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 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.
The main difference between lining and underlining is that underlining is not a separate constructed layer. Underlining is a second layer of fabric, cut 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