Friday, 30 May 2014

The joy of underlining

For my current dressmaking project, I've decided to underline the fabric. I'm a big fan of underlining garments - I've done it a few times now (here, here, here and here) and have always been really pleased with the results. Don't mistake underlining for lining though, as they're too very different beasts. Here are a few quick differences between the two processes.

LINING
Lining a garment is often done to provide an extra layer inside it. This layer is usually attached at the neck or waistline, so it hangs loose. There are several advantages to lining a garment:

Coat lining attached at the neckline and facings, but otherwise hanging loose

  • It provides a professional finish to the inside, as all seams are neatly hidden.
  • Lining is generally sewn from a shiny, slippery fabric so it prevents the garment riding up or clinging to you. Think coat linings and shiny skirt linings which avoid the whole 'skirt sticking to your tights' scenario.  
  • A lined garment enables the wearer to slip the garment on and off more easily. 
  • A lining can also help create a smooth line over underwear etc, in much the same way as a slip or underskirt does. 


UNDERLINING
The main difference between lining and underlining is that underlining is not a separate constructed layer. Underlining is a second layer of fabriccut from the same pattern pieces as the shell fabric. The two layers are then tacked or basted together before construction begins. From that point on, the two layers are treated as one pattern piece. Garments are usually underlined to improve the appearance and structure of the main shell fabric. Here are a few reasons why you might underline a garment:

All pattern pieces are underlined before construction

  • The shell fabric could be too thin and fragile e.g a very fine cotton lawn or voile. These sorts of fabric are liable to rip after one too many unpicking sessions, so underlining would increase their strength.
  • Underlining will also improve the colour and appearance of the shell fabric. That extra layer can turn a thin grey-tinged fabric to magical white.
  • Lightweight fabrics are often transparent. An extra layer of underlining will make a thin fabric opaque, especially important with lighter coloured fabric.
  • Underlining will also improve the structure and texture of fabric, allowing it to hold pleats and tucks. 

You can, of course, choose to underline your fabric and line your garment, but generally, it's one or the other. Hopefully these little pointers will be useful for deciding whether to underline a garment or not. For more information about underlining, Threads Magazine has published an excellent article here.

Back to my latest project….. I do love the fabric, but it's sadly lacking in a couple of crucial areas. It's very thin and lightweight and I doubt whether I'd get a zip inserted without inflicting serious damage to it. It's also transparent and, quite frankly, a bit grey looking in its natural state.

Fabric before underlining

So I decided to underline it in white silk cotton. I think the composition is 30% silk, 70% cotton - just enough silk content to give it a lovely sheen, but not enough to make it misbehave. It's a dream to cut out and work with.  I underlined my pattern pieces yesterday and I have to say, I'm delighted with the results.

Fabric after underlining. A bit crumpled, but definitely a subtle difference in appearance

The white background has become brighter and cleaner and even the colour of the yellow and green sections has improved. It also feels a lot more robust to handle. Very satisfying! I'm all set to start work on my summer dress - progress report next week. Have a good weekend. x


31 comments:

  1. What a fantastic post! Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had no idea there was a difference, you learn something new everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is something that I plan to try in the near future. Thanks for the information.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for this! I have a few projects in my plans that need underlining. I struggle to find suitable fabric that's light and breathable though. Where did you get your silk cotton, that sounds perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goldhawk Rd (where else?) They do sell out quick though once they get stock in, last time I was there Classic textiles had some and also the one opposite them (A to Z Fabrics?) It's about £4 or £5 a metre and worth every penny. I've also underlined with fine cotton muslin which works well too, but doesn't feel as slinky! x

      Delete
  5. I've just underlibed the bodice of the dress I'm currently working on, and its made the world of difference to the lovely, but very lightweight, cotton lawn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fab! It makes a massive difference doesn't it?! x

      Delete
  6. Thankyou so much for this post! I love it when people explain difficult sewing things in clear and simple terms with beautiful pictures!
    Frankie
    http://www.knitwits-owls.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love that...just enough silk content to give it a lovely sheen, but not enough to make it misbehave. Bravo to you for going to the extra effort to underline. It DOES make a big improvement, and the reality is that fabrics that benefit from underlining are often flimsy and difficult to work with fabrics. So laying out, cutting, and sewing together two lightweight fabrics can be a chore...whew...I'm tired just typing that...but oh so worth it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm underlining my lemon dress, too, for the same reasons! Great post, Jane :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha! Great minds think alike! x

      Delete
  9. Jane, thank you so much for explaining the difference.
    I am making a gored Batik cotton skirt and, today, after mastering the art of sewing in an invisible zip (when did they invent them, fab) my sewing tutor suggested that I line it with lining silk. I am off to get some tomorrow, having first checked that the shop has some in stock. Now all the girls want some ;0)
    Now I shall be able to speak to Mr Shop Keeper with more knowledge.
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh this post is perfect timing for me, so useful! I have plans for a dress with voile fabric, I was going to line it, but looks like I should be underlining it instead! Thanks for this post, it was very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. An underlining can also add warmth to a winter garment if it is a warmer sort of fabric like flanelette. With a lining as well, there is plenty of airpockets to trap warmth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent point, thank you. x

      Delete
  12. Thanks for a very useful post. I've got this print in blue, purchased with a Cambie dress in mind. When it arrived I was surprised by a) the scale of the design, much larger than expected and b) the weight of the fabric, it was described as lawn. Oh the perils of online fabric shopping!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. I was also surprised at the scale of the design - I was hoping for much smaller lemons! A Cambie dress in the blue colourway sounds lovely. x

      Delete
  13. Great post, and just in time! I was about to nervously cut into a special occasion cotton lawn and line it with a China silk. But I was afraid the fabric would be too fragile to handle all that zipping and unzipping… Now I know what to do! Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good, glad it's useful! x

      Delete
  14. Such a useful post, Jane! I'm a little embarrassed I didn't know the difference....but now I do! Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. i can't wait to see the finished dress! i am underlining lace (for modesty!) at the moment and i also basted the darts. i see that you didn't - did i not need to? my lining fabric is slipperier (is that a word?) than your silk cotton tho, so i wanted to make sure the darts went properly through both layers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh underlined lace sounds gorgeous! No, you're doing it the correct way by basting the darts as well Joanne - I'm just lazy! My fabric isn't slippery so it wasn't a problem darting both layers. x

      Delete
  16. Would you mind if I asked where you got your silk cotton for underling? I have bought beautiful linen for a dress but it will really need underlining if I'm not to make a total mess - still not guaranteed mind you.....

    ReplyDelete
  17. Doh! I've just re-read all the comments and realise you have already answered this question. Sorry! Back to good old Google - or on the train to Goldhawk Road for me.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks, this was a really useful post! Ive got lots of lightweight lawns and the underlining tips have made me think of different ways that I could use it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I met you at the makegood festival on Saturday. I'm so glad I managed to track down your blog and am inspired by the beautiful pieces you have made.

    I'm in the process of making a wrap skirt (The Miette skirt you advised would be perfect for a beginner) and as I'm a complete novice I'm hoping this will be the first garment I make that I feel able to wear outside of the house!! but one things for sure I'll definitely be back here for ideas and advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw that's so lovely to hear Emma, thank you! Please let me know how you get on with the Miette - good luck! x

      Delete
    2. SUCCESS!!! I finished the Miette skirt on Saturday and it is definitely wearable. It' by no means perfect, I misread the instructions for the waistband so the interfaced piece is on the outside rather than the inside but I don't think anyone other than me would know that. Megan dress here I come :-)

      Delete
    3. Yay!!!!! That's wonderful! So glad it all worked out well, it's the perfect skirt for the current weather. You go girl! good luck with the Megan dress. x

      Delete
  20. You have the most lovely wardrobe! Thanks ever so much for the little pep talk on underlining because I needed that right now. Deciding to underline the next couple projects and you gave me good in sight and COURAGE to do it. Thanks ever so much. Can't wait to see your summer projects.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...