DID YOU KNOW?
- Tana Lawn is named after the Lake Tana in Sudan.
- It’s constructed from the long, stable fibres of Egyptian cotton.
- There are over 43,000 Liberty prints in existence and…
- 120 new designs are released each year.
There’s no denying how much the sewing community loves Liberty Tana Lawn. With good reason; it comes from a rich heritage. The shop on Regents Street opened in 1875 and began importing fabrics from Japan, China and India. A dyer and printer in Staffordshire was employed to choose colour ranges, celebrated designers (including Walthamstow’s local lad, William Morris) were commissioned to design prints, Lancashire mills were used in the production … and in the 1920s a Liberty buyer, William Haynes Dorell, hit on the idea of marketing their cotton lawn as Tana Lawn. So a whole generation of sewing bloggers owe it all to a man named Will!
Okay, okay, you’re saying. What’s really so great about Tana Lawn? Well, from my sewing experience, here are the highlights:
It’s lightweight but fine in thread count, which makes it perfect for cool summer makes. It barely feels as though this silken (yet 100% cotton) fabric is touching your skin.
There’s no fear of a harsh ray of sunlight revealing your undies.
The quality of the fabric means that it behaves fantastically during construction. Cotton is always well-behaved, but Tana Lawn is particularly obedient.
Despite how light it is, it retains shape extremely well.
The high quality also means that creases quickly fall out. I have taken my Liberty Lilou dress to a music festival, rolling it up in a rucksack and then shaking it out to wear for a day of lolling around. You’d barely have known it hadn’t seen an iron.
Which brings me to my next point. This fabric is extremely durable. How many vintage Liberty fabrics or makes have you spied?
Those prints. They’re just to die for – or dye for. Liberty pride themselves on their colour palette, quality control and designer commissions. You’re not just wearing a dress; you’re wearing a piece of art.
And if you care about such things, you’re wearing a brand that’s almost a hundred years old and iconic around the world.
Are there any disadvantages to working with Liberty Tana Lawn?
It’s on a narrow roll width of 136cm / 54 inches wide – so you need to keep an eye on that when estimating how much fabric you’ll need for a make.
It’s expensive. All that quality comes at a price – £22.50 a metre. Unless you’re able to find alternative sources. It’s likely that these alternative sources are selling seconds, but I’ve never had reason to be unhappy with my purchases. My recommended places to shop for Tana Lawn are:
- Liberty store, Regents Street – check out for their pre cut lengths in sales. If, like me, you adore all things Liberty it’s definitely worth following their Instagram feed. Just lock up your purse first. I also recommend getting a Liberty loyalty card. Every now and then they’ll send you £5 vouchers to spend. It all adds up, peeps!
- Birmingham rag market, near the Bull Ring. Don’t ask me which stall seller, I only get up there once a year if I’m lucky.
- Ebay – I recently bought some gorgeous Tana Lawn from this seller. I did notice a small fault in the print, but no one else ever would.
- Shaukat. Not known for their customer friendliness or innovative web design, but a good source of relatively affordable Liberty fabrics.
Don’t allow the lightweight nature of the fabric to fool you into making any type of garment that relies on drape. Liberty Tana Lawn is crisp and won’t drape in soft folds.
Not a disadvantage, but you might want to remember to change your sewing machine needle to one of the finer ones.
If you mess up a make with Liberty Tana Lawn, you’re probably going to cry. Probably.
Other than that, I really can’t think of any disadvantages to working with this beautiful fabric. It took me years of sewing to pluck up the courage to spend this amount of money on cotton. Then I sewed with Tana Lawn, and finally understood what all the fuss was about. This is the real deal.
Any tips to add, readers?
Dip in! There are five other Fabric Focus posts to enjoy.