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jvmcc 03-08-2009 10:52 AM

Drafting linen
Has anyone made sails from drafting linen? I'm wondering if there is a way to take advantage of the "starch" that keeps the sheet stiff. Is it possible to cut the sail panels and sew them together before washing out the "starch"? Also, is there another word for whatever it is that turns the fabric into a sheet?

j_lefever 03-08-2009 10:42 PM

Re: Drafting linen
Wow, drafting linen, it's been years since I've seen the stuff. I guess mylar was better and of course, in these days of computer drafting, even mylar has pretty much disappeared.

Do you have a stash of linen that you don't know what to do with?

I believe you're correct, the linen is essentially a reinforcing mat in a starch based paper that, as I remember it, looked a lot like mylar. I also seem to remember that it might deteriorate if allowed to become wet.

All that said, was the linen weave fine enough to stand in as a sail? My memory is that it was a fairly course weave and stripped of its binding starch, would look more like a net than a sail. Still, if you have access to the material, what's the harm in making a try. There can't be much demand for it as a drafting medium.

Give it a shot and let us know how it comes out. You may have a ground breaking modeling concept.



jvmcc 03-09-2009 09:02 AM

Re: Drafting linen
I read somewhere that drafting linen was a choice material for model sails. When I washed the starch out of a small sample piece, what was left was a very thin, very supple, very tight weave. So, I think the linen does have potential to make good sails.
I've never made sails before, so I'd have a hundred questions about sailmaking with any fabric. The linen is interesting in that it is so stiff before washing that I was wondering if cutting and sewing might happen before I wash out the starch. It would sure make keeping seams aligned alot easier.

oodygdin 03-09-2009 10:05 AM

Re: Drafting linen
I had a summer job a long time ago delivering photostats and blueprints. One of the machine operators gave me scraps of drafting linen and told me to wash them out and make handkerchiefs. I had my mother do that and put a hem on them and they came out as the finest looking handkerchiefs imaginable. But she did the sewing after washing out the sizing - I don't know how it would have worked if she had tried to do the sewing before. If you have the material it would pay to try it before washing to see what happens.

Richard :coffee:

Clayton707 05-16-2012 07:28 PM

Re: Drafting linen
How did you wash the binder out of the linen? Just a regular washing machine that you normally use for every day clothing?


hamdul 05-16-2012 08:04 PM

Re: Drafting linen
Yes, for the most part "Drafting linen" makes good sails. I say for the most part because it seems the sizing in the linen by various manufacturers is not the same. Prior to retirement (As an Architect) I salvaged several yards of linen. These were taken from the end of rolls which had maybe 2 to 3 yards left on them. What I did was throw them in the washing machine when my wife was doing a load of white things. Sometime I would have to recycle them 3 or 4 times and most of the time they came out very useable. A cople of pieces however defied losing the sizing and remained rather stiff. The material that I deemed useable was made into sails as follows; First, on a piece of paper I drew and cut out the sail pattern wide of the drawing and pinned it to the cloth. I then cut the sail and pattern together. After separation I drew the hem lines. You must be careful doing this cuz the cloth want to creep under the straight edge. After the hem lines are drawn I spray starch the edges so that I can fold the cloth. Then I stitch the hem using a fine stitch on the sewing machine. In my opinion if you can get the right linen it makes very good sails. Almost forgot All the drawing on the cloth was done with a pencil and after the sail was made and washed the pencil lines washed out.
One final note, I don't believe that making the sail before the sizing is washed out will work. I think there is a slight shrinkage when washing the sizing out.

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