Thursday, August 06, 2009

New Sewists Thursdays - Underlining Pt. 2

There were some questions in the comments section that I didn't want to I'm going to answer them since they are specific to the original underlining post!

1. Just to make sure I understand correctly, the underlining is not the same thing as the lining, correct? For example, you might use underlining in a skirt, but then also add a lining to finish it?

Yes, that's correct. The underlining is attached to the fashion fabric by basting or machine stitching. The lining, however, hangs away from the fashion fabric...and I typically use a lining after I have inserted underlining...but not always!

2. If the underlining and the fashion fabric are of different fibers (for example, silk organiza underlining and linen fashion fabric, how do you decide how to wash the finished garment?

I'm going to throw this out to the general population because anything that I put that much effort into DOES NOT go into the washing machine! But that's just me. Maybe someone else is not as adverse to throwing these types of garments into the washer and can offer some tips!

3. This may be an incredibly dopey question, but (gulp) here goes: how is underlining different from interfacing?

The Innovative Sewing blog defines interfacing as "Sew-in or fusible fabric used to stabilize fashion fabrics. Can also add body, reinforce, or shape a garment."

So underlining supports a fabric and assists with the properties of a fabric where as interfacing is used to stabilize and add body. Some interface a waistband or a collarband, you underline the body of a jacket, a skirt or a dress.

4. Follow-up - Underlining and interlining are the mean the same thing? Just semantics?

I think these words are used interchangeably but I can be wrong! So again, I'm throwing this out to the general public for clarification...and Angie I'm jealous that you can get silk organza at your local Joann's...

Hope this helps! These were some really good questions and I wanted this topic to be as clear and informative as possible. As always....more later!


  1. Sometimes an interlining can be added as in a winter coat for extra warmth along with being underlined and lined. I don't think the 2 words should be interchangeable but some folks use them as if they are.

  2. I have a dress that I underlined, but didn't line. The fashion fabric is cotton and I have small children and no dry cleaning budget.

    I pre-washed the underlining fabric twice as I would wash the cotton fabric. And I can now safely toss it into the washer after wearing it.

  3. I think of interlining as Joanne does, as a warm layer between the lining and the fashion fabric or between the lining and the underlining if the outer layer is underlined.

  4. I apologize in advance if the image is huge.

    Below is a link to an example of how I underlined a knit mesh top. The mesh was way too thin to wear alone and I didn't want to wear a separate garment underneath. So, I cut a second full set of pattern pieces in a black mesh (same weight), hand basted them together, and sewed the top as if the pieces were all one.

    Carolyn, I think what you're doing is fabulous. Thanks!


  5. If I am going to wash the garment, I wash all the fabric parts first. If I am going to dryclean the garment, I steam press or London shrink the fashion fabric but don't pre-treat the lining or the silk organza underlining.

    I always prewash and machine dry cotton batiste, as I don't know what it's going to go into when I buy it, and I buy 5 yards at a time.

    I agree with Joanne and NancyK on the difference between interlining and underlining. The terms are not interchangeable. Interlining hangs between the lining and the fashion fabric (or the underlining/fabric assembly) and is intended to provide additional warmth or windblocking properties to the garment.

    Carolyn, you are doing us all a great service, novice and experienced sewists alike!

  6. Susan Khalje had an article in Threads (old one, Oct/Nov 05) where she talks about the 'quilting of a loosely woven fabric to a soft lining/interlining, which gives the jackets their shape'. Then, in a January 09 article about underlining, it states that one of the purposes of underlining is to add warmth (as well as stabilise etc). The same article then goes on to say that interlining effectively and underlining whose purpose is to add warmth! If that isn't a contradiction I don't know what is :-))

    I have always thought that the two words are interchangeable, and this kind of confirms it. To me, it doesn't really matter what you call it, it depends on the type of fabric you use to under/interline as to what the final effect is - ie warmth or stabilising etc.

  7. I agree with most responders...if I plan to wash the garment, I wash my fashion fabric and silk organza before using it. If I plan to dry clean it, I steam them both first. Sometimes I take yardage to the dry cleaner and have them press it for me. I'm going to buy a steam press one of these days. Love this new venue!

  8. I have a washer that with silk and wool settings as well as extra delicate so I can usually get away with washing my garment. Because of that I prewash all my fashion fabric, lining and underlining. If I know it will be drycleaned, I steam the fabrics first.

    I would use interlining on garments as an extra layer for warmth, just as others have stated.

    Carolyn, this weekly Q&A is a fabulous addition to your blog! Thanks for starting it.

  9. Ok, I'm dating myself, but when I learned to sew in the 50's we underlined a lot of the time, especially when sewing skirts and dresses. I tend to think of an interlining as a layer between the lining and underlining or the fashion fabric as in a coat. But I could be wrong.

  10. In "Fabric Mill" lingo.....interlining and interfacing mean the same thing. When I contract with my mills to make my exclusive line of interfacing, the sample bolts always come in labeled (for example) as--
    "Interlining #0021 Fusible- specifications per Pamela Erny"

  11. If "interlining" and "interfacing" mean the same, does that mean UNDERlining is the same also? I learned to sew at Mamma's knee, then later in school (yes a LONG time ago) and "underlining" was different, was indeed used for warmth or in "fancy" fabrics as a stabilizer, and "lining" was what kept your skin from rubbing against or showing through the garment (considered not at all good to have skin showing)....

    And I DO NOT bring into my house any fabric (or clothing for that matter) that cannot be washed. Dry cleaning is horribly expensive, by the time I have something cleaned a couple of times I could have made something else to wear, plus it's not good for the environment (what do you do with all those plastic bags?). Everything going into a garment must also be washable, although I confess to "soaking" zippers, trims, etc, in hot hot hot water and then air-drying. I simply cannot afford dry cleaning.

    Kathleen in IL

  12. Underlining and interlining are NOT the same thing! As you state underlining is to support a fashion fabric that on it's own, may not be suitable for the garment you want to make. By underlining you can stabilize say a loosely woven fabric or make a see-through fabric opaque.
    Interlining is an added alyer to make a garment warmer (think winter - inter) i.e. coats, jackets even trousers. Interfacing is never used throughout a garment only in certain areas that needs stabilisation, shaping or reinforcing. Lining was something you, when I learned to sew, added to save on the inside wear of a garment; occasionally you would replace a lining, and it can be added to avoid contact between the skin and the fashion fabric or to make a garment slippery so it moves with the body. Just think of wearing a skirt that clings to your tights and you will be in no doubt why linings are a practical invention.
    Occasionally a garment will contain lining, interfacing, underlining AND interlining. Sorry to post such a long comment but hope this helps

  13. i think this post is a few weeks old so i might be a little late, but i am trying very hard to find some specific info on when to underline, to no avail...

    i am working on a woven cotton (not very flimsy) stretch dress, and am not sure whether to give the bodice an underlining to avoid too much stretching out, and perhaps give it a bit of structure, although the cotton is quite substantial so i am not sure if this is necessary (and it may make it bulky)... it is white with a black motif, but the white is not at all see-through. any pearls of wisdom would be greatly appreciated, i am going back and forth obsessively!!


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