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Since lining, underlining, and interlining all consist of different fabrics added to the inside of a garment, let us begin by explaining them. Each one has a different purpose and is handled in a different way.

A lining is assembled separately, as though it were a second garment. Placed inside a garment, wrong side to wrong side, and attached along the edges, it provides the garment with a perfectly smooth inside finish. Outer garments that may be worn open or taken off casually, such as jackets, coats, capes, are the ones most often lined.

In other garments, a lining, while not showing, will always add a feeling of luxury. It will also add comfort, if the garment fabric is even slightly rough to the touch. It may make wearing a slip unnecessary. In a straight skirt or pants, a lining will prevent bagginess at the seat and knees. A skirt is sometimes lined to just below the seat to prevent stretching and wrinkling. If made a tiny bit smaller than the garment (see “Assemble the Lining”), a lining will help preserve a garment’s shape. However, since it is not caught in the seams, it cannot contribute to the shaping itself. And if the garment fabric needs more body, use an underlining, which, as a backing for the garment fabric, is stitched into the garment seams.

Interlining, added to a lining for warmth, is usually handled as a backing for the lining. As such, it is attached to the lining sections before they are assembled and stitched into the lining seams. In tailored clothes, the interlining is loosely-woven wool. There are also special lining fabrics that are backed with finishes, allowing them to act as both lining and interlining.

Lining Fabrics

Fabrics used for lining may or may not be made specially for the purpose. There is a wide choice of special fabrics in the lining section of fabric stores. On the other hand, many dress fabrics that imitate silk-crepe, taffeta, satin, and tricot also make beautiful linings. To be suitable, a fabric should be smooth to the touch, soft, pliable, and light enough in weight not to interfere in any way with the hang of the garment fabric. Fiber content and construction may vary. China silk to line something soft and dressy; smooth-surfaced cotton blends for casual wear, are excellent.

In an ensemble, the coat or jacket is often lined with the fabric used for the dress or blouse, for a coordinated effect. If this fabric is expensive, or does not slip on and off easily, the sleeves can be lined with a lining fabric.

Fake fur may serve as a lining in a winter coat or jacket. In such a case, the coat style should be of loose fit to allow room for the fur. When cutting the lining pieces, eliminate the center back pleat provided in a regular coat lining. For less bulk and ease in slipping the coat on and off, lining fabric can be used in sleeves.

Yardage needed - When you want to add a lining not given in the pattern, pick out the pattern pieces which will be lined (not facings, collar, cuffs, or waistband); for a jacket or coat with front facings, the front lining will be smaller than the pattern piece. Use the pattern pieces to figure the yardage, taking into account the width of lining fabric.

Lining a Dress, Skirt or Pants

The directions that follow are for adding a lining where none is included in the pattern.

Cutting and Assembling

See Yardage needed, above. Cut the lining from the garment pattern, omitting the sections mentioned and a kick pleat, if any. Transfer all markings.

Complete the outer garment except for the upper edge (neck or waist) and the hem on a dress or skirt. On sleeves or pants, turn hems up and catch in place, leaving cut edge raw (not turned under). On a sleeveless dress, leave armhole edges unfinished.

Assemble the lining, leaving all outer edges unfinished, including zipper opening, and any kick pleat or slit in a skirt. To lessen bulk, press darts in the opposite direction from garment darts. Press seams open. Leave lining wrong side out.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the lining to serve in preserving garment shape, make it slightly smaller than the garment by taking ” seam allowances on the lengthwise seams.

Attaching the Lining

a. Place the lining inside the garment, wrong sides together, lining sleeves inside garment sleeves. Matching seams, darts and markings, pin the raw upper edges together (neck or waist), and the armholes on a sleeveless dress. Baste lining to garment ” from these edges, turning lining edges under at top of zipper opening.

b. On a dress, apply any facings or other edge finish. On skirt or pants, apply waistband or other waist finish.

c. At a zipper opening, turn lining edges under and slipstitch to zipper tapes, a scant ” from coil or chain. To keep the lining away from the zipper, make a line of running stitches, catching the lining to the garment seam allowance (1).

d. Working with the garment turned so that the lining is entirely on the outside, trim lining at bottom of sleeves or pants even with finished outside edge; turn ” under and press. Pin and slipstitch this edge over the hem, just covering raw edge and stitches. The slight extra length in the lining is for ease (2).

e. Working between the lining and the wrong side of outer fabric, catch one seam allowance of lining to one seam allowance of garment with a long, loose basting stitch at the following locations: on a dress with sleeves, at shoulder seams and side seams from underarm to waist or hips; on a sleeveless dress, at side seams only because the lining is held in place at the armholes; on a skirt or pants, at side seams from waist to hips.

f. On a dress or skirt, complete the garment hem. The lining hem generally hangs free, the lining being made 1” shorter than the garment. At a slit, turn lining edges under and hem to edges of opening. At a kick pleat, finish lining with a narrow hem and let it hang free.


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