It’s often tempting to skip linings. They can almost double the time it takes to sew a garment; they may not show from the outside, and lining fabric costs money. On the other hand, linings can do more than just give a professional finish.
You’ll notice that couture clothes and the more expensive types of garments – winter jackets, wedding dresses and woolen pants – are typically lined. This isn’t just snobbery, although the luxurious touch linings give is a good enough reason to add them!
How Linings Make Clothes More Comfortable
Silky linings are delightful to wear, making a scratchy garment as comfortable as a silky nightgown. With tight-fitting sheath dresses, the slip of the lining helps the garment slide smoothly over the skin so you don’t get stuck. With a woollen coat, a cotton lining will prevent chafing and irritation. In skirts and dresses, a lining can function as a built-in slip, preventing friction and clinging.
Natural linings also “breathe” better than many fashion fabrics, helping to keep the body cool and dry. Conversely, lining garments can make them warmer!
How Linings Make Clothes Look Better
Not all linings are invisible. Linings under sheer or translucent fabrics provide modesty, and can enhance or contrast the colour of the fashion fabric. A lace or crocheted dress lined with silk blurs the distinction between lining and dress entirely. The opacity linings provide for sheer fabrics doesn’t just make the garments more modest, but helps to conceal seams and darts, which otherwise stand out as more opaque than a single layer of the fabric.
However, even invisible linings can make their presence known. Take the lining out of a soft, drapey dress and it just won’t look the same. The fabric may cling to panty lines and tummy bulges, wrap awkwardly around stockings, or hang flabbily limp where it should have body and curve. Knitted garments are often lined with woven ones to prevent the knit fabric sagging and stretching out of shape.
Tight skirts and pants also benefit from linings, which help prevent the garment stretching and sagging in areas of tension such as the seat and knees.
How Lining Can Make Sewing Easier
Lining is generally considered to be a pain, and I have some sympathy for that point of view! But in some cases, lining can actually save you time. Many necklines use facings to strengthen them and provide a clean line without any topstitching to finish the seam. A lining can double as a facing – on garments with multiple facings, using the one lining can be less hassle than making several individual facings.
Linings can also get you off the hook for finishing your seams. With fabrics that don’t fray too badly, a lining provides enough protection against seams chafing against the body that finishing by serging, felling or French seaming is unnecessary. This can be true even when linings hang free, but is a particular advantage in garments where the lining is stitched all around the edge of the garment (such as most jackets).
In some cases, lining is necessary to conceal an interlining – a layer usually used to give stiffness and structure to the fashion fabric. Interlining materials tend to be uncomfortable and unsightly, so a lining is needed to sandwich the whole thing together neatly.
How Lining Garments is Psychologically Fulfilling
Yep, you read that right. There’s a satisfaction in creating a couture-quality garment that looks neat and pretty on the inside as well as the outside. Lined garments tend to last longer; they’re pleasanter to wear (as long as you don’t use a nasty sticky lining fabric); and they can even add a bit of whimsy to your garments. Try lining a sober grey coat in a vivid poppy print, or pairing a classy skirt with a hideous 70s fabric in orange and turquoise. Nobody will see it, and you’ll grin every time you put them on.