True Confessions – Lining Skirts

I thought it might be interesting to run a series of ‘True Confessions’. I offer up a secret, you laugh at me – or give me advice! – and then people can share their own True Crafting Confessions in the comments. Your confession can be related to any type of craft – sewing, knitting, crochet, quilting, you name it. I think we could all learn a lot. So, here goes. My first True Confession.

True Confession – I’ve never really known how to hem the lining of a skirt or dress. 

So far in my sewing career, I’ve usually (always) trimmed the lining a couple of inches shorter than the skirt hem, turned it up twice and sewn down a separate hem. I’m vaguely aware that other people don’t do this – they seal the lining hem inside the skirt hem. I don’t really know why I have avoided doing this, although I think laziness plays a large part.

Of course, some skirts or dresses would work best with a lining that is hemmed separately to the main body. Um, right? (I’m thinking of anything with fullness to it.)

Researching this blog post threw up some interesting and useful articles such as this one and this one.

What advice do you have to give me? And, possibly more interestingly, what is your contribution to this week’s True Confession? Come on, spill the beans! You’ll feel so much better for it…

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64 Responses to True Confessions – Lining Skirts

  1. Corinna says:

    I have to admit I’ve always avoided garments with linings and I’ve been quite successful with that for the last 8 years..so that’s my confession? So I can’t really offer any advice, but I’ll bookmark the pages you linked for the future

  2. Kathi Giumentaro says:

    I always hem my lining separately. I just finished a skirt yesterday. I was under the assumption that the skirt and lining were not attached. Maybe I am wrong. An under lining is sewn into the hem. Here is my confession. I never make the thread chain to attach the lining to the bottom of the skirt. NEVER.

  3. Sam says:

    I’ve always done my linings exactly as you describe doing yours. Mainly I think because that most – if not all – shop bought lined skirts I’ve had have had the lining hemmed separately. I thought that was the way you were supposed to do it.

  4. Confession: I haven’t ever contemplated lining skirts because I have no idea how to do it. It scares me. How about that?

    And I would have assumed you don’t attach the lining at the bottom. A spot check of my vintage skirts showed them all un-attached at the bottom, only 1 with thread chains at the side seam (confession 2: I’d never even heard of that until I read Kathi’s comment and checked), and one with it only attached at the back slit.

  5. edenZ says:

    I’ve attempted to attached the lining to the skirt hem once – it wasn’t hard to do, but is is hard to live with. If your lining shifts at all your hem looks very odd. Plus it’s a pain to iron. I don’t recommend it. If you really don’t want an unattached lining, I would recommend underlining the fashion fabric with lining fabric and doing lining fabric for hong kong seam finishes. All of the benefits of an attached lining and non of the downfalls. Plus it’s probably easier.
    I’ll confess that I also have never done the thread chain to attach linings to the skirt. Never seemed to be much of an issue for me.

    • LinB says:

      Yup. Hem them separately, because your lining should be at least a little bit larger than your fashion fabric (counterintuitive, but you can trust me on this one), and neither will hang straight if you hem them as one. I usually hem fashion fabric first, then cut lining same length as the hemmed skirt, and turn up raw edge 1/2 inch twice and topstitch it. I rarely bother with thread chains on a short skirt — if the lining is twisting that much, I’ll re-set the lining. On floor-length skirts, thread chains at every seam, near the hem, can be a godsend. Otherwise, your lining may twist around your legs one way, as the skirt twists around the other way. Makes for difficult walking/dancing. That’s for a regular lining, btw. If you are underlining (treating two layers of fabric as one, for purposes of increased drape or opacity) then by all means hem them as one, with whatever hem treatment you wish.

  6. joelle says:

    I never thought the thought of attaching the lining into the skirt hem. I always do like you do. But then, I’m no profesional at sewing. My lining confession: I always pick the polyester lining at the fabric store (in my defense, I don’t have much other choice) and then regret it later, first when sewing it, then when wearing it. Can I not learn?

  7. LLADYBIRD says:

    I am pretty sure you’re not supposed to attach the lining to the hem 🙂 I used to do that and it always made my skirts hang funny. The only time they should be sewn together is if the lining is being used as underlining – and in that case, it’s really not the same thing.

    My confession is that I always skip those little “extras” in the pattern that don’t necessarily invovle how the garment is worn – tacking the lining to the skirt via thread chain, making little ribbon loops to hang a strapless dress (whatevER, I just safety pin ribbons on the inside when I’m ready to hang it HAHA), bra strap snap holders, etc. Don’t have time for that nonsense!

  8. i think you’re doing your linings correctly. shouldn’t they can hang just like a slip would?
    my confession is that i avoid sewing anything that is fitted because i cannot fathom making alterations according to my measurements! you clever ladies make it look sooo easy 🙂

  9. MrsC says:

    My confession is that I never line skirts or dresses, I have a collection of half slips instead! Actually, to be really honest, I have only two dresses lined – maxis made from thin cotton silk, one of which I lined in voile at the time, the other I ended up succumbing over a year later as it was SO see through, I couldn’t wear it even with a slip! WAY too much information about my lumps and bumps! SO I sucked it up and put one in after the fact. So worth it, it’s my favourite ever dress 🙂 But for issues of cling rather than transparency, it’s slip slap all the way 🙂

  10. Yay! I am so delighted to hear this, readers. Now, if this isn’t a reason for confession, I don’t know what is: there is no reason to beat myself up, after all.

  11. Dea-chan says:

    I always forget that that’s an OPTION. I usually do what you do. But I bet that in a high quality garment, that’s the kind of detail that gives it the OOMPH.

    Also, I tend to be less accurate cutting linings, so having it unattached lets it be as finicky as it wants to be!

  12. Katy says:

    You’re doing it exactly how I line skirts. Luckily on my first lined skirt I found a Threads video on You Tube which also did it like this so I’ve never worried that I’ve been doing it wrong so you shouldn’t either! I’m with the others that I wouldn’t want to attach the lining to the skirt. You might have shrinkage of one of them that distorts the whole garment. Also I like to be able to iron my lining and skirt separately. I love Lauren’s idea about safety pinning ribbon to a dress to hang it – I’ll use this for my Lonsdale!

  13. symondezyn says:

    I’ve never made a skirt with a lining so you’re ahead of me there! ^_^

    My true confession is that I rarely ever press & turn a hem – I hate pressing so I just eyeball it! lol ^_^

  14. joyful says:

    I like to line skirts in a different and unexpected colour but have never attached the hem to skirt hem. Usually by this stage I have become impatient and want to finish asap so that I can wear the garment! don’t look too closely at my linings!!
    Question – if you line a dress do you still need to do neck and armhole facings??

  15. Jen (NY) says:

    It depends…but I often hem the skirt and then slip stitch the lining to the hem allowance. It’s important to leave some ease in the lining so that it essentially drapes back down over the slip stitches. (Does that make sense?) Anyway, the lining hem is kind of drapey, rather than being flatly attached to the skirt fabric.

    My confession is that I’m lousy at setting sleeves. So I almost always stitch the sleeve cap onto the flat arm scythe and then stitch the blouse side seam and sleeve side seam in one pass.
    ~Jen

    • Ah, yes – this is really useful, Jen. Thank you so much! That’s what I could never work out, the slight ‘bagging’ that you’d need for ease, if you were to stitch the lining into the hem allowance. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Jenn says:

    I attach my linings to the skirt, so I can avoid finishing the edges. I think if the lining is not attached, you’re supposed to finish all your edges (not sure why). I’ve only lined straight skirts or pencil skirts though, I don’t think this would work as well with an A-line or full skirt. I learned the method of attaching linings from Susan Khalje’s craftsy course.

  17. Another Lauren says:

    I made a cotton sundress recently, and lined it in voile so it would remain cool. I confess, I haven’t yet hemmed the lining, just pinked the edge…

  18. What you do is not wrong. However you may have to attach the lining if you’re making a skit with back vent. I wrote a tutorial last year http://bombardone.com/sewingprincess/2011/10/tutorial-how-to-sew-a-back-vent-and-lining-for-burda-skirt-116-20109-cucire-lo-spacco-con-sormonto/
    My confession? I still haven’t mastered a fitted sleeve design and buttonhole placement!

  19. Roobeedoo says:

    Lining the Kelly Skirt has been interesting. The first time, I sandwiched the lining into the bottom hem and ended up with a bubble skirt. It is a fun shape, but it wasn’t intentional!
    The second time I used the pattern, left it loose at the bottom edge, only attaching it to the main fabric at the front button bands and the waistband: much better!

  20. I don’t even turn my skirt hems. I just mark the length I want and then serge the excess off. I occasionally used the rolled hem settings on my serger, but more often than not I just use the four thread stitch that it’s already set for while I was sewing.

  21. Anne W says:

    I don’t sew my linings to the skirt hems (although they are attached at vent openings). They are made up seperately and only attached at the waist. I have used a chain, or narrow ribbon on occasion, but I’ve used that more on lined trousers, and loose lined coats.

  22. twotoast says:

    I line all my skirts . . . My summer, cotton ones are lined with a lightweight batiste or cotton lawn (so as to avoid the Lady Di see-through look) or with a nylon/polyester for my other skirts. I then add a row of lovely lace to the end for a touch of luxury – and if the lining shows when I sit down, it looks like a cute petticoat. I am moving towards using nicer linings, like charmeuse, some with a touch of lycra for extra comfort. Once you have a favorite lining technique – you will never go back!

  23. Sew Me Love says:

    My sewing confession: I avoid skirts that skim over my hips and butt becos I have fitting issues there – possible swayback and wierd booty – so I always replace those “fitted” skirts with full skirts so I don’t have to learn how to do the adjustments.

  24. Marie says:

    Lining skirts scares me too! In fact, the only one I’ever done I botched! I stupidly sewed the back (where the zipper went) of the skirt and lining together…meaning I then couldn’t hem to lining! D’oh!!! I’ve not attempted lining a skirt since :o(

  25. Molly says:

    I’m always worried if I hem the lining with the skirt it will get all bunched up or uneven… that is when I even remember to add a lining, usually I just forget until it’s too late.

  26. Liz says:

    I line most of my skirts and dresses, mostly for modesty as I seem to choose fabrics that are too sheer. I have never attached them to the hem as it makest the skirt hang funny if it is a full skirt, plus the ironing issue as previously mentioned. As far as hemming, I have a huge number that are just overlocked on the edges, that’s it! Lazy huh?

  27. Alexandra says:

    You can either attach the lining or leave it separately, both work well but if you slip stich your lining to your fashion fabric you need to leave some length ease. A sealed unit would be used in a couture dress if organza was used to underline the fashion fabric and the seam allowances catch stitched open, also there can be a lot of other under pinnings and loose stich work in a couture garment that needs to be completely sealed away hence attaching the lining to the fashion fabric. But no need at all if there are no under linings, just a bit of loose attachment needed around the vent.

  28. Alexandra says:

    I forgot to mention if you do seal your lining to your fashion fabric hem then you will have needed to catch stitch your seams allowances open as it is impossible to get the iron in after laundering. Obviously to catch stitch your seams open your garment will need to be underlined, hope this makes sense. X

  29. velosewer says:

    I line all of my skirts in the same way that you do. It’s a must when they’re for work or if it’s a casual corduroy skirt. They just hang nicer. And I’m a Sunsilky girl. I pay more for it but it’s a no brainer for me. I’ve had too many melting instances with cheaper linings.
    I’ve also started to use fine cotton to line summer dresses too. Maybe it’s an age thing…

  30. Juliet says:

    Oh, I do the same with my linings as well! Never occurred to me to do it in any other way!

    Ok, my confession: I have no idea how to tidily attach a zipper to lining. It always looks like a 5 year old did it.

  31. Nikki says:

    If I have to line a skirt, I do it the way you do. I’m a bit bemused about the hem marking malarky, I like my skirt length to be just below the knee or maxi , so I cut the pattern to that length plus 5/8′ for the hem. then I just iron up the hem. Not sure why I would need hem markers or someone else to measure from the floor?

    • I think the theory about measuring the hanging length when wearing said item is that once a dress or skirt is on your body, it’s not all going to hang at precisely the same length from your waistband because of our womanly lumps and bumps, maybe mismatched hips etc. That’s the theory, anyway!

      • This is very very true as I recently discovered about my own body. I always level circle skirts on the body as after hanging to let the bias drop the hem is no longer straight anyway. I recently had to re-level a full circle skirt as it had visibly dropped further, despite having hung it for ages, grr. MrsC levelled it for me as I wore it. Afterwards, I noticed that one side seam was about an inch shorter than the other. Freaked out, I tried the skirt on again, but nope, it looked fine. Curious, I checked out my other two circle skirts, levelled by different people at different times. On both of them, the same side seam was about an inch shorter than the other. Well, look at that! THAT I did NOT know about my body!

        Ever seen a woman blessed with a generous derriere whose RTW hem is noticeably shorter at the back then the front? Or a woman with a luscious Rubenesque tummy whose skirt is shorter at the front? These are people who need levelling on the body!!!

        Having said that, if you consistently find that skirts look fine hemmed from the pattern, then roll with it. My funky hips aren’t enough to make RTW skirts obviously crooked so for skirts that don’t require hanging for the bias to drop and that don’t have other things going on (like that one hypothetical time where my side seams didn’t meet at the bottom) I will hem straight off the pattern!

  32. Joanne says:

    Oh god – my confession is that I don’t know how to line dresses or skirts. I’ve underlined two dresses but that’s not the same thing at all, and I’m so scared of lining a dress or a skirt on my own without loads of instructions! It’s also one thing I can never seem to find the perfect tutorial (online or in a book) for so if anyone knows of one…..?

  33. Lining skirts, eh? No, never done it. A petticoat/slip was good enough for me with most of the skirts I’ve made. I might have to try. True confessions, though? Hm. The terrible, terrible waist on a skirt I made to wear to a wedding earlier this year. The elastic wasn’t cooperating so i stitched it on to within an inch of its life (mine too, I shouldn’t wonder) and then, when that didn’t work, sewed it some more! If ever I get around to fixing it, boy, it will take me days to unpick! 🙂

  34. colleen says:

    I do my hem the same way. If you seal the lining inside the hem, don’t you run the risk of a little poof? I mean you’d have to be really sure that the lining is absolutely conforming to the way of the skirt. I like my lining to run free and just do what it wants to do!

    • colleen says:

      However….my true confession is that I don’t always do what the pattern tells me to do in terms of using twill tape or using fusible web. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it.

  35. Renae says:

    My true confession has nothing to do with lining, but with fitting I guess. I read pattern reviews / blog posts that say “I cut xyz size in the neck and shoulders and xyz size for the rest”. Visually, I just don’t get it… Are they making the shoulder line bigger or are the making the armhole curve longer?

  36. I hate that material they sell for lining… I try, but just can’t make friends with it! It’s just soooo synthetic and makes a funny clicky sound when I sew it! I use it when I have to, but would prefer to find something else.

    This post actually got me questioning why we line skirts! I often do it, mainly because you’re “supposed to”, and it will make it hang quite smoothly, but I wonder if using fabric conditioner in the wash these days is why unlined skirts don’t seem to cause that many clinging issues? Most of us no longer think about wearing petticoats/slips, probably for the same reason? I’m not actually sure I see a difference in my lined/unlined skirts when they’re on…

    My true confession is no matter how many times I try to make trousers, or how hard I try not to do it, I will invariably sew the inside leg seams of the right leg to the inside leg seams of the left. Weird pointy-crotch skirt, anyone?!!

  37. Ruth says:

    My confession is that I line EVERYTHING. Well not quite, l don’t do T-shirts, though I have lined cotton tops! Trousers, skirts, dresses, jackets – the lot, get a lining. Saves me wearing a slip and nothing clings. Am I the odd one?

  38. grenouille78 says:

    I’ve only ever lined a skirt once, but I did it like you, Karen. Works for me!

    How about a non-sewing confession to change things up a bit: Even though I have been crocheting for years, I’m pretty sure that I have never done the starting loop properly. I have my own method and it seems to work, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not “textbook.” Also, I can’t make a slipknot to save my life. Would not have made a good candidate for the Boy Scouts. Aside from the fact that I’m a girl (do they tie knots in Girl Scouts?).

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  41. Sarah! says:

    which way should a skirt lining be hemmed? do you fold it up toward your legs, or fold it up toward the outside layer? I can never decide; either way I do it it ends up with the “wrong” side visible occasionally! (generally while biking so who cares, but y’know!)

  42. I use my overlock machine and adjust it to a rolled hem, after carefully marking the lining first.
    It`s so easy, just sailing away……..

  43. My confession is that I hardly ever line skirts. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever lined a skirt. And if I’m making a dress, I line the bodice – but not the skirt. I slip stitch the bodice lining to the waist seam. Oops.

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  45. Caitlin says:

    I happened upon this post at the right time! I just bought some fabric a navy patterned cotton poplin and a beautiful bright orange cotton lawn to line it. I’m actually intending to make the hems the same length not one slightly shorter so that the lining will peek through as it’s so pretty. I’m lining it to add more bulk to the gathers, as I want a full skirt. I’ve got a couple of other projects on the go that I wasn’t planning to iron but now I’m thinking I really should. I was just going to use facings.

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