Friday, June 14, 2013

Linings for Summer Dresses and Skirts

Bodice lined in Radiance silk/cotton blend fabric
I've noticed there's some confusion out there about linings--especially what kind to use for summer garments. So I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

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. 

39 comments:

  1. What a great source! Thank you!

    I wish I could wear polyester or blends but I sweat and overheat even in low poly blends :( My linings are either 100% cotton or cotton/silk. Not sure why everyone says polyester is breathable and wicks away moisture.. complete opposite here.

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    1. You are correct! Polyester is synthetic, (plastic). Also, poly doesn't age well, becomes brittle and in a cotton/poly blend, will wear against the cotton fibers and shred the fabric over time. Advantage over cotton, cotton/poly blends do not shrink so a pre-wash before cutting a pattern isn't necessary.

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  2. This is an extremely timely and informative post, Gertie, thank you. I today am getting ready to underline my cotton 1944 house dress - and was thinking of batiste or voile - but now Siri - another options - and I really didn't understand the differences but now I definitely do!

    Pam

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  3. I really needed that post! Thank you so much.

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  4. After picking up my jaw off the floor when I saw that you used Radiance as *lining* (it's one of my favorite "splurge" fabrics, and OH, that must be a gorgeous-feeling dress!) I wanted to share that Martha Pullen has a bunch of radiance on sale now for about 4$ a yard or something like that. I already got mine, so have at it!

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    1. Is it cool if I profess my undying love for you here, Geoknitter? Thank you so much for posting this! I now have way more Radiance (fyi for other bargain hunters, Martha Pullen calls it Elegance) on its way to me than is probably necessary. Hooray!

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    2. Thank you, sparkledonkey, I was just about to ask if she calls it elegance rather than radiance!

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  5. What a good post. I'll have to bookmark it for later. I'm quite new to clothes sewing so haven't got to lining yet.

    Sarabeth
    Life of an Agnostic Sunday School Teacher

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  6. Thanks for this rundown! I usually like cotton voile myself. Hartsfabric.com carries solid colors for less than the freespirit voile. It's really helpful to hear about other options.

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  7. Really useful post, thank you!
    Although I have a few garments where the lining cost more than the dress fabric, either because I got the dress fabric in the sale or as a remnant, or just because something cheap and cheerful caught my eye, but I wanted the garment as a whole to have a bit of class!

    I'm currently trying to choose a lining for a shirt-dress I have planned (once I've made a toile that works; it's a vintage pattern so I'm still trying to figure out the sizing!); the dress fabric is a deliciously light wisp of a cotton voile, black with big one spots and half-spots on it. I was going to use black silk cotton or cotton voile, but having played with the fabric a bit, I think that might dull the spots; maybe white lining would be better? or perhaps a nude colour, in case the white under black doesn't work? Either way, I fear I'm going to have to break my self-imposed fabric-buying ban (again!).

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  8. I was JUST asking my mom about lining fabrics literally yesterday, with a summer dress in mind. How perfect is the timing of this post (and the coupon for your shop, which I'll be hitting for some Siri lining this weekend). Thanks Gertie!

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  9. Hancocks Fabrics (not the fancy one, the chain) has a batiste that is like Imperial for 4.00 a yard. It isn't bad at all.

    But...I bought the softest white cotton voile on Fabric.com and I bought 6 yards and wish I'd bought twice that. It was on sale for about 3 or 4 dollars and although it wasn't as smooth and silky as the Freespirit -- and is much lighter, it is so soft and yummy as a lining. I love soft voile so much I want to marry it.

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  10. okay third time's a charm.....
    thanks for such an informative post... and I've been sewing for over 30 years. I can just imagine how useful a new sewer will find it.
    fabric diet? haha have you been reading my blog? I have been destashing for some time now. need to use it up and sell the finished item to make the money to start a new fabric stash!

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  11. I usually use cotton batiste as lining for my summerdresses. Thanks for making me aware that you can use different lining for bodice and skirt. At the moment I am also on a fabric-buying diet, except for linings.

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  12. Thank you for the great information, I was trying to figure out linings for my next 3 projects. This helped a lot.

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  13. I live in Sydney Australia. Humid for a lot of the year and never get very cold. We think its freezing if it gets below 20 Celsius. I line my bodices with batiste. If I can't find a close colour, I dye it to match. I don't line skirts with cotton because I find it sticks to your legs and creeps up as you walk, especially if you are wearing leggings or tights. I line my skirts/bottom half of dresses with acetate lining rather than the more common polyester. I find this breathes better.

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  14. I use cotton sateen very often. Once in a while I use broadcloth but I want to start using voile. I've never heard of Siri but I'll check it out.

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  15. What about lining with hanker chief linen for really hot and humid climates? I have not used it to line anything but I have used it for full slips and camisoles. Also, I might try Bemberg rayon for a summer suit or slim skirt. Great post but I have to laugh about the fabric diet! Is that because I cannot imagine following one or because I might need to follow such a diet?

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  16. Oooh, thanks for the great info! I've actually been wondering what to use. I didn't want to use quilting cotton as a lining... Siri sounds perfect!

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  17. I think silk is actually very breathable, but like everything, it's all personal preference! A good economical source for plain, un-dyed silk is Dharma Trading. I don't have much to compare them to but I've used two different weights of their crepe de chine and have a sample of their habotai and I like what I've used! Plus, if you want to match something you can always try your hand at dyeing it - they sell a gazillion dyes.

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  18. I'm bookmarking this. Great information here, thank you. My lined garments definitely get more wear and I'm ready to start adding linings to more things I make.

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  19. Is it acceptable to make a slip out of lining fabric to be utilized by several dresses instead of lining each dress? Or would that be tacky?

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    1. Not tacky at all! And a nice way to vary a sheer dress by having different colored slips to mix it up. The only thing to remember is that sometimes a lining provides stabilization and structure as well as opacity, so you may need to use stay tape on your dress waistline seam--or other key areas.

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  20. Hi! just came across you, gertie! somehow I landed on craftsy, which is so great _ I have taken sooo many classes and love them all, and saw you! Love your retro clothes, ordered your book, bought some pattersns at joann fabric store. though haven't sewn anything yet. but "hello" . I am enjoying following you. thanks for sharing.

    I sew and love cats!

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  21. Excellent tips AND a gorgeous book. Thanks for being awesome, Gertie!

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  22. I absolutely loved this post!!! Thank you, I will definitely be referencing back to this before i make my next dress. Could you give any advice on where to attach the lining to the fashion fabric for different style dresses? I always feel like i sew the 2 together in too many places...

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  23. Thank you so very much for this post... it's so on-topic for me that I'm not unconvinced that you haven't seen my web browser history for the past 3 weeks... I just finished a dress made of a lightweight, see-through, loosely woven linen and used a broadcloth in the bodice and a poly/cotton batiste from a GIGANTIC old thriftshop dress I bought for a buck to use as lining and muslin fabric, I was concerned about the different weights but it worked out so well - the bodice has structure it needs and the skirt just floats... And now I don't feel like I cheated because I couldn't figure out a single lining for both that would've worked!Also, I would love it if you addressed Lauren' s question two comments up - do I always have to sew the fashion fabric to the entire waistline in a simple fit and flare sleeveless dress that's fully lined? Or can I just tack it by hand to the side seams and maybe CD , and of course at the back zip?

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  24. You forgot about CUPRO!! :) Actually, I haven't heard about it before either but I saw a fabric store the other day that only carried lining fabrics, and they wanted to sell me the most beautiful lining, this cupro! :) If you know something about it I'd like to know more.
    /Agneta

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  25. Thanks for fielding my question about lining stretch cottons! I had assumed that the stretch poplins on Fabric.com would be too hefty, though I see now that one is labeled 'lightweight' and one 'very lightweight.' I suppose I can always order swatches and see!

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  26. I don't have a problem with poly/cotton breathing while I wear it, but it never washes clean for me. The sweat and sweat bacteria seem to get in the fabric and never come out and after about a year's wear the garment always smells a little funky. I don't have this problem with plain silks, cottons, wool, or linen so I think it has to do with the synthetic content.

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  27. I was just going through my stash realising I need good lining for all of my summer projects. Would you recommend the medium siri for a light to medium linen blend? I've also got a rather sheer tissue linen I'm going to have to underline, so I assume the lightweight siri would be best for that.

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  28. As usual you have broadened my horizons. I had never heard of "siri" or "imperial" cotton. I will definitely be on the lookout when I am in the market. Since you state siri is hard to find and that you have well there you go I'll get that from you.

    Thanks Gertie for you share with us. Oh, and you know I am loving the heck out of your book.

    Lyric
    http://www.SewAndCro.com

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  29. I live in teh Philippines where it is hot an humid all year round! "Good" fabrics aren't readily available here and you can't walk into a store and ask for cotton batiste or silk organza as they wouldn't have a clue what you are talking about. I just use whatever I stumble across when going around the fabric stores and markets. As long as there is a decent amount of cotton in it, its usually ok, but I do often end p paying more for the lining than I do for the main fabric! . I nearly always line or underline my dresses and skirts as I find that in the heat it helps your clothes wrinkle less and also absorbs perspiration better so wet patches (on your back and other places!) are less obvious!

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  30. I found a cotton voile that I ADORE! Its soooo ridiculously soft and fluid. Its sheer and perfect to be right up against the skin in summer garments. It was only 4.00 per yard!!!!

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  31. Quick question...for a t-shirt dress what type of lining do you recommend. I want one dress to hug the figure but without clinging and leaving those ugly ripples do to static cling, the other I would like it to hang beautifully. So I thought lining the dresses would allow for a very tailored fit. Please advise. Thank you

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  32. Good Morning,

    Love the blog! I am designing tshirt dresses, fitted and loose. Need advise as to what type of material to use as a lining. Please advise, while they are tshirt dresses I would like them to have a tailored look.
    Thank you.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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