Answers to your Lawn questions…

After the same question came up several times in Tuesday’s post about the Smitten Lawns, it seemed best to reply here.  To everyone.  

That’s another one of the lawn whole-cloth quilts we made in the office for samples and trunk shows.  This one is made with Debbie Maddy’s Machi Lawns.  

Durability.  Based on my own experience – more on that in a moment – cotton lawns are very durable.  For quilt backings and garments, I have found them to wash, wear and last as long as regular quilting cottons. 

The bigger question is “how do you define durability?”  And what sort of use and frequency of laundering do your quilts get? 

First – the fabric is woven from a finer thread, one that has a higher twist.  The finer thread means a higher thread-count than quilting cottons.  Those two factors almost always make the fabric lighter and stronger.

 A quilt I made almost twenty years ago (ack!!) was backed with cotton lawn.  I . bought the fabric on sale in a shop that sold garment fabric, and it was not from that English company known for their lawns.  I loved the print and thought it would look very nice on my blue-and-white more-of-a-triple-than-a-double Irish Chain quilt.  (Don’t ask.)

I have also made lawn pillowcases for many years, and I’ve made and bought shirts/tops made with cotton lawn.

Because the quilt was on the bed and Rosie slept on the bed – don’t judge – it was frequently washed in hot water.  The quilt – and my pillowcases and garments – held up without tears or wear spots for many years.  

Camille made this two-sided lawn quilt as her travel quilt after years of using another quilt made with a lawn backing.  Jen Kingwell’s three daughters grew up with quilts backed with cotton lawn, and they were used daily and washed regularly.  

Jen also hand-quilts many of her cotton lawn quilts so she believes in the durability of cotton lawn.  (I’m sure she’s making many lawn baby quilts for the first grandchild she is expecting the end of this year.)

This is Camille’s quilt – pattern – Head Over Heels.  This pattern is available at your favorite quilt shop now – ask for Thimble Blossoms TB 223 Head Over Heels.  

The Smitten Lawns are not available as a FQ bundle from Moda.  But your favorite quilt shop might be able to help with that.

If you’re still not convinced, or worried about durability, start with something small.  A pillow would be perfect!  Use the lawn for the front and back – quilted or not – and see if it holds up to the kind of wear-and-tear you would give it.  

So what did I forget?  (Honestly, it’s always something.)

Happy Friday!  

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33 thoughts on “Answers to your Lawn questions…

  1. Thanks for all the tips! I may start with pillow cases because I can sew them up quickly and I’ll bet they are sooooo comfy.
    My Meggie always slept on my bed when I was at work until she got too old to jump up there.

  2. As a smocker, I love lawn fabrics and yes, that famous company! Lawn is not only durable-I washed my daughter’s dresses and dried them as well as ironing-but it has a beautiful hand. It is very soft and makes the best pillowcases and quilt backings.

    1. I did! Two of the lawn whole-cloth quilts shown here have a single-fold, cotton lawn binding since I didn’t want any additional weight in a heavier double-fold binding. I will happily concede that it’s an experiment but the higher-thread-count leads me to think that it will wear reasonably well. 🙂

  3. I love lawn for clothing, so I have a stash of it, and I wanted to try it in quilts but I wasn’t sure how it holds up. Glad to hear your take on it, thanks for the thorough answer. I’ve got a bunch of Moda Regent Street lawn (so pretty, soft and light!)- can’t wait to make a quilt with it. I’d love to back my quilts with lawn, too!

  4. I love lawn clothing — so feminine! Thought it would be to delicate for quilting, but you’ve convinced me otherwise. I will have to try it. Thanks!

  5. Carrie,
    Thanks for the information. This was great to hear about something other than quilting cotton; makes other wish to try out Lawn & see how it feels and quilts up.
    Good article

  6. Only downside I have heard from experience is that lawn doesn’t play well against heavier weight cottons in piecing. A teacher from years ago had used some Laura Ashley lawns in a pieced quilt and by the time she had completed the quilt (hand pieced) most of the lawns had disintegrated leaving holes in the quilt having been pulled apart by the weight of the heavier cottons. I have since avoided them. Wonder if the newer ones fare better.

    1. I don’t doubt that some folks have had less-than-good results but this is the first I’ve heard of anything like that kind of experience. Yikes! I only know from my own experience, that I’ve mixed lawns with chambray, linen-blends, wovens and Moda’s quilting cotton without any problems – tearing or disintegration. And while I don’t hand-piece, I know many hand-piecers and hand-quilters who regularly mix lawns with those fabrics.

      So maybe experiment with something small. 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for clearing that up. I’m sold, especially since they are both soft and lovely.

    And we are a family who sleeps with dogs and cats, so no judgment here. I’m convinced we all have sweeter dreams when we’re cuddled together.

  8. Thanks for the information and I have a really stupid question: do I need to prewash lawn or can I use it like my cottons without prewashing?

    1. Hi Hildy – NOT a silly question. If you’re using the lawns for garments – pre-wash. If you’re using them in quilting, treat them exactly as you do your other fabrics. If you don’t pre-wash regular quilting cotton, then don’t worry about pre-washing the lawns. 🙂

  9. Cotton lawns are amazing to make quilts with! I have a throw I made with “another brand’s” lawn and used a summer weight batting in it. It is so light weight and soft and is light enough to keep the breeze of a fan off but let cool air flow through. I’ve been using it for two summers now and Have a very loving dog and it washes well and has held up wonderfully. As for garments the drape is lovely.

    1. Our local quilt show sells it for about $24.99 for the real thing. There are some close imitations which are cheaper. I haven’t checked JoAnn’s.

    2. Cotton lawns can vary in price from $10.00 a yard for solids by “generic manufacturers” to $40.00 a yard (or more) for Liberty of London. Depending on the quilt shop, the upcoming Smitten, Looking Forward and Machi lawns should retail for about $13.00 a yard for 54″ wide fabric.

  10. Thank you Carrie for the info regarding Cotton Lawns. I am intrigued and have probably seen them before but didn’t realize it at the time. Anyway I’m going to buy some & give it a try. Thanks again.

  11. Since lawn has a higher thread count and tighter weave, what sewing machine needle should be used and should stitch length be adjusted (to prevent puckering)?

    1. Hi Sarah – I’ve found that if I’m mixing lawn with regular quilting cotton, the 80/12 or 75/11 needles that I regularly use work fine. If I’m sewing with only lawns for a garment, then I prefer using a 70/10 needle. I also use a fine 50wt. thread, or even a 60wt. I use a regular stitch length of about 10 to 12 stitches to the inch.

      But as I am sure you already know, every machine is a little bit different so I would experiment. For example, my old machine doesn’t like the 80/12 Microtex needles that a friend uses to make lawn garments.

  12. Carrie, thank you so much for sharing your extensive knowledge with the quilting community! I have learned so much from you! I have a stash of lawn fabric from the days of sewing dresses for our granddaughters. Never thought about using it for quilts. Could you kindly share what type / brand of batting you use when making or backing a lawn fabric quilt? I want to use the softest and lightest weight possible since my future holds making some baby quilts. Would you use a fusible 80 nylon/20 poly or a 100% cotton?

    1. Hi Sheila – I wish we could but that was a 2011 release so we haven’t had any in the warehouse for years. And a quick online search did turn up a Jelly Roll on Etsy but it’s listed at $129.00.

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