|Bodice lined in Radiance silk/cotton blend fabric|
First, let's discuss the requirements of a lining for a summer garment: breathability, affordability, fabric characteristics, and easy-care are at the top of my list.
1) Breathability: this is the comfort factor of the lining, in my opinion. I can't tolerate anything other than cotton or cotton blends in the bodice of a fitted summer dress. Even silk gets too sticky for me on a hot summer day.
2. Affordability: if you're sewing with a summer cotton for an everyday dress, I'm guessing you don't want the lining fabric to cost more than the garment fabric, right?
3. Fabric Characteristics: Are you sewing with a stretch fabric? Then you'll need a stretch lining. Is your fashion fabric sheer? Then you'll want your lining to provide opacity. (This is not to say that your lining fabric has to be completely opaque, but that it must add up to opacity when layered with your fashion fabric. Sometimes a slightly sheer lining can make a slightly sheer fashion fabric opaque.)
4. Easy-care: I like my summer dresses to be machine-washable and dry-able so my lining needs to meet that criteria as well.
With these factors in mind, let's look at some possible linings:
1. Siri. This is a cotton/poly blend that is my go-to lining for summer garments. It's inexpensive, easy to care for, and the low poly content keeps it breathable. It's hard to find, which is why I started carrying it in my shop. I have both lightweight and medium weight, both in black and white. The lightweight is very drapey and airy and feels super soft against the skin. It drapes well with silk fashion fabrics like crepe de chine or chiffon. The medium weight siri has more body, so it works well with more structured garment fabrics like sateen, pique, poplin, quilting cotton, etc. The budget range is $4 to $6.50 a yard.
2. Imperial Cottons: Looking for something like siri but in a specific color? Try an Imperial Cotton. You may have come across fabrics labeled Imperial Batiste and Imperial Broadcloth, often for use in heirloom sewing. They are a 65/35 cotton/poly blend that comes in a rainbow of colors. The batiste is a good lightweight version, while the broadcloth has more body for medium weight fabrics. Here's an online source for batiste and broadcloth. In New York, B&J carries imperial cottons for a good price. The budget range is around $5 a yard.
3. 100% Cotton Voile: If your budget has a bit more room, then Free Spirit's Voile Solids make excellent linings. They wash and drape well. The colors are beautiful and the fabric has a silky smooth feel to it. You can buy them online for around $14 a yard. Here's a good source that carries all the colors and ships quickly.
4. 100% Cotton Batiste or Broadcloth: you can find beautiful pure cotton batistes and broadcloths usually intended for heirloom sewing. They are a bit pricier than blends but make the most sense if you prefer entirely natural fibers.
5. Radiance Cotton/Silk Blends: Another notch up on the fancy scale! This is a cotton and silk blend fabric that is often sold in quilting shops. It has a slippery texture on one side and is opaque. I've lined all sorts of garments with it (including wool skirts) and loved the results. Better for medium weight garments. Fabric.com carries a good selection for $16 yard. Because of the price, I reserve this for special garments.
6. Stretch Cottons: If you use a stretch fashion fabric, you'll want your lining to stretch as well. Stretch linings are hard to find and are usually polyester only, so I recommend looking in the fashion fabric sections. Anything called "stretch poplin" or "stretch shirting" should be a good match. Fabric.com has a bunch of cotton blend stretch poplins for around $6/yard, but I've never used them. Let me know if you have a preferred brand/source!
Keep in mind that you don't have to use the same lining fabric in the bodice and skirt of a dress. For my blue and white brocade dress, I used cotton/silk in the bodice (for comfort), and silk crepe de chine in the skirt (for drape and slinkiness).
You can choose a more expensive, natural fiber fabric for the bodice and then use a cheaper synthetic for the skirt since it won't be as close to your skin. Or use a medium weight lining for the bodice to provide structure and a lightweight lining for the skirt for easier movement and flow. So many options.
I hope this helps a bit. Please share your favorite summer linings too!
P.S. A quick shop update (ignore if you're on one of those stash-busting fabric diets I keep hearing about--can't say I've ever tried one of those!). I added a bunch of new stuff recently (and will have more next week). I'm giving you lovely readers a discount this weekend! Enter code HAPPYWEEKEND to get 10% off your entire purchase. Expires on Tuesday, 6/18.