|Linen loom - Getty Images|
There was a time in living memory when Northern Ireland was a place that made things - manufacturing, engineering and weaving. But, like so many places today, the factories and looms have closed down and are lying silent. One such example of this decline is just down the road from where I work - The Ulster Weaving Company was originally founded in 1880 and throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, they continued to spin, weave, bleach and finish high quality Irish linen. But alas no more. The company is still in operation but production has moved across the world to cheaper employee markets and the company specialises in small items such as linen and cotton tea towels, aprons and oven gloves. Lovely stuff but not the large king size bedsheets and bolts of fine shirt linen that I used to buy in their factory shop on the way home from work. You can see the products here and by royal appointment too no less.
When the company was still operating I bought all our linen bed sheets and pillow cases. I think they were woven and produced for a posh hotel chain and what was sold in the factory shop were either over-runs or slight seconds, though I've never found a fault. Even in the factory shop the sheets were not cheap, if memory serves me right. StephC wrote a great article earlier this week all about linen - its wonderful properties and heritage, ecology, care and sewing. I have to contradict her on one small point however, she said linen goes on and on and on and never wears out - without going into too much detail, 18 years of marital bliss have most definitely taken their toil on one of my linen sheets. A huge hole just about foot level appeared along with a distinct wearing thin of the fabric in the same general area. I'd thought of repairing the sheet but to remove the worn section and sew the two halves together would have resulted in a too short sheet and us lying on a seam - not comfortable. Much better that I take it into the sewing room and make some clothes!
The sheet has a beautiful edge to the top that I would like to incorporate into a garment somehow.
Sew Weekly was setting a full circle skirt challenge that I didn't participate in but it did set me thinking. Take a moment to go look at all those swirling skirts - fab! I don't think I'd suit a full circle - too much hanging around the hip area and somewhat limited in length too, but I do like a partial circle :)
I reached for TNT Paco's half circle skirt. Designed for knits and jersey like fabrics, I've had relative success with this pattern made up in cotton, so figured the linen would drape even better. Wrapped around Doris for a test run - you can see the folds from DH's perfect ironing. Why iron a sheet with a whacking great hole in it? Who knows? But I was grateful that he did and I was encouraged by the freshness and simplicity that this skirt was already promising me.
I cut the longer length of the skirt and I added a white cotton satin lining cut to the shorter length that is included in the pattern. The lining was attached as per Paco's instructions.
The picture of summertime - white linen and bright red and white stripes.
Blinded by the bright April sun, but the temperature was low - hence the boots and not open toed sandals; my white linen skirt was surprisingly insulating. I'd heard that linen (and silk) keep you cool when it's hot and keep you warm, when it's cold. I can testify to that statement.
Worn with StephC's kimono wrap top: this time made in the red & white stripe same as the Three Bears T. And just look at those chevrons down the back - impressed? More pics soon. I think I might be turning into StephC - stripes, linen and her wrap top pattern! Could do a lot worse mind you.
There's enough linen left for a pair of trousers, if I can manage to cut around the hole. Now all I need are tanned and shaved legs, open toe strappy sandals and about another 15 degrees C on the temperature and I'm nearly set for summer.
Finally, yes it does wrinkle.
Thanks for reading. Ruth