What Do You Do With…Cotton Lawn?

In the world of cotton fabrics, there’s several different substrates (fiber compositions and weaving structures) to choose from, with a mid-weight woven as the most common for prints. While this substrate is good for making quilts, it can be fun to switch things up with something different– like cotton lawn!

Let’s talk about what makes lawn special, what projects work best with lawn, and then learn some tips about how to make sewing with lawn a breeze.

What is lawn?

Lawn is very similar to standard quilting fabric, as it is a plain weave with (usually) 100% cotton fiber. The difference is lawn is made from thinner, finer, stronger and silkier long-staple cotton fibers, allowing it to feel crisp and smooth yet flowy and soft. That said, don’t let the lightness fool you; the tighter weave of lawn and long staple fiber make it durable and strong.

Arguably the most famous lawn is Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn, which has been in production since the 1800s and is very high quality, being made of premium cotton and woven in Europe. Other lawns we like include Cotton+Steel’s (they also make a lawn/rayon blend we really like– read more about that here) and Lecien’s Memoire a Paris.

What can you make from lawn?

Photo by @cottonandsteel on Instagram

Because lawn is a woven cotton, it’s perfect for quilts, adding a cool, silky feel that’s lovely in warmer months because of the thinner material. Quilting stitches will pop in high relief and crinkle slightly in the wash, especially with high loft batting such as wool or acrylic, creating a soft and puffy texture.

Lawn is excellent for pillowcases as well (it feels so nice against your face!) and makes airy curtains with pretty light diffusion, looking almost sheer in the sunshine.

If you like making apparel, lawn makes wonderful garments that can hold their shape but still flow against the body. Button up shirts such as the Grainline Studios Archer, comfy lounge wear like Tilly and the Buttons’ Fifi Pyjamas, and semi-fitted dresses like Made by Rae’s Washi Dress are all good examples of garments that work perfectly with lawn.

Tips for sewing with lawn

Use a new, sharp needle to avoid puckering threads.

Wash lawn fabrics with gentle detergent in cool water and a gentle cycle in the washing machine to reduce wrinkling.

If you find the lawn a little slippery for cutting/sewing, spritz it with a bit of Flatter or Best Press and iron on a medium heat setting.

Light colored lawn garments may need a lining to prevent see-through.

Speaking of linings, lawn works wonderfully as a lining or facing fabric for heavy weight garments, such as coats, jackets, and structured dresses and skirts.

If you’d like to have less slip with lawn for applique, back your applique pieces with WonderWeb. The pieces can then be easily ironed onto your background before sewing.