Linen with Lycra
Linen is a perennial summer favorite. It is cool to wear and easy to sew. The addition of lycra adds even more comfort to linen, and it reduces the wrinkling.
Prewash in cold water and dry in a cool dryer. Do not use bleach or fabric softener. Avoid using high heat in linen/lycra, as lycra will not respond well to high heat.
Universal needles will work well in linen/lycra; choose a 70/10 or 80/12 for the lighter weight linens such as "handkerchief" or "blouse" weight linens. For bottomweight linens, use a 90/14 needle. Use cotton thread or cotton covered polyester thread for sewing linen.
Standard straight seams, medium length stitching (2.5) are good choices. You can also use French seams, fell seams, mock welt seams, and hemstitching if you so desire. Hems can be done by machine topstitching, rolled hems (in the finer weights of linen), or by hand. Seam finishes will be necessary, as linen ravels. Choose a 3-thread balanced serger stitch, or zigzag over both layers of seam allowances (if you do not own a serger).
A knit interfacing with cool-fuse properties is the best choice for linen/lycra. Use So-Sheer or Fusi-Knit, matching the stretch of the interfacing to the stretch of the fabric (usually on the crossgrain). Use a press cloth when fusing, and the lowest heat that will give you a good fusing. If you prefer to use a sew-in interfacing, use a layer of the linen itself. I generally choose to cut this self-fabric interfacing on the bias, as I think it helps maintain the drape of the outer fabric. Give this elegant interfacing option a try!
Jackets, blouses, dresses, pants, lightweight coats, vests
Linen is a perfect fabric for embellishment. Choose a decorative or embroidery stitch on your machine and use it as a border for your garment. Try a hemstitch or entredeux stitch for finishing hems or as a seam finish. Pintucks, smocking, ribbon embroidery, and applique are all beautiful when done on linen. Rayon embroidery thread and linen fabric are a beautiful marriage. With the addition of lycra, it may be necessary to use an additional layer of stabilizer. Run a test sample of your chosen embroidery to check.
The additional of lycra to linen does reduce the tendency to wrinkle, although there will still be a smaller amount of wrinkling. Ironing with a cooler iron and a spritz of water on the fabric will freshen your fabric. Avoid high heat, as the lycra will be adversely affected by high heat. Seal your buttonholes and pocket openings with a dot of anti-fray solution (such as Fray Check or No-Fray) before cutting the openings.