Lining a garment can seem like a lot of extra work: buying more fabric, cutting out the pattern again and all that extra pinning and sewing. It’s enough “extra” to make the idea of skipping this step awfully tempting. But some garments really do require a lining to be functional. Here’s what you need to know before starting to sew one.
Why You Should Add a Lining
While it’s fairly obvious why you would line a dress made of sheer fabric, there are many other reasons for adding a lining. It’ll make a garment made from itchy fabric (like wool) more tolerable on your skin. Lining will also hide unsightly seams (like on the inside of a jacket or on light-colored fabric), provide additional warmth and give a garment structure, shape and a better fit. Plus, if a drapey dress has lining, it will skim over the body rather than cling in all the wrong spots.
Even if none of these reasons apply to the garment you’re making, it’s still smart to add a lining. It’ll instantly kick your design up a notch into couture territory.
The Difference Between Lining and Underlining
Underlining is another method for achieving results similar to lining a garment. But the two are not one and the same. Underlining involves cutting the pattern from main and lining fabrics, then basting the two pieces together before constructing the garment.
Lining, on the other hand, is a mirror of the garment, and it’s sometimes cut from separate pattern pieces and then sewn into the interior of the garment. Unlike underlining, lining is attached to the garment only at the neck or waistband, and it hangs free within the garment. Garments that are underlined can also have a lining.
How to Choose the Right Lining Fabric
There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for lining. First, if your main fabric has any stretch to it (like a knit), your lining needs to have an equal amount. If it doesn’t, the garment ultimately won’t fit.
If your main fabric is sheer, consider how the lining would look underneath. Do you want it to match your skin tone or the main fabric so it goes unnoticed? Or do you want it to serve an aesthetic purpose? If it’s the latter, you can use a much more unexpected shade — a pop of color or an interesting pattern can be fun, even if you’re the only one who sees it.
Fabric content is also important. Natural fibers, like cotton, are the most breathable and provide warmth, making it a great choice for garments. Jackets and coats require a much heavier lining though, so you want to consider something like faux fur.
How to Size Lining Correctly
Lining needs to be slightly smaller than your garment, so add ⅛” to your seam allowance when sewing. To avoid the lining showing on hems, adjust the hem lining to be ½” to 1” shorter than the garment.
If you’re using a pattern that does not provide instructions for installing a lining, consider how the lining will be attached to the garment while still hiding the unfinished edges of the lining. If the garment has a zipper or button closure, install the lining before adding the closure, ideally at the neckband or waistband.