’s basically been too pretty to cut into it. I’ve done a wholecloth baby quilt in Moda’s Regent Street lawn with C+S’s double gauze backing. Added some handquilting and it was the lightest, softest quilt ever. And I’ve also backed a quilt with C+S’s Rifle Paper Co. city toile lawn print–total luxury! That quilt was given as a gift and it was really hard to see that one go. Here’s the IG pic: https://www.instagram.com/p/BJROU2WgM5Y/?taken-by=stitchandbundle
I love adding in unconventional fabrics with regular quilting cottons, and I’m so happy you did this post series! Super great info AND tons of inspiration!
Was it scary to do the backing of a quilt with lawn? I want to use Meadow Field by Rifle Paper Co. for a 60 by 60 backing with the front all Kona but I’m nervous the batting will show through or it will rip? Am I being paranoid?
You’re being paranoid. lol.
Well this was awesome! ???????????????????????? Just getting into loverly lawns with the LOL (Liberty of London!) club at westwoodacres! The cuts are small and I typically don’t prewash anything but flannel and I starch til it stands on its own, so….why do you recommend prewashing lawn? Thanks for the great post!
Prewashing can be on an as-needed basis. I always prewash linen, denim (with a color catcher) and flannel and I sometimes prewash everything else. If you don’t prewash your fabrics, your quilts will end up looking more crinkled and antiqued after being washed (which you probably already know from experience). I definitely prewash fabric used for baby quilts to get rid of any factory chemicals used during manufacturing, but outside of that, it’s really just if I remember to do it. Oh, and I never prewash small cuts of fabric like fat quarters. You can end up losing major inches due to fray and shrinkage and that might throw off a pattern.
Hi. Understanding that washing lawn fat quarters is a no-no, I have bought lawn fabric for the backing. What will happen if I do wash the backing but not the fat quarters once sewn together and wash later on? Will it crinkled weirdly? I don’t mind the crinkled look. Just curious about how the fabric will react.
It will crinkle at slightly different rates, but I don’t think in a weird way. The front will look slightly more dimpled than the back.
I do like the crinkled look …plus it helps hide any quilting booboo’s! ???? The liberty I have are fat sixteenths so I’m not sure about prewashing…I could put them in a lingerie bag to reduce fraying. Should I do it that? I don’t want to ruin whatever I make with it..it’s spendy! Also, loved the article on linen….didn’t know about the need to prewash it. I have a fair stash of Essex linen so I will be washing it up! Thanks Suzy!
Hi Donna, I have the very same question about pre-washing, in my case, fat-eights and charms. I wonder if soaking them in starch (I make it myself) would both get them stiff and semi-prewashed? I sure would appreciate an expert’s take…hint hint:).
20 years ago at the International Quilt Festival there was a woman who sold Vintage Textiles, Buttons, Quilts, etc. plus she had a friend in the U.K. that she would visit and then bring back odd scrap amounts of Liberty of London Tana lawn leftovers straight from the factory and sell dirt cheap (relatively speaking). They were not so known/desirable in the quilting world so a friend and I would always check in on her booth first and gather any bundles that she had brought back. They were never a huge amount as she brought them back in her suit case and we took them home in ours but after a few years we both acquired a decent amount for several quilts. What fun to be on an inside track so early! I still have quite a bit left and yardage left from earlier trips to Harrods of London.
Time for another quilt or two!
That’s amazing! Also I’m pretty jealous… 😉
I have 2 quilts made from Liberty fabrics. Love the fabrics, but they are so expensive. I am currently doing a Jen Kingwell BOM and many of the fabrics are Liberty. When I was at Liberty the last time I bought a fabric strip pack. I couldn’t cut the fabrics, so just squared up the pieces and sewed in strips. So soft to touch.
Your How-To Series has been great and I will miss them! Thank you so much!!! I have wanted to work with lawn, but just haven’t had the courage yet. What batting do you recommend? I was thinking wool; maybe silk, but it would have to be a very small quilt!
I’m so glad you have enjoyed this series! Most battings will work great – just be sure it doesn’t have natural fibers speckled in it. I used 100% cotton Warm & Natural batting with a light colored poplin quilt and aaaall of the dark cotton fibers showed through. It was pretty disappointing. Quilter’s Dream and Pellon are both great brands that don’t have dark speckles in the 100% cotton batting.
Just wondering if you had tried wool batting with lawn. Wasn’t sure about bearding- if this would be more or less likely with the fine weave of the lawn. TIA!
That is a great question, and actually, I have never experienced bearding with any of my quilts. However (and that’s a big however) I have never personally used wool batting – which is maybe why bearding has not occurred. Because lawn is woven so tightly, I would think this would diminish the chances of bearding. I found this article with a few tips on bearding preventative measures you can take.
Good luck and let me know what you find out! xo
I love this series, as a sewist – as a blogger I would love to pin all of these and hopefully send you some traffic but the images are all horizontal – do you care if I make a quick collage to make a vertical of 2 images?
Your blog just saved my quilty life again, Suzy! Your boo, 💓
Hi. Can you tell me if other brands of lawn are similar to Liberty of London? It just isn’t in my budget. Thanks.
They are! And I agree, Liberty is pretty, but oh so expensive.
Hi Suzy! Loved this post. I am in the uk and I’ve got quite a few bits of Liberty lawn/scraps/remnants and a bit of yardage too, but I want to make them into a quilt top with solid contrast/background fabric. Do I have to use solid lawn with the patterns, or would a cotton fabric do? Or would it be horrible/weird to mix lawn with a different weight, say for half square triangles? What would you recommend? So many questions, thank you for sharing your quilty wisdom 🤓
You can definitely mix! Quilting cotton does feel differently, so you won’t get that overall “sameness” you would get if using all lawn, but that’s fine in terms of the integrity of your quilt.
This is such a great series, thank you!
Can I line a wool jacket with cotton lawn or will that be too challenging given you recommend different size needles for the two different fabrics?
You definitely can! In fact many garment sewers line wool coats with silk.
Five years later! That gorgeous navy, white, turquoise, red and pale yellow quilt picture in this post is named SPACE BLOSSOM by Nicole Calver.
Ha!! That’s awesome that you (a) found this out, and (b) reported it back here for Suzy!! 👍 👏 👏 😆
So reading your comments I infer that you recommend tana lawn to back a tana lawn quilt? As it is transparent will a patterned backing show through to the front? Also white or cream batting? I plan to use cotton. And what about quilting? I was thinking to do a big stitch quilting using a perle cotton.
The batting will prevent any the backing or quilt top to show through to the other side. Cotton batting would work great! Thick thread, like 8 wt. perle cotton might be tough to get through the tight weave of lawn. Before committing to doing that on the entire quilt, test it out on a little quilt sandwich.
Ooh, good to know about the perle #8! So this might be time for a nice 12 wt, then?
I’ve bought a couple of metres of lawn in line green, the Empress Mills one (I’m in the UK) rather than Liberty. It’s for backing a quilt, and I’m fretting over whether I like the feel. I didn’t really take in what “crisp” would mean. Will it soften up? It hasn’t even had a prewash yet. I bought it as it sounded a nice option for making a light quilt, for a friend who runs warm.
Oh yes, the lawn will definitely soften up once it’s washed. It still has sizing and chemicals on it from the manufacturing process. I wouldn’t go any thicker than 12 wt. thread. If you have a hard time pulling 12 wt. through, try a thinner thread.
I’m a collector/hoarder of Tana Lawn as well and am working on a all Tana Lawn quilt now (first quilt in decades). Question: The Liberty prints are so great, I’d like to back this quilt with something like a small ticking stripe. Any ideas who makes a ticking stripe fabric in something that will play well with the Tana Lawn? Or am I delusional? Thank you!
Hmmm I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Art Gallery Fabric cottons work great with Tana Lawn because they are a very high thread count. Any print from them would work great 🙂
How do you baste your quilt sandwich when using (tana) lawn fabrics? I’m concerned that safety pins might be too thick, leaving holes in the fabrics, but also that spray basting may seep through due to the thinness of the lawn. I plan to hand quilt this one. Thanks.
Spray basting would be totally fine because the adhesive washes out completely. Pin basting should also work because the pins push their way through the weave of the fabric and shouldn’t rip the weave. Once you wash the quilt the fabric weave will go back in place so you don’t see any pin marks.