Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Sewists Thursdays - Linings

I've received two questions on linings:

Tricia asks:
"I am always struck by how beautifully all your dresses are lined - with contrasting binding and looking so neat. This is something I struggle with. My first attempt at lining was with a particularly slithery fabric and it did not go well at all. So, I just wanted to suggest lining a garment as a future topic for your new sewist feature."

Michelle asked:
"In this week's NST I noticed you mention that you liked to line your garments. Once, I was reading a sewing blog (but the name eludes me at the moment) and she mentioned that she doesn't like to line garments because then she would have to dry-clean it...Do you have to dry-clean a lined garment?"

First can I recommend a fantastic book on linings called, "Easy Guide to Sewing Linings" by Connie Long.  This book is published by Taunton Press and is part of the Sewing Companion Library.  Copies can be found on and at  However, I can't believe that I paid $20 for this book in 1999 and now 10 years later the cheapest copy I can find is selling for about $45!!!  If you can find a copy of this book at a yard sale or a library sale or even if you can afford to pay the $45 for it, believe me it's worth it.

The best thing about this book is that it tells you how to line EVERYTHING!  Everything from a coat, jacket to a to line around vents and how to make lining pattern pieces for patterns that don't come with a lining pattern.

ETA from MelissaL88:
If you search on the Threads site, you will find the book as a PDF download for $14. Then you can print it out yourself and put it in a binder.
**Thanks MelissaL88!!!**

The first few lines of the book by Connie Long state:
"I consider adding a lining the ultimate way to clean finish any garment I sew.  A lined garment does not cling, is more comfortable to wear, is easier to slide on and off, and looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside.  Adding a lining to a dress or skirt eliminates the need to wear a slip.  Lining even the simpliest style improves the garment's finished effect and is an important ingredient in sewing clothing that rivals high-quality ready-to-wear."

And that in a nutshell sums up why I line garments.  As to the how-to, I find that dresses and skirts are the easiest to line and where I started my lining journey.  That's because I could use the actual pattern pieces to cut out the lining fabric to make the lining.  It is also where I would suggest that new sewists start.  You can realize success by lining a skirt and then move onto other garments confident that you can handle this new skill.

So you are probably asking how to do it right?  How about I share some online references on how to line that you can print out and use when making your next lined garment.

1.  Threads article on lining garments
2.  From "Learn to sew - lining"

I feel like I'm not doing this subject justice - but each garment piece comes with its own unique set of challenges on how to line it.  How to insure that it hangs correctly in the garment and best enhances the garment.  That is why I think it's better to direct you to the teachers I had so that you get the proper skills in learning the task.

Fabrics to be used for lining:

As with all fabrics there are different types of lining can purchase a lining fabric from $1 to many tens of dollars.  Remember you get what you pay for it...less expensive can have more problems with sewing the pieces together, shrinkage, dye fastness, etc.  However, most sewists would recommend a rayon bemberg lining because it enhances the fashion fabric it is applied to...because it is cool in the summer and adds warmth to a garment in the winter...because it breathes...because it comes in an array of awesome colors and two widths...and mostly because it is a joy to work with. 

I have used other fabrics to line garments with also...things like china silk, silk charmeuse, some silky polyesters, some lightweight woven silks, and cotton batiste.  These options can be pricy or inexpensive it just depends on where you find them.  They also can add a luxuriousness to your garment.

As for the slippery factor...the fabrics that I choose for linings have the ability to ease garments on and off but I've never experienced the slipperiness of say a silk chiffon when cutting out.  But when I lay a lining fabric out, I do have my extra magnetic pincushions on the cutting table to lay at strategic spots so that the fabric doesn't slide off the table.  I've also been known to use a can or two of food for stability.  I also pin the patterns securely to the fabric before I cut them out...because I still use shears to cut out...not a rotary cutter!

To me, linings should always be pretreated before they are inserted into the garment.  As a newbie, I have skipped this step and lived to regret it.  My lining fashion fabric did garment became unwearable...all that work gone because I skipped a step.  However, I am a lazy pretreater...almost all linings go in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with hot water...yes, even the silks.  I am even harder on them because I then throw them in the dryer for a few minutes taking them out while they are still damp and pressing them dry.  But using this method, I have never had a lining shrink once inserted in the garment.  I have had a few pieces shred or develop tears during the pretreatment process but instead of being upset, I've been glad to have that happen.  That showed me that the fabric I was using was inferior and would probably not withstand the rigors of daily wear.

The drycleaning me this is a personal decision.  I dryclean 99% of my lined winter garments and 75% of my lined summer garments.  I rarely wash garments that have lining and alot of interior work but that's me.  I know other sewists who have developed means and methods for washing lined garments because they don't like dry cleaning.  This is something that I truly believe you have to work out for yourself.

Okay here comes the encouragement part of the post! *smile*  You have to try lining a garment.  You just have to do it.  If it doesn't work...realize what didn't work and use it as a learning experience.  If it was the lining fabric...chose another one.  If there were problems inserting it...find out why it didn't work.  Ask your question on one of the internet sewing boards like Stitchers Guild or PR.  Use the online references above or purchase a good sewing book but don't give up.  The old saw that practice makes perfect is so true with all parts of sewing.  Mostly don't be will perfect the technique if you just.keep.trying.

I hope I answered most of your questions...again let me state that I'm not sure that I've given this question a fair shake especially if you are looking for instructions on how to line a garment.  But as with most of these new sewists blog posts the information is general with links to give you more detailed instructions.  Hopefully this will start you along the path and encourage you to continue the journey!  And as always if someone has something helpful to add to the conversation...please feel free to do so!

Pictures of the VOT Dress are up next - so stay tuned!!!


  1. Thanks for this very helpful post. I too use Connie Long's Easy Guide to Sewing Linings as my absolute 'go to' book for linings. I bought it at the regular price from Amazon about a year ago and think I must have got their last copy - I recently discovered how much they are being sold for second-hand! I wouldn't part with my copy, however.

  2. Connie Long's book is the best!! I always pull it off the shelf when I'm making something with a lining. I'd love it if Threads would republish it.

  3. Just adding that silk jacquard makes excellent linings too. It's a little beefier than habotai, and because of its structure, is practically wrinkle-free. Some large online fabric retailers have periodic sales making s.j. far less expensive than Bemberg.

  4. Very helpful post. Thank you. I've just added Connie Long's book to my birthday wish list.

  5. Extremely helpful post. I found, once I lined a garment, I couldn't go back. I always run into problems when I add a lining to a pattern which doesn't call for it. I play the game "what comes first the chicken or the egg" especially with jackets! Thanks for the book and article recommendations.

  6. Your post is right on time. I have completed the shell of a jacket and have ripped out the lining 2x. Amazing that the lining is still in tact. I was following S. Betzina's power sewing book, but still having issues with the lining along the top of the facing and neckline.

  7. Nice post and great job at gathering informative links. I love that book and agree that Threads should republish it.

  8. If you search on the Threads site, you will find the book as a PDF download for $14. Then you can print it out yourself and put it in a binder.

  9. Here's the link:

  10. Thank you, Carolyn!!! This was exactly the guidance (and pep-talk) that I needed before tackling linings again.

    Connie Long is terrific - her Sewing with Knits is my go-to for knit/stretch fabrics. So, I may have to just fork over the $50 for her linings book.

    Clio (aka Tricia)

  11. When I was growing up, my mom made all our clothing and never lined a thing, saying, "That's what slips are for." Once I lined my first skirt, though, I was hooked.

  12. Great post, it certainly is the perfect finishing of most clothes. And agree this is a great book. I bought it only a few months ago for a very reasonable price (new). Strange to find prices over $100 on Alibris. Think I bought it for approx. $15
    Sometimes I think the prices go up a lot when someone writes a positive post on a book on their blog. It might be worth waiting a few weeks and try again (this worked for me a few times)

  13. I'm not getting it, why would you not machine wash lined garments? Is it because the agitation of the washing machine pulls the lining away from the fashion fabric?

    Where I live the fabric sold as lining material is fairly thin silky polyester stuff, is this normal? I feel like the sewing gods will get me if I use something not labeled 'lining material'!! :)

  14. Great post. I don't usually line my clothing, but the information you gave, has me thinking. I do have the book you recommended. I've had it for years. I think I paid $5 or $6 for it. Just a note: Check out Edward R. Hamilton for discounted books. That is were I got my copy(yrs ago). I also have a few other books in that series. At the time I know that they only cost me $5 to $6, because that's all I was willing to pay.

  15. Thank you Carolyn and Meli88a, I have just gone and bought the download! I have been trying to buy this book for years and the last time I saw it available it was $140!!!!!

  16. Carolyn,
    you are my sewing coach: providing knowledge and encouragement. Thank you!

    Rose in SV

  17. Anonymous, one reason I dry clean my lined garments is because I find it a pain to iron them after I wash them. I'm speaking of skirts and dresses. I wouldn't wash a jacket in the first place - it has besides a lining all those other pieces - shoulder pads, sleeve heads, sometimes sew-in interfacing. I tend to line my winter things and send them to the dry cleaners. I don't line as many summer clothes because I like to wash them. Hope this helps to explain,

  18. If my notions (lining, thread, zips, etc.) and fabrics are pretreated in the washing machine, I wash the finished garment the same way.

    The exception would be a garment from all pretreated goods that had a lot of shaping from interfacing and padding stitches.

  19. Hi, I looove it, thanks for sharing! Come check the new posts, hope you enjoy it! ;)

    Following you via rss feed, follow me too :)

  20. Thank you Carolyn and MelissaL88 - I have just ordered the download. This book has been on my wish list for a while but the big price had me beat. So looking forward to readingbthis!

  21. I have yet to line a garment - a little scared I guess. Thanks for the helpful post. I too own the book and made $5 for it on craigslist. Check that out as another source.

  22. I agree that "Easy Guide to Sewing Linings" by Connie Long is a good book - I used the instructions to make a lining pattern for a jacket and it worked! But if the book is pricy, why not get it from the library?

    I also like to use print fabrics for garments where the print will not show through. Not sure why, but this just pleases me. :)

  23. I am going through and reading all the Thursday sewist posts. This is very helpful and I'm going to go throw my dress lining in the machine right now!
    I doubt my library has the lining book, but I'll look.

  24. I really appreciate your "sewing guidance". I have three pieces of wool to make skirts that I want to line. Perfect timing! I also got Connie Long's book from the library. I just started a blog-stop by sometime.

  25. Wow - I'm glad I got my copy a couple of years ago off of Amazon for a cheap price. It is one of my most used sewing books!

  26. Thanks for mentioning Connie Long's book and the download from Taunton. $14 is a lot better for the budget. If anyone was wondering (like me) the photos are in color. Love your blog!!!

  27. Thank you! I'm loving the New Sewist Thursdays.


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