There are so many different types of fabric that sometimes it’s difficult to know what to use when. I may just possibly have mentioned once or twice that I adore Liberty fabrics and their best selling fabric range is called Tana Lawn. So what is cotton lawn? It is now made from cotton, as the name would suggest, although originally lawn fabric was made using linen. In fact the name comes from Laon, a city in France which used to be renowned as a centre for lawn manufacture when it was still made from linen. It’s made using a plain weave of very fine threads which is how it gets such a lovely smooth feel.
Cotton lawn is so fine that sometimes it can be almost see through. If using it for clothing, it’s probably safest to line the garment. As well as being very fine, the threads are also woven from extra long staple cotton and the thread count is very high in lawn fabric. In view of these facts, the fabric is not only very smooth and silky feeling but is also extremely hard wearing.
The Liberty Tana lawn was first introduced nearly a century ago when the Liberty buyer of the time, William Haynes Dorell, decided to sell a lightweight but high quality cotton fabric made with Egyptian cotton – very long staple and the cotton of choice for all luxury goods. I had always thought that Tana was some sort of technical specification but in fact there is a Lake Tana and that is how Libertys came to name their cotton lawn. According to Wikipedia Lake Tana is in the Sudan although elsewhere on Google it is put in Ethiopia and I can’t actually find it in my atlas, so it could be that it’s had a name change at some stage. Anyway it is at the source of the Blue Nile, which would put it well within the regions producing high quality Egyptian cotton.
So that was a rather roundabout way of confirming that the Liberty fabrics are superb quality. The photo shows Liberty fabrics that I bought some years ago when they produced a fabric range for the quilt exhibition at the V&A Museum – I’m still waiting for the inspiration to come for a really special project to do them justice!
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