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.


  1. How did it turn out? I found your blog as I'm hunting for interlining fabric here in the U.K. I'm planning on making McCalls 7478 in a wool felt, & the pattern calls for interlining. It's my first coat so I'm worrying a little, espyas im pretty sure I'll have to do my first FBA too 😳 Your post has been really informative, thanks

    1. Hi Tootsie. That pattern is gorgeous! I would love to see how it turns out. I am sure your coat will turn out just fine, just take it step by step. This was my first coat and I was super impressed with what I managed to achieve as I think coats seemm like the hardest thing to sew. You can see my finished coat here -
      I think it turned out well. I didn't use interlining but just kept to the mohair wool outer and lining fabric and it is bulky enough and actually warm enough without it. I did make another coat for last winter and used a thinsulate which is a sort of wadding (like you use in quilts)as mentioned above and I would say stay away from this because whilst it was ok in my coat it was only because it was a loose fit. Your coat would benefit from a really thin brushed cotton or similar. The lambswool interlining looks amazing (and thin) but it all depends where you live and how cold it is I think. I live in London and the public transport means you dont need much insualtion when popping on and off trains. Anyway...Hope your coat goes well and glad my post helped a little.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


It would be lovely to hear your comments. I reply to everyone within the blog so pop back to read any responses.