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Lining Techniques

Lining techniques

This lining techniques article is an extract from The Great British Sewing Bee: From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner (Quadrille £25) © 2016 Love Productions. Photography © 2016 Jenni Hare.

The book accompanies the 4th series and has 27 projects with full-size patterns and lots of techniques. 

Adding a lining can improve the way a garment hangs, help it to crease less, prevent bagging at the seat in dresses, skirts and trousers, avoid show-through on transparent fabrics and make it much easier to slip on and off. Lining pieces are generally cut from the same pattern pieces as the main garment, omitting the waistband, collar or facings. There are two methods of insertion: the interlining method, also known as construction lining, and the slip-lining method. 

Lining Fabrics

A frequently used fabric for lining is an anti-static polyester. It is lightweight, so it doesn’t change the drape of the garment, but it does help with all the things mentioned above as well as preventing static build-up. Although it is available in all sorts of colours, lining fabric doesn’t have as much ‘give’ as most fashion fabrics. Another option is a fine cotton lawn, which has the same properties as other cotton fabrics and comes in a good range of colours; as it is made from natural fibres, it will allow the garment to ‘breath’ more. A cotton lining is a good option for summer-weight clothing.

Coats and jackets are often lined in a heavier-weight lining or satin to give a rich, full body to the lining. As with the anti- static lining, these can fray easily so it is important to neaten the raw edges.

Lining a Skirt or Dress

Both the Interlining or the Slip Lining methods of lining a skirt can be used
 on any skirt or dress pattern, even those without linings included in the instructions.

Interlining (construction lining) Method

1. Cut the lining from the same pattern pieces as the skirt, except for the waistband and facing. Transfer marks for centres, notches and darts to the lining fabric.

Transferring markings

The pattern pieces have lots of useful information and markings to help with construction. Some of these need to be transferred to the fabric to match pieces and to correctly place pockets, darts, pleats and zips. Marking pens and chalks are the perfect tools. Test out pens on a scrap of fabric to ensure the mark can be removed and that it doesn’t ‘bleed’ into the fabric.

NOTCHES – these should have been cut outwards around the pattern pieces. However, if you have missed one, mark the placement of notches by snipping into the seam allowance a little.

DARTS – you will need to transfer the circle marks for the dart onto the fabric. A super quick method is using a pin and marking pen or chalk pencil.

Make a tiny hole in the paper at the circle placements, then use a chalk pencil or marking pen to dab a dot through the hole on the top layer of fabric (remember you are working on the wrong side of the fabric). Repeat for all the circles of the dart.

Insert a pin in the holes through both fabric layers, lift the fabric to reveal the bottom layer and mark fabric at the pins.


2. With the marked
 side uppermost, pin 
the lining to the wrong
 side of the skirt pieces with raw edges even,
matching the centres
 and notches. Tack 
together 13 mm (1⁄2 in.) from the raw edges and through the centre line of the darts.

Great British Sewing Bee tutorials

3. Make up the skirt, treating the two layers as one, until you are ready to hem.

4. Mark the hem length up from the floor.

Preparing the Hem Allowance

The hem allowance adds weight to the hem and helps it hang nicely. For instance, an A-line skirt in lightweight cottons needs only a little hem allowance of 2.5–5 cm (1–2 in.), while medium-weight straight skirts, dresses, jackets and trousers benefit from a larger hem allowance of up to 8 cm (3 in.).

1. Preferably hang the garment for 24 hours prior to hemming, which will allow the fabric to settle and even drop if it is cut on the bias. You can then straighten the hem edge before neatening and hemming.

2. Mark the hem level from floor upwards, placing pins parallel to the hem line.

TIP: When marking hem levels, make sure the person for whom the garment is being made is wearing the appropriate underwear and shoes, as this affects how the garment will hang.

 3. Working on a flat surface, with the garment turned wrong side out, fold up the hem at the marked hemline, matching the side, centre back and front seams. Place pins vertically, removing the horizontal pins.

4. Decide on the
hem allowance and 
mark the upper limit 
(the hem allowance 
needed depends on the project, fabric and fullness – see
 above). Trim the hem allowance even if necessary.

5. Finish the raw edge of the hem allowance prior to stitching the hem in place by overcasting or zigzag stitching close to the edge and then trimming close to stitching. Fabrics that do not fray, such as stretch knits and fleece, do not need neatening.


Then either:

A. Unfold the 
hem. Hand tack 
the lining to 
the skirt about
 13 mm (1⁄2 in.)
 below the hem fold, with long and short running stitches. Then turn up the hem and finish using your preferred method.

Sewing with linings

B. Unfold the 
hem. Trim the 
hem allowance 
on the lining away
 along the fold
line. Then turn up
 the skirt hem again and finish using your preferred method.

 Double-Turned Topstitched Hem

 A double-turned topstitched hem is often used on lightweight cotton clothes, stretch tops etc. The hem allowance is folded over twice at the hem edge, effectively tucking the raw edge inside.

It can be achieved in two ways. You can either fold up the hem by half the required amount and then again by the same amount, which folds the raw edge under. Or you can fold up the entire hem allowance and then tuck the raw edge inside.

 Press and 
topstitch close 
to the inner
fold of the 
turned-up hem.
Generally you
 will be working from the wrong side of the garment, so make sure that the bobbin has thread to match the fabric. If desired, stitch again, working in the same direction close to the hem edge to provide two parallel lines of stitching.

TIP: Make the hem stitching a feature of the garment by using a contrast thread colour or decorative stitch.

Twin Needle Topstitched Hem

A twin needle has two needles on one shank and can be used in most machines. They are available with different width gaps between the needles, ranging from 1.6
mm (1⁄16 in.) to 6 mm (1⁄4 in.) and in different weights, such as fine 70/9 up to jeans needles 100/16, as well as in universal sharps, ballpoint and stretch varieties.

 For hemming,
a gap of approx
 3–4 mm (about
1⁄8 in.) is ideal. On 
the top you will
 get two perfectly 
parallel rows of
 stitching, and on 
the underside a zigzag-looking stitch as the bobbin thread switches between the top threads. It is therefore essential that you sew from the right side of the garment. The results look like the hems you frequently see on high-street garments.

Very Full or Curved Hems

 On circular skirts and full A-line skirts that have a curved hem, it is usually necessary to ease in some of the excess hem allowance before turning up the hem.

1 First prepare the hem allowance, as in steps 1–5 above.

2 Next, ease
stitch 6 mm
(1⁄4 in.) from 
the raw
edge. To
 ease stitch, increase the 
stitch length 
to 4–5. Then gently pull up the stitching (using the bobbin thread) and turn up the hem allowance. The slight ripples and gathers should be in the hem allowance only, leaving the garment edge smooth and ripple free.

3 Turn the raw edge under again to tuck it inside the hem allowance and topstitch it in place.

 TIP: It is much easier to turn up a hem with the help of a friend. However, if you are working alone, a gadget called a skirt marker, with chalk puffer, is a great for marking hems on skirts and dresses. You set the height required with the right-angled marker that swivels on the pole and then, as you turn slowly, you can use the hand-held puffer to puff out a fine chalk line at the required hem height.


Sewing tips from the Great British Sewing Bee book

Slip-Lining Method

With this method, the lining and skirt are worked separately and then sewn together at the waistline.

1. Cut the lining from the same pattern pieces as the skirt, excluding the waistband.

2. First, make up the main fabric skirt, except for the waistband and hem.

3. Make up the lining skirt, leaving an opening for the zip 2.5 cm (1 in.) longer than in the skirt. Press the seams open and the waist darts away from the centre.

4. With wrong sides together, matching the darts, centres
 and side seams and aligning the raw edges at the waistline, pin the lining to the skirt. Turn under the edges of the lining along the zip tape and slipstitch to the tape.

Methods of lining a skirt

 5. Machine baste the waistline edges together 13 mm (1⁄2 in.) from the edge. Following the pattern instructions, sew the waistband or facing to the skirt.

6. Hem the skirt 
first, turning up
 an equal distance from the floor. Then make the lining hem approximately 13mm (1⁄2 in.) shorter than the skirt. (The lining hem can be a machine- stitched hem.)

From Stitch to Style GBSB book

Lining a Dress

1. Follow steps 1 to 4 for slip-lining a skirt, attaching the lining to the dress at armholes and neckline.

Lining a dress

For a Sleeveless Dress

2. Following the pattern instructions, attach the armhole facings.

How to line a sleeveless dress

For a Dress with Sleeves

2. Following the pattern instructions, attach the main fabric sleeve to the main fabric dress.

3. Sew the sleeve lining 
underarm seam, press 
the seam open, and 
turn right side out.
 With wrong sides
together, matching 
the markings, pin the 
sleeve lining to sleeve of the dress. Turn under the seam allowance on the lining sleeve head and hand slipstitch it over the armhole seam.

Techniques from Great British Sewing Bee book 4

4. Trim the sleeve lining level with the lower edge of the sleeve. Turn under 13 mm (1⁄2 in.) on the sleeve lining and slipstitch it over the sleeve hem.


To find out more about the best fabrics to use to line your garments read out guide to lining fabrics.