Sunday, February 20, 2022

Weekend Review: Linen & Cotton


Linen & Cotton / Susan Khalje
Newtown CT: Taunton, c1999
139 p.

Another older sewing book that I checked out from my library system, this one was surprisingly still useful even after 20+ years! I love sewing with linen and cotton and I learned things from this book about their manufacture, finishing, and treatment that I hadn't actually known. 

There's a chart of weaves and finishes, which are illuminating -- of course they don't cover every single permutation, and since it's from 1999 there may be newer things missing. But one new thing to me: I had no idea what ottoman was and now I do.

There are also great tips for working with the characteristics of linens and cottons to get the best results from them. Many of them are things I routinely do, but somehow I never knew that bias should be pressed with the iron at 90° to the neckline (or wherever you've applied it) so that you don't stretch it out and undo all your hard work getting it sewn on cleanly. And there is a very complete rundown of topstitching techniques which I found very helpful - little tricks like which threads to use, tension issues, marking your lines and more.

After discussing the fabrics themselves, the chapters cover fabric prep, sewing techniques, garment innards like interfacing, underlining or shoulder pads, decorative details like pleats, pockets and topstitching among others, and finishes with finishing details - useful tips like inserting hanging loops, bra carriers or dress shields, which I haven't seen often in sewing books. 

There is also a 16 page 'design gallery' of garments which show off the techniques and fabrics mentioned. Although this is an older title, I really enjoyed the bright and clear examples from designer patterns (of course, this is Susan Khalje!). There were some details I really liked, and one dress that I'd wear right now if I owned it -- Vogue 1956, an Emmanuel Ungaro design. 

I found this to be a useful reference book with some great info in it. If I find a copy out there I'd pick it up to add to my collection. I enjoyed reading all the info, it felt like quick expert tips to get your summer dresses and suits polished up to the next level. 


  1. Wow, that was so strange....I was just looking at a sample of this book on Kindle. Turned it off, looked at my emails and your review came in. Spooky!!!

  2. I have had this book for a while. I agree it is an informative book that I've used and learned a lot from. Wonder if Susan would have any on her website.

    1. Probably -- I might pick one up at some point, I really enjoyed the robust info and the 90s photos :)


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!