The Story of Liberty Lawn

Farmhouse Fabrics Liberty Lawn

If you were to ask us what our favorite fabric in our store is, we really couldn’t tell you. How could we choose from such a vast array? There are so many fabrics to choose from, and we need to decide on just one?! Of course, we could go on and on protesting, but in the back of our head there would be little voice whispering, “Liberty of London lawn“. Now, we still are not committing to choosing a favorite, but we can certainly say that Liberty ranks very high on our list of lovable fabrics.

Lawn itself is a category of fabric that is lightweight and delightfully crisp. Its weight falls between that of a pima cotton batiste and a nelona (see our previous post on heirloom fabrics). It is the perfect fabric for blouses, lovely summer dresses, and other projects where you want a light fabric that will also wear well. Although lawn today is made of cotton, historically it was made of linen fibers. The town of Laon (sounds like “lawn” but without the “n”) in France used to be renowned as a city of lawn manufacturing-hence the name of the fabric! Lawn is made with very long, fine cotton fibers and has a very high thread count-which gives it that smooth feel. So are all lawns equal? The short answer to that is “no”. To hear the long answer, keep reading about Liberty of London lawn.

Liberty of London is a department store in London, England founded in 1875. It was known for its luxury products from the East. Shortly after its founding, Liberty quickly became the fashionable place to shop and their fabrics were highly sought after. The store’s founder, Arthur Lasenby, intentionally built strong relationships with English designers and the store became one of the most prestigious in London, although its influence reached beyond the borders of England. Liberty was actually so influential in the spread of the “Art Nouveau” style that in Italy it was referred to as the Stile Liberty. Their prints are very distinctive to this day.


The Liberty store was built from the timbers of two ships: the HMS Impregnable and the HMS Hindustan

Liberty Tana lawn is not only well known because of its fabulous, distinctive prints, but also the luxurious, smooth feel of the fabric. So what makes it feel so good? Liberty lawn is called “Tana” because it is made of Egyptian cotton, which grows near Lake Tana in Ethiopia. Egyptian cotton is an entirely different plant from simple cotton, and the rich soil on the banks of the Nile is perfect for growing the exceptionally long cotton fibers of Egyptian cotton known as “staples”(they actually are called Extra Long Staples, or ELS). These staples are then turned into an ultra-fine yarn. The long fibers mean that there are fewer meeting points (or “splices”) in the thread than in short, common cotton yarn which in turn means that the yarn is strong and smooth. Because the Egyptian cotton yarn is so fine, more threads can be packed into a square inch than in ordinary cotton which creates a higher thread count. All of these elements help to create the cool, comfortable, and deliciously smooth Egyptian cotton Liberty lawn.

Farmhouse Fabrics Liberty of London

It really is incredible researching how this fabric came to be…it gives us a whole new appreciation for the beauty and the luxury this fabulous lawn brings to the table. After finding out how special Liberty Tana lawn is, we love it even more! Almost enough to call it our favorite…

8 thoughts on “The Story of Liberty Lawn

  1. Jinkie says:

    The Lawn fabric is beautiful to work with and the prints are amazing. I enjoyed learning about the history of lawn fabric. I do have a question if you will forgive my ignorance, but I was wondering how is lawn different from voile fabric. Both are about the same weight and equally hard to find. I was just wondering.


    • farmhousefabrics says:

      We have always found that voile is more sheer than lawn. Lawn is definitely more opaque and it also has more of a smooth finish. So that’s the Farmhouse definition 🙂 They can both be beautiful fabrics!


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