Choosing a lining
Considering that my No Longer Really An Anna Dress is turning into The Dress of Many Rethinks – it may surprise no one that I chose a new lining.
The fabric for the outer shell of the garment is a navy with white, small windowpane plaid, lightweight cotton fabric.
I picked up a deep blue (not quite navy), medium weight cotton last week that I was planning on using to line my (no longer really an) Anna Dress, it was fine, and would have made a perfectly good lining, but I didn’t love it. It was a little bit stiffer than I would have liked as a lining for this dress.
Then I was at work the other day, and happened upon a lovely lightweight, navy, poly lining with an excellent drape that is much more suitable, so I got it. I’ll use the medium weight cotton for a different project.
If you look closely you’ll be able to see the difference in drape between the navy blue in the middle photo, and the navy blue in the bottom photo. The first lining (middle photo) stays flat like a photo background with no difficulty at all – no lumps, no bumps, no wrinkles. While the second lining (the final photo) has much softer folds, and a quite lovely drape.
Knitting projects hardly every call for a lining, but sewing projects often do, and one of the trickiest things about writing a multi-craftual crafting blog is terminology & jargon.
I think jargon & specific terminology – especially in “making” fields (knitting, sewing, crochet, ceramics, woodworking, metal working, glass working, even computer building) – is incredibly useful, but only if you know what it means…
So I figured I’d take this rather abrupt change of lining plans to talk a bit about what a lining is, what they’re useful for, and what to look for in a lining (for those of us around here who don’t sew).
What is a lining?
A lining (in sewing) is a layer of fabric, (or fur, or other material) that goes inside of a garment, (or bag, or hat). Often a lining is a thin, lightweight fabric. It can be a variety of fibers, but most modern linings are made from a polyester, acetate, viscose, rayon, silk, cotton, or a blend of any of the above.
You can think of a lining a little bit like a second version of the outer garment, turned inside out, then placed & stitched inside the outer garment (aka the shell, or fashion fabric, or a whole variety of other names).
What use is a lining?
Linings can serve a variety of uses, including:
- adding warmth
- backing a semi-see through fabric, to make it no longer see through
- concealing the “guts” of a garment, or hat, or bag (the seams, interfacing, interlining, etc.)
- adding body, or structure to the piece
- elongating the life of a piece
- protecting your skin (or hair, or belongings) from itchy, or scratchy, or simply not pleasant fabric
While a lining can serve any (or all) of these uses in a garment/hat/bag, it doesn’t have to.
Obviously in this sundress I will eventually finish making, I’m not looking to add warmth. And since I’m aiming for a flowing garment I’m not looking to add much body (aka structure) to my garment. And the cotton I’m using as my “fashion fabric” isn’t scratchy, or itchy, or in any way uncomfortable next to my skin, so that’s not a worry either.
The main things I’m using a lining for are a) to back a semi-see through fabric, b) extend the life of my garment, and c) conceal the “guts” of my dress.
Most of the time I’m not terribly concerned about concealing the guts of my makes since most people don’t see them, but on this dress, I’m still debating (it is the dress of endless rethinks after all) whether or not I want to do a slit in the skirt or not. If I do decide to do a slit, then I’ll definitely need the lining to cover up the guts of the skirt.
But regardless of hiding the skirt guts or not, I’ll still need the lining both to extend the life of the garment, and to make the semi-see though fashion fabric no longer any sort of see though.
What to look for in a lining
What to look for in a lining depends, in large part, on what you need your lining to do.
If you’re looking to add warmth to a garment, you obviously look for a warm lining.
If you’re looking to add body to something, you look for a lining with a little more structure.
If you’re looking to protect against an itchy fabric, you look for a soft lining.
If you’re looking to make a semi-see through fabric less shear, you want a lining with a tight enough weave to not let tons of light in.
If you’re looking to conceal the guts of a garment, or want to extend the life of the garment, you’re pretty good with any sort of lining.
Really, these two uses of a lining, concealing the guts & extending the life, work together. By that I mean – concealing the guts protects them from wear, which in turn extends the life of the garment, and by extending the life of the garment (by protecting the guts with a lining) you’re also using a lining to conceal the guts.
Since, on this dress project, I’m looking to conceal the guts of the garment, extend the life of the garment, and make the semi-see though fabric less semi-see though, I was looking for a lining that would do all three of those things without adding warmth, or body (structure), and without needing to be protective.
The first lining vs. the second lining
Like I said earlier, the first lining would have been more than fine. It was a medium weight cotton in a deep blue (but not quite navy) – the only strike against it was that it would have added body (structure) to the garment.
The second lining I picked up has a far better drape, and does all the things I need this dress lining to do – without adding additional body to the dress – which will in turn allow the dress to drape, and float, and flow better.
In hindsight, I sort of knew when I was buying it that the first lining wasn’t quite right, but I was impatient. And it’s not like this was the most rash fabric purchase I’ve ever made.