Made by Me!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Which Lining Should I Use??!!

I don't think I have ever thought so deeply about how to line an item of clothing as I have whilst preparing to make my first ever winter coat. If you have read my previous post you will know I am starting to sew up one of Gertie's coats from her Butterick collection - B6105. Its  a vintage inspired beauty and I cant wait to start wearing it...but it has taken me at least a month of pondering and reading up on the subject of lining to work out what I want and what will work. Its not been an easy decision to make and its really because there are so many options out there. I thought it may help to put together a little summary of what I have found. You never know it may help someone out there! And I know various other blogs have covered this as well so if you have found this searching for inspiration on linings then you may well find that you have come across them as well. I hope I can add something to the mix, at least from my personal perspective as a novice in this field. I am however going to predominantly talk about lining winter coats here, touching briefly on other linings and their uses.

Firstly its useful to define what a lining is - it constitutes a separate layer of fabric within a garment that is attached to the inside of the clothing usually at the waistband, neck or around the hem of the garment - it is not to be confused with underlining which is a second layer of fabric attached to the self fabric to give it more stability and structure, often used when a particular piece of fabric you want to use isn't really up to the job, it is too flimsy or is perhaps too see through. When these fabrics are used together you sew them as though they were one piece of fabric.

Lining is used for many reasons, to conceal the inside of the garment - no-one wants to wear a beautifully tailored jacket with exposed seams as it looks unfinished unless you make a feature out of them with say hong kong bound seams, it adds structure, durability, it can add warmth, it helps to stop the self fabric from being too see through and it can create a nice pop of colour or fun to the inside of a garment. It's so nice when someone has made a lovely jacket and the style of the inside of the garment is as well thought out as the outside.


Its been useful for me to understand about the different weights of lining and what different fabrics are used to line various different types of clothing. I felt a bit of a novice before looking into it more deeply. After a bit of research I have gathered the information below from a few different resources, it may not be complete but I think it gives a good overview. The brilliant blogger, a fashionable stitch, does a great blog post about different linings here and she also has an online store where you can buy bits and bobs and she suggests places to buy fabrics although they are all stockists based in the US so not much use to me unless I want to pay huge customs fees. Burdastyle also has a good page on lining with silk here. I also found this great document all about lining which you can download here which is randomly from the University of Kentucky Agricultural College...

Lightweight fabrics need lightweight linings, they can be both silk and man-made in origin and are used to line more delicate or flimsy items such as blouses, skirts, trousers and jackets. You can use china silk or silk habotai as I know it better (apparently the thinnest of them all), silk charmeuse, silk crepe, silk twill, chiffon, net, batiste, polyester. 

Medium weight 

Mid-weight linings include most polyester linings, silk taffeta, silk jacquard, silk broadcloth, Bemberg rayon's (viscose I believe here in the UK and also Ambiance in the US -I found Bemberg at MacCulloch and Wallis) and you can also use crepe back satin medium weight, silk or polyester and plain crepe fabric although it doesn't slide so well over clothes as it is a matte fabric. You would use mid weight lining on suits, trousers, skirts and jackets and on coats that are not heavy wool, like mine!

You can use silk satin, polyester satin, acetate twills, and acetate satins. Heavier weight satin back crepe in polyester or silk are good options as well as flannel or poplin. As the heading suggests these items are good for coats.


Quilted lining is great for warmth but adds bulk.  Fleece backed lining adds great warmth and is also called flannel backed lining - and I think in America they call it kasha satin lining which has a satin side and a brushed, more fleecy side to it - any American readers confirm or deny this? The satin side makes the clothing easy to take on and off and it provides about the same warmth as a quilted lining, but without bulk. Most of these linings require dry cleaning. I definitely want to use a fleecy lining or quilted lining on my next coat for more warmth.


The pros and cons of various different linings are listed below - please feel free to add anything that's missing.

Pros - It's a breathable fabric, cool in summer and warm in winter. It's lovely to wear, a luxury product.
Cons - It is expensive to buy and as a natural product does degrade over time. It requires dry cleaning or hand washing. 

Pros -  Easy to buy and lots of different variations and it isn't expensive - my lining was £8.99 a metre. Machine washable.
Cons - It traps sweat and isn't very breathable so can be hot and sticky to wear. It can pill and pucker.

Pros - Variations available and can be inexpensive. Breathes well and so is comfortable to wear. Machine washable and easy to care for.
Cons - Not easy to slide clothes over when taking on and off so better to line items such as bodices or parts of clothing where the body wont need to slide over it. Wrinkles and crinkles easily so not really suitable for smart garments.

Pros - Cheaper fabric which is breathable. 
Cons - Liable to rip, fray and can discolour. Can water spot and stain with perspiration. Dry clean only.

Rayon/ Viscose:
Pros - Its a very hardy fabric, soft hand similar to silk but strong weave and also breathable. Washable or dry cleanable dependant on preference, easy to look after and press.
Cons - More expensive than cheaper polyester and acetate. It is easy to shrink. 

When searching where to buy good linings it seems Vogue US has everything you need in one place. In the UK online I found the following sites which seem to stock reasonable amounts of varied lining fabrics - although not all are cheap!  
Macculloch and Wallis - this shop is great but generally very expensive!
Minerva Fabrics - this is where I got my lining from.
Beckford Silks - they do some lovely looking silks - not just for linings but they do have items of a weight suitable for this.
Stone Fabrics has a few different options.
There is also eBay of course although I always feel like its a bit of a pot luck affair shopping for things on there when you are not sure what you are looking for in the first place! Other than that you can't beat a trip to your local shop to get a feel of what you are buying.

The one good thing is you can line your clothes with so many different fabrics as long as the weight of the fabric used reflects the garments weight. Just because a fabric isn't in the lining department it doesn't mean you cant use it for this purpose.

My coat is going to be made of a medium weight fabric so I didn't want to use anything too heavy on it. I also wanted to use something that would be easy to slip in and out of and would withstand heavy usage which is obviously very important for a winter coat that will be worn pretty much every day. For this reason I decided a satiny type of material would be good to use.

I wanted to use a fabric that would last for years and not degrade and I needed to look after the pounds in my pocket as I have been out of work for a few weeks and really don't have the cash to stump up for something expensive - that money was spent on the outer shell of the jacket. That meant that silk was off the agenda, and although I was very tempted it would have cost nearer £100 to fully line my coat and I didn't feel I could justify it. The pros of using silk are that it is indisputably luxurious and it feels wonderful against the skin and its anti-static. It also breathes keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The cons are that as mentioned above it will break down over time and it costs a fortune. Maybe I will regret not spending the cash on the lining at some point...but I hope not. Most coats I have owned aren't lined in silk as its not the high streets standard lining material so hopefully it will be ok.

The pattern itself calls for a crepe or taffeta which are both reasonable linings but the reason that it suggests these I think is also because if sewn as on the pattern packet you will see the lining but I have made a change to the pattern so that the self fabric is on the outside and the lining stays inside the garment so I felt I could veer off of the pattern suggestions. In the end I opted for a satin backed crepe material made from polyester - its a matte on one side and satiny on the other. Its about the right weight, the silky side glides well which is useful for taking the item on and off and it cost me almost the equivalent of one metre of silk. I have heard it's a good coat lining as it adds warmth - I am hoping its not overly sweaty wearing a polyester lining but I tend not to feel the affects of this so much unless its against my skin and the mohair wool blend of the coat should hopefully be warm enough. I tend to get hot quickly especially walking to and from the train (usually in a hurry) and trying to regulate temperature between the street and the underground and tube trains can be a nightmare regardless of what I wearing. The only annoying thing is that I couldn't find the width of fabric I was looking for. I needed 60" but seemed to be only able to find 45" in stock everywhere so I will need to make some adjustments to the lining but only minimal ones.

Lastly I think its also useful to bring up interlining. This is a piece of fabric used in between the outer shell and lining to add extra warmth. You are meant to sew the interlining on to the lining and then use it as one piece fabric. It seems to be best to use this for coats that you want to make extremely snuggly. You would normally just use in the main body of the garment as to add it to the arms would prove too bulky - although I guess this also depends on your pattern design and personal choice. I am in no way an expert on this but I have found during my research that there are various types of fabrics that can be used for the purpose of interlining, the main one being - brushed cotton or cotton flannel, beautiful, luxurious and very expensive lambswool interlining, or Thinsulate which is available in various thicknesses. If you live in a very cold part of the world or are just never warm in winter it may be worth investigating using this. For my coat I think it would be too bulky so I am not going to use it. I did at one point contemplate it when I had my eye on another wool that was a little too thin for purpose. I was at the same time thinking of underlining the fabric to make it work structurally but apparently you shouldn't underline, interline and line. I imagine it would make you look a little like a Michelin man!

Anyway - I hope this helps someone a little bit if they have questions about lining fabrics. It would be great to hear what other people have to say or to add to the lining debate! I just hope I haven't made the wrong decision for my coat when I have thought about it so much it made my head hurt!! Happy sewing.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Coat Toile - Butterick B6105

Due to decorating my house for the last couple of weeks I haven't done much sewing. It took much longer than I wanted to finish everything so when I finally got the chance I jumped on starting my winter coat. It's getting chilly very quickly outside and I didn't want to leave it much longer. I have a couple of winter coat patterns I want to make up but the first I am embarking upon is the easier of the two; the Butterick B6105 full length coat from Gertie's pattern collection. I wanted an easier pattern to start with as it will be my first ever coat! Slightly nervous!!

The funny thing is I looked at the cover of this pattern and immediately hated the long version, only because I thought the fabric was vile, but the wool I have ended up buying is a pink and black checked wool mohair blend which I think will look a little like the pattern packet. It wasn't intentional but maybe a subconscious decision somehow to replicate it. I just hope it looks more elegant than in the picture! I am keeping the fabric aside until I finish the coat so you will have to come back to see how it works out!

The coat has a very simple construction and the lining mimics the entire outer pattern in shape. The lining attaches to the wool around the edge of the bodice and under-collar and when on the lining is meant to be rolled down to create the upper part of the collar so you see the lining on the outside of the coat - as you can see in the picture.  I wanted my collar to be made of self fabric so I embarked on creating a toile as I realised I needed to understand how the coat was constructed before I could change anything, and most importantly I needed to check fit. I have made some of Gertie's patterns before and had to adjust the width of the shoulder so wanted to make sure it looked okay. It was also to make sure the style looked good on me as I didn't want to cut into my fabric only to find I hated it!! I spent a lot on my fabric....I hope I wont live to regret that, however, I think you come to a point with your sewing when you want to start making things a little more extravagant and essentially made to last so splashing out occasionally is okay in my book. And that's partly why I am keeping it simple this time round in the hope that easier means less likelihood of a botch job!!

The toile came out well (although admittedly I could have pressed more of it especially around the collar!). To make the construction really clear I used a creamy calico to represent the wool and a green cotton to represent the lining.  The fit generally was really good although I have taken 1 cm out of the top of the armhole and tapered it down to midway into the armhole to bring the sleeve cap in line with my actual shoulder. It was sloping down slightly before I altered it and whilst checking on my other winter coats to confirm where the sleeve cap stopped on my shoulder this seemed the correct thing to do. When I made the adjustments I felt that the coat changed shape a little to really sit properly on my frame.

The only other change that I made was to work out where the collar started and finished on the lining fabric and how much of it was seen when the coat was on. I then marked that area roughly with pins and transferred the markings on to my pattern piece making sure there would be enough wiggle room for error in terms of making sure the lining doesn't peek through when the coat is on.

It was really straightforward as the front bodice lining pattern piece could easily be cut into two at the neck line, moving the line down to a few centimetres in front of the front dart.

As you can see when I roughly sewed the toile back together again it worked! And I think you can see the improvement in the shoulder as well - the right shoulder definitely sits better than the left which has been left untouched.

I am not worried enough about the rest of the coat to check the fit as the skirt is flared and not fitted so I think it's now time to cut the coat out... that is when I finally decide what to line it with. My next post is going to be about the trials of deciding on lining and what products I have found and what I have learned. I am not finding the decision easy although I am almost there!!

Is anyone else attempting their first winter coat? If so what pattern and fabric are you using and have you splashed out on special fabric?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My Winter Wardrobe In The Planning

I have spent some time looking over various patterns and fabrics to put together a list of things I am going to make for my fall to winter wardrobe....and I better get a hurry on as its getting far too chilly for my liking! I have tried not to dive in and get just anything that takes my fancy but to think more about the items I am going to make and how I am going to wear them - and colour is a very important aspect of this. To be honest planning ahead this much is a new thing to me and something I am trying to be better at as in the past I would happily make something without thinking about whether it fits in somewhere in my existing wardrobe. I think you can get away with a more random selection of patterns in a summery wardrobe but a wintry one requires more forward planning as there is more layering going on and not to mention coats to think about. Colour co-ordination is key! I have to admit that when I had ordered all of my fabrics and I got them out all together the key colour theme was black....mmm....I think I will have to inject the colour into my outfits with my accessories then!!

The first fabric I bought was a cotton lawn which I have shown on this blog before. Its called Gnome Pants and is from Rashida Coleman Hale and the 'Moonlit' collection. I fell in love with it as I was searching for a fabric for the Holly jumpsuit. When it arrived my boyfriend declared it looked like something out of the eighties which wasn't really the look I was going for, however I am still sure it will look good when I make up my chosen pattern. I want to make the wrap dress from Gertie's new book 'Sewing Vintage Casual' and I think this will be super cute. Every winter I resort to wearing jeans and boots and some top or other and berate myself for not having more dresses. This year I plan to change that!

The next fabric is a Robert Kaufman fabric which is blacky blue in colour. It is called Dot Chambray from his 'Chambray Union' collection. Its a super simple design and I think it will go with most things. I want to make the Anemone skirt from Deer and Doe which has been on my list for ages - in fact I think I have had the pattern for about 6 months already. I plan on making the shorter of the two pattern options and have seen some lovely versions online. I do think however that this fabric is way too lightweight for this skirt so I plan to underline it and omit the lining on the skirt to stop bulk. I am hoping this will make the skirt look more structured, the side sections on the shorter skirt flop too much in a  lightweight fabric.

This fabric is by Atelier Brunette and is called 'By Bye Birdie' in black. It is a cotton which feels the same as a lawn in weight so its not too heavy. I had ideas of making this into a bomber jacket with a lining for the autumn - I still haven't got round to making up the raglan bomber from Papercut Patterns and I actually think this could work quite well. I am still debating what I would use to line it with as I would need something warm without adding too much bulk. I plan to talk a little more about linings in another post but suffice to say it isn't an easy decision to make as there are so many options and I am a little bewildered by which way to go. If I don't make up my mind this could easily become a dress in some shape or form!

This fabric is from Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics and is called 'City Lights Night', it has a black background with colourful dots which I guess represent tower blocks at night. It is listed as a quilters weight cotton but I think it's suitable for dressmaking as it isn't too heavy and has a nice drape. I was thinking this would be lovely made into the Megan Nielsen's 'Darling Ranges' dress but am instead opting to make the 'Holly Jumpsuit' by By Hand London using the top of the button down version and then omitting the trousers and adding a nice skirt instead. I did wonder about making the playsuit but think this will suit me much better and then I saw the version Katie from 'What Katie Sews' made and it cemented my decision!

This fabric is the one I bought to make the Holly Jumpsuit when I planned to complete the sew-along. It is from Moda by Laundry Basket Quilts and it's a jelly bean batik fabric called 'Moss Fruity'. I now plan on making it into a full, midi length skirt. I have an idea about how I would like it to look but just have to draw it and make the pattern up. I think I may underline it to make the fabric more structured as I don't want it to flop. I think it will look lovely with a simple t-shirt or jumper. The colours are very autumnal so they fit the season well.

I also plan to attempt the Nettie bodysuit from Closet Case Files. I have been eyeing it for a while and it would work perfectly as a winter staple. I feel more confident about having a go at it now I have some more experience with jersey fabric with the Myrtle dress and White Russian sweatshirt.

In another post I am going to talk about making winter coats. I have a few patterns I am planning on making up and one I am in the process of making a toile for.

I cant wait to start making up my winter wardrobe. What do you have planned for yours?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Captial Chic Patterns Sweatshirt... with a little bit of grrr!

I have finished Capital Chic Patterns White Russian sweatshirt adorned with a lovely lion....grrr.... I am sitting here after a day of decorating by my fire - it truly is autumn and I am officially cold - and this sweatshirt is the perfect antidote to keep me toasty...and stylishly so I would hope.

The patterns are all named after a cocktail which is very cute and cater to the intermediate to advanced sewer. I have mentioned the pattern company before but it is worth taking a look at their site - especially if you need some work wear inspiration or like smart dresses - the Martini dress is divine and if I ever have reason to make something so smart I will jump on it! I chose to make the most relaxed of the patterns. It is a raglan sleeved sweatshirt that can be made in various versions, with self fabric cuffs, neckline and waistband, and I went for the standard long sleeve with a quilted picture of a lion on the front. Super cute. You cant see it so easily on the site as she sews the lion in a grey thread so it blends in but the one I made you can hopefully see better. I stitched the lion in a blue thread - mainly because I imagine I will wear it with blue jeans so it has some small colour reference there. It was also to show off the design a little more. There is also a fox template in the pattern pack and a suggestion to do diamond criss cross quilting and then its up to you and your imagination!!

The fabric I used was a loop backed sweatshirt jersey in marl grey. I didn't want to spend loads on it so bought it from an eBay shop. Its nice and soft inside but I think this pattern could also use a slightly heavier jersey, especially for when it gets colder. Right now luckily my fabric isn't too thin. I wasn't quite sure what I was buying though in all honesty, I still find jersey a little confusing and have to really search around to make sure I am getting the right stuff. I also found it a little difficult to get any other colour than grey, black or blue. Where do you get the good stuff from when you want a little bit of variety? If anyone can tell me it would be much appreciated!

To make the quilted section you draw the picture on to tissue paper and then stitch it on to the front of the sweatshirt with the wadding in place on the reverse - and I used the thinnest wadding I could get hold of. I also put some of the main jersey fabric across the wadding inside as I didn't want it to be exposed and to rub against me when I wear it. I imagine it looks neater like this as well as preserving the wadding a little longer when washing and wearing. Once sewn its a good idea to zig zag the outside of the jersey after trimming the wadding and jersey back.

My main advice here is to make sure the fabric is dead flat and then to tack the hell out of both the fabric and paper design so it wont move. This basically means tack corner to corner, at intervals across and down. This stops it moving too much and in my minimal experience when making quilts this is what you would do when you are putting the backing on and creating the actual quilting stitches. It helped enormously as you have to do a lot of twists and turns whilst sewing this. My second tip is to do it very, very slowly!! I have a setting to choose the speed on my sewing machine so I set it to super slow so I didn't get trigger happy on the foot pedal. Due to this I didn't need to unpick any of it which is a pretty new experience for me!

Once you have finished the quilting you can easily peel away the paper and reveal the lovely pattern. Once trimmed and finished off its a nice, lightly padded section that just lightly pops away from the main sweatshirt front in a sort of 3D effect. Although you cant really see that in this photo!

I sewed the top up with my serger, using my sewing machine just to tack the pieces together, a good tip I found out whilst sewing together the Collette Myrtle dress as it stops the fabric from slipping around. This meant that all the seams matched perfectly...yay!!

I absolutely recommend this pattern. Its an easy one to sew up and its something I will wear regularly. I think I will definitely try it again in another colour, with a thicker and fleecier fabric and try another design, or add a front pocket. The great thing is it's easy to put your own designs on it and it is a great technique to think about using on other patterns. Would you like to sew one of these up or have you already made up your versions? I would love to see them.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Bunny Print Shorts from Love Sewing Magazine

I have to admit to getting sidetracked from the Holly jumpsuit sew-along. I thought about starting it so many times last week and in all honesty I am just not sure if I want to make it yet because I suddenly realised I am not sure if I am actually going to wear it when I do - I have been thinking it may not suit me so thinking about it for a little longer. I want to focus on things that I will definitely want to wear and so I am putting it to one side for now, although probably not forever. So instead I made up a quick pair of shorts from the Love Sewing magazine. Now officially my favourite sewing magazine!

The shorts are made from a viscose fabric, blue with white, red and green bunnies on it. Very cute and cheap too so not an expensive thing to run up as you only need a metre of fabric. And on the plus side I made them up in only a few hours.

I really like them and sometimes something super simple proves to be a satisfying make.

The waistband is elasticated along the back whilst the front is a normal faced waistband meaning it doesn't have any annoying zippers to insert. Perfect for a beginner or for a quick project in between harder patterns.

All in all a pretty pair of shorts and I'm very pleased. Now on to the next project!!