Altar Linen: Where Linen Comes From

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Altar Linen: Where Linen Comes From

This weekend, as I was working on a project, the thought of linen fabric came to mind.  Years ago, when sewing fashion fabrics, the linen available was to be dreaded. A mere look would seem to result in wrinkles. I used to cringe at the thought of anything connected with linen. But as the world of Ecclesiastical Sewing has opened over many years, those once dreaded thoughts have softened, just as fine linen does with time.   Some of my favorite styles of linen fabric come from  Access Commodities.  They only sell to retail outlets, such as Ecclesiastical Sewing and other needlework stores. Most of the Access Commodities Linens are suitable for hand embroidering using silk and gold threads. Access Commodities has several fine linens that are suitable for a fine altar fair linens.

I have most recently been working with Irish Linen from the UK which is very nice!  It comes in an assortment of weights from light cambric, medium weight, and even a heavier weight suitable for hand embroidery designs on small altar linen pieces such as purificators or corporals.  The more one works with these lovely linens, the more one falls in love with them. The past fears of wrinkled and crumpled fabric seem to have vanished. But why the difference? What makes the Irish, or European linens less prone to becoming an uncontrollable, crumpled mess?

A while back, I came across this website which gives some history relating to the cultivation of linen, from planting to finishing.


There is also a section on the history of linen,  which has been around for years. The climate in parts of Europe is ideally suited for the growth of linen. Thankfully, this wonderful fiber, which is so versatile, is available from many good manufacturers in both Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as from Europe, for use in the US. There are several Irish Linens that come is us via the UK that are very nice, and I think will become favorites for use in making church linens over time.

Linen is an amazing fiber, which results in a unique fabric, perfectly suitable for use in the making of altar linens and church linens.  With that inspiration, one can hardly wait to get work on a few altar linen projects! To learn more about the sizes of small altar linens and fair linens, please click HERE.

Solo Dei Gloria

Be sure to visit our online store front Ecclesiastical Sewing where you may shop for Liturgical Fabrics, altar linen fabrics, church vestment-making patterns, liturgical machine embroidery designschurch vestment trims and notions and so much more. You may also find us on  Ecclesiastical Sewing on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of the page on our online store front and receive a free copy of our Small Linens Booklet as our way of saying thank you for following along.

Do you still need help with that thing? LACE?!

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  1. Could you write more about where did you buy this European linen. Quite often I use Lithuanian linen and I like it, but I would like to try Irish one too. I try to avoid buying from US because of the taxes (if it is possible; this means that I buy something from US only few times a year). But I really want to try something more.

    • I have some Irish linen coming next week, and will try to give an up next week after it arrives. There should be a nice assortment of various types and weights of linens.
      Best regards,