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Sewing with Cotton/Linen Canvas: Colette ♥ Cotton+Steel

Colette is excited to be partnering with our BFF, Cotton+Steel for a fun and informative Substrate series. Devon, who you might recognize from our Sewalongs, will be teaching you all about how these fabrics are made and what’s so great about them over at the Cotton+Steel Blog. On the Colette side of things, we will be sharing our techniques for sewing these fabrics and which patterns work well with them and why.

Today’s featured substrate is cotton linen canvas.


Cotton Linen Canvas is a heavy to mid-weight fabric that is an absolute joy to work with. Cotton+Steel’s canvas is made from a custom blend of linen and cotton. Its natural unbleached color gives a warmth to the prints, and washing gives it a wonderful texture.

The cotton in the blend adds some wrinkle resistance to the fabric and even though it’s a canvas, this fabric is not too heavy for garments. Cotton linen canvas is a stable, easy to work with fabric that has a unique combination of breathability and durability. Yet, there are a couple of tricks that will make your working with cotton linen canvas even more delightful.

My Zinnia is sewn up in a cotton/linen canvas from Black & White 2016 Collection, Woodblock by Melody Miller.

Fabric Care:

You absolutely should pre-wash this fabric. Cotton Linen canvas will be softened by pre-washing and will shrink quite a bit. Machine wash warm and tumble dry.

This is the amount of shrinkage that occured on a 5″ square of cotton/linen canvas after washing warm and tumbled dry.


This cotton linen canvas can hold up to some heat as well as moisture, use a hot steam iron on linen setting. You may also spray difficult wrinkles with water and then press.


Due to the thickness, it may be easier to cut out your pattern on a single layer. Cotton+Steel’s cotton linen canvas has some pretty large motifs. Be weary of the motif’s placement when cutting. You don’t want to end up with a big ol’ cat face on an unfortunate location.


Chalk pencils and tailor’s chalk. Linen cotton canvas is hardy and doesn’t require the use of fine tailor’s tacks. Be aware that fabric marker’s ink may not be easily removed.


Most likely none; the fabric has enough body on its own. If you must use interfacing, test it first.


50wt thread made from polyester, cotton-wrapped polyester or cotton are well suited for linen cotton canvas. The polyester is a bit stronger than cotton. For topstitching, use a 40wt thread. You’ll be surprised by how much better it looks by just jumping 10 lbs in weight.


Size 90/15 to 100/16 Universal or Jeans needle. A Jeans needle has a smaller point than a Universal, a deeper scarf (which helps with thread delivery), and a modified shaft that sews without pushing the fabric down into the needle-plate. It’ll penetrate through fabric and meet the bobbin hook better on dense woven fabrics.

NOTE: If you are adding decorative finishes to the seams, consider using a topstitch needle along with topstitch thread to give your garment a professional look.

Seam Finish:

Bulk adds up with linen cotton blend. Try serging or zig-zagging raw edges and pressing seams open. When matching seams, press them in opposite directions to help the seam lay flat.


Linen/cotton canvas can get a bit bulky, when hemming a curved hem, you don’t want to struggle with making those little folds in your fabric to make it all fit. Try using hem tape to turn your hem under or serge your raw edges and create a single fold hem.

Suitable For:



There may not be anything more satisfying than pressing pleats in cotton linen canvas. This substrate holds up to heat and moisture and wont shift around like other fabrics. Version two of Zinnia has crisp pleats throughout the waist that give the skirt its shape. In the cotton linen canvas, these pleats give the skirt a structured, vintage-looking fullness.


Skirts make a great project for a beginner sewists and cotton linen canvas is a great match as a beginner fabric. You wont need to fuss with stretch or slinky texture, your only job when sewing with canvas is to put a heavier needle in your machine and sew away!



Phoebe is a great choice for cotton linen blend because it is shaped by princess seams. The structure of this fabric will hold the shaping and there’s no need to fiddle with perfectly curving your darts. Also, this dress is sometimes worn as a pinafore, the weight of the fabric allows a button-up shirt to be worn underneath without bulgy button bumps.


This dress has a very mod style and the cotton linen blend’s well-behaved manner and press-ability is great for getting those crisp lines and perfect points. The Lily also gives you the opportunity to use a contrasting fabric on the neckline and pocket details, making it easier to use even more C+S designs!

Details to avoid:

  • Gathering
  • Multiple seam intersections

Sewing Notes:

  1. Increase the pressure of your presser foot when sewing heavier fabrics. It will help your feed dogs get a better hold of your fabric and feed it through your machine.
  2. Your tension on your machine may need to be adjusted when working with cotton linen blend, especially if you changed your thread weight or needle. Test, Test, Test!
  3. When turning corners, you may have a hard time managing the bulk of cotton linen blend. Try using David Page Coffin’s techniques for turning corners, instead of poking your fabric to shreds.

Make sure to hop on over to the Cotton+Steel blog today to learn more about this fabric substrate and their production process.

To celebrate our collaboration with Cotton+Steel, from now until July 29th at Midnight, PST, the Colette patterns featured in this substrate series are 15% off.
No promo code needed.


Stay tuned as we dive into some more Cotton+Steel substrates next week and if you didn’t read our write-up on Cotton+Steel double cotton gauze, you can view it here.

Katie Whittle


Katie teaches new skills through in-depth tutorials, sewalongs, and articles for Seamwork Magazine and The Colette Blog. She's all about encouraging sewers to try new techniques and create a personalized wardrobe that makes them feel great!


Betty Jordan Wester

July 21, 2016 #

Very pretty. That’s a nice fabric choice for the Zinnia.


July 21, 2016 #

I made my bro a negroini out of cotton steel canvas. He loves it and it has held up exceptionally well!


July 22, 2016 #

That is awesome! I love the pocket detail in that fabric!


July 22, 2016 #

Thanks so much for this series! I’m new to sewing and also have to buy fabric mostly online so articles like these are so helpful when I’m trying to choose fabric. Would it be possible to also share links of where to buy this fabric? These are gorgeous and I would love to know where to find them online.


July 22, 2016 #

Of course, Sara! The easiest way to find a retailer near you is through Cotton+Steel’s retailers page. If you are looking for an online retailer, there are plenty, including my hometown store, Fancy Tiger Crafts!


July 22, 2016 #

I was wondering, can you make an unlined jacket with this type of fabric? Thanks


July 22, 2016 #

Absolutely! I remembered seeing a really cute kimono style jacket made from one of Cotton+Steel’s cotton linen recently. Here’s the link.


July 24, 2016 #

Love those shoes. Would you happen to know the brand? Thanks so much.


July 26, 2016 #

Would love to learn about sewing with leather.


August 15, 2016 #

I love the skirt, but I’m dying to know what brand of sandals those red ones are! Would love to have a pair.


August 15, 2016 #

Aw Martha! They are vintage, Modcloth might have something similar though <3