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Lining Fabrics: How and when to line your garment

Cutting Garment

Why add a lining?

A lining is a thin layer of inner fabric that gives a garment opacity and structure. While the obvious reason to line a garment is when working with sheer fabric, there are several other valid reasons as well. For example, when working with an itchy wool or sequin quality, a lining will give the wearer day-long comfort that they otherwise would not have. It can also give a thinner fabric more structure that will add a couture quality to the piece. Clingy fabrics are also important to line, especially when dealing with a more mature consumer. Seeing a lined garment in a store tells a shopper right way that this garment is of a certain level of quality.

Should I line or underline my garment: What is the difference?

While underlining and lining a garment essentially both reach the same objective, they are different techniques. Underlining refers to basting pieces of lining fabric to the shell of the actual garment, using a number of basting methods. This adds body to the actual garment’s fashion fabric, and not be as noticeable as a traditional lining. Unlike underlining, a lining only meets the shell of the garment at a few seams, such as the shoulder seams and neck and otherwise hangs free. This technique is more widely used, and it is beneficial with garments such as coats, cocktail dresses, and pencil skirts. When working with some fabrics, however, both underlining and lining may be used together to add maximum body, warmth, and comfort to a piece.

Lining Garment

What fabric should I use?

Typical lining fabrics include a silk or poly-silk quality for suiting and woven garments and a mesh or jersey for knit garments. A good rule of thumb is to have your lining fabric significantly thinner and lighter than your fashion fabric, and to have it compliment its color or pattern. Some designers, however, choose to take a lining as an opportunity to add a bit of character to the piece, using bright colors and unexpected prints that can only be seen from the inside of the garment.

Simple steps to lining:



  1. Create your lining patterns using the garment’s existing patterns by tracing them and omitting any pleats or added fullness. Use tracing paper, pattern paper, or even poster board to complete this step.

  2. Add a pleat for ease if necessary, such as in the center back of a blazer. Finding a similar garment in your wardrobe to reference can help you determine whether or not an extra pleat is necessary for movement in this piece.

  3. Add seam allowances to all lining shell pattern pieces. It is typically a good rule of thumb to do the same or less than those of the garment’s shell.

  4. Select the appropriate lining fabric. See above for typical lining fabrics and ideas for what to use! If you are ordering swatches for your garment, don’t forget to order those for the garment’s lining fabric as well in order to compare colors and textures.

  5. Construct the entire lining as you would the garment first. Complete all of the basic seams of the garment, such as shoulder and side seams if creating a sleeveless dress.

  6. Stitch the lining to the outer garment, leaving an opening large enough to turn it inside out. This method is called “bagging” the lining, and it is the simplest and quickest method, as it allows you to almost entirely use a machine for stitching.

  7. Press the lining and garment together to regain its appropriate shape. This includes all hems and shoulder seams. You should have a complete, couture-quality garment that is ready for wear!

Shop here for lining qualities that will be perfect for your next project, and don’t forget to order your swatches first!

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