Lining Technique – Making A Dart Into A Pleat

Whilst researching last week’s True Confession on linings, I stumbled across an interesting factoid. In a dress lining, it’s a good idea to make pleats in any place where the main shell has darts. This is because lining fabric has less give than fashion fabrics, and you need more room in your lining. I know, it’s totally counter-intuitive. What? The inner layer needs to be incrementally bigger than the outer layer? But, trust me. I’ve learnt the hard way that this is true!

Besides. Given the choice between making a dart and a pleat, I know which one I’d choose. So on my latest make, I decided to put this technique into practice – and share my experiences with you. This is the way I did it. Others may know better techniques. In which case, you know what to do… Leave a comment!

Okay. So I was working with back bodice pieces and midriff sections. The back bodice pieces should have had a dart putting into them. But on my cut out back bodice lining pieces, I was going to make a pleat. How?

First of all, I took my back bodice pattern piece and marked where the starts of the dart would normally be. Yes, it’s a nice green chalk pen, isn’t it?!

Then I folded a pleat right sides together, bringing the two green marks to line up. Not sure if the marks are lining up? Hold your fabric to the light – you’ll see the other mark showing through. I put a pin through the mark, and made sure it was lined up on the reverse also.

I then took a second pin and pinned the pleat to one side.

You can see both pinned sections below. Try to remember to make your pleats consistent on both pieces ie both pleats facing in or out. It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll be annoyed if they don’t mirror each other.

Baste these pleats in place. Then sew your sections together as you would do normally.

I pink my seams on a lining in this section of a dress. I don’t want overlocked edges to add any extra bulk around the bodice. Overlocking uses four different threads – threads that could add bulk. And these seams are all going to be encapsulated in the finished dress – no one will ever see them. But don’t be tempted to leave them untrimmed. As I said, you don’t want any bulk.

A final press (watch the temperature of your iron!) and there you have it – a nice pleat in your lining section, with just that little bit of extra give:

What do we think? Do we approve?

One last question, a propos of nothing – is Bob Dylan a genius or is he a genius? I can’t understand the haters. He can slice straight through to my heart with a single beautifully composed song and that rough dog of a voice. I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. Not even The Traveling Wilburys…

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41 Responses to Lining Technique – Making A Dart Into A Pleat

  1. Interesting idea. Do you think the same technique applies if the darts are down the side of the bodice? I’m thinking of New Look 6000 here When I made it I used the non-pleated pattern to make the lining but I always feel that the two layers don’t quite sit right together.

    Love the lining fabric btw. Where did it come from?

  2. It’s quite reasonable because the you need the movement without the extra bulk.. I’m save his for reference…

  3. punkmik says:

    this is great! thank you! I have also discovered this fact that the lining needs to be bigger the hard way recently and I am glad to have a technique to try out now! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Great minds think alike! I’ve just made a skirt and inserted the lining this way – it was a revelation and took no time at all. The lining feels great too, really roomy, even though it’s the same size as the skirt piece! x

  5. ruth says:

    great tip, love your green chalk marker!

  6. Nyssa Jayne says:

    loving the tute – about to start a new dress, so i’m going to try this out!

    re: bob – one of my friends said it perfectly when he said, “bob dylan either happens to you, or he doesn’t, there’s no inbetween.” i think he’s right, because i went along, la la la, not liking bob dylan and then BAM! lots of bob!

  7. I ma using this alway in a lining when I am making a skirt.

  8. Roobeedoo says:

    I’ve done this on a coat, but hadn’t thought of it for a skirt – I will remember!
    P.S. OK you’ve told us about your chalk pen… but what colour is your funky Barbie nail polish?! Love it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. nice tutorial. in the back piece of the anise coat i am working on, the lining piece is a fair bit bigger than the actual fabric piece as there is a pleat in the back to allow for more movement. so i suppose it makes sense altho it is totally counterintuitive!

  10. The dot pattern matching before the pleat is fantabulous! It’s pretty- trying to see if it’s acetate or a thin satin?
    And, of course I tootled off to see the chalk pencils… tempting, very tempting… ๐Ÿ™‚

    That free linings need to be bigger while fixed underlinings etc need to be smaller is a bit of a brain-twist, isn’t it?!

  11. MrsC says:

    Bob, Leonard, Janis, Joe – they are poets who perform the poetry to music. The beauty is in the soul that comes through in their performance. Genius indeed!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Pella says:

    Yes, Dylan’s songs are special. Lining has to be fractionally larger, I find its enough to convert darts to folds, tucks or pleats, as you demonstrate, and seam just outside the given stitching line, but some people like to leave a goodly amount of ease. Jacket linings need a small pleat in the back too. Its counter intuitive to make the lining bigger, but it does save that ripping sound when you sit down.

  13. Kerry says:

    Thanks for this, I had been aware that a lining should have a pleat instead of a dart and last time I was doing a lining I tried a pleat but it looked a bit silly to me. I hadn’t actually thought about WHY it should be a pleat so what you’ve said makes a lot of sense! Next time I will give a pleat another go.

  14. Sรธlvi says:

    Thanks for the tip, it really makes sense. Will remember for my next make. I have that chalk pen too, and I love it. Oh, and having been to I guess four Dylan concerts, I donยดt have to tell you I am a fan. Love his lyrics. He can sing too, he just doesnยดt want to. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. prttynpnk says:

    Gee, I actually liked the Wilbury’s …they just seemed to be having so much fun together. LIke a big garage band get-together….

  16. shivani says:

    great tip – thanks! I completely would have just sewn the dart, ripped the lining, and then wept.

  17. sophie o. says:

    Beautiful lining! This sounds like a useful technique, I too hate to make darts ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. colleen says:

    So pretty! I love that little pleat!
    I also love what someone above said about Bob. Bob happened to me and to my husband but we’re of that generation. The biggest thrill for me was watching Bob happen for our daughter, who was born in 1991. She decorated her dorm room with a painting she did of Bob — so proud!

  19. LinB says:

    The lining needs to be larger than the shell because the lining has to conform to a greater surface area than the shell: the lining has to accommodate all the hills and valleys of our body, while the shell floats just over the terrain. I forget which Wise Woman of Sewing explained the science of this, but it works in practice, so I don’t really care about the science. (Just as I do not have to understand all the physics of what makes my car run to be able to drive the car, I do not have to understand all the whys of sewing to be able to do the whats of sewing.) You can convert darts to pleats or gathers in any application: darts, pleats, and gathers are merely different ways to control fullness. One method may be better than another, in any given sewing project, for reasons of style or of practicality (think about how hard it would be to gather all the fabric required for a kilt, instead of using deep pleats.)

  20. lisa g says:

    the pleating is a great idea, something i’ve done in the past mostly out of laziness… ahem. now i can pleat those lining darts and not feel guilty about taking shortcuts! seriously love the polka dot lining too.

  21. I most always do this (are you not surprised?) and sometimes add some extra ease in the back across the shoulders. But seam finishes on the inside of the lining, no thank you. slice the extra off and be done with it ๐Ÿ™‚ ps your sneak peek looks lovely – great color.

  22. Loralee says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. The silky linings scare me a wee bit but I might just have the encouragement to take them on.

    Ah, yes, Bob Dylan. He’s an incredible songwriter. In high school, I listened to all the folk singers of his era when others were teasing the hair beyond the limits of nature and listening to the 80’s big hair bands. As his recent live performances (particularly the Grammy’s) sadly demonstrate, there comes a time when musicians should graciously take the last bow and appreciate all they’ve accomplished in life. And for Bob Dylan, there’s much to celebrate. His music will live on.

  23. I’ve been doing pleats in skirt linings, but I can’t remember if I was taught that way, or just found it easier! Bob is one of the greats, but the voice goes off with time. I was cringing over Elton and Paul as this years Jubilee and Olympics.

  24. I have learned the hard way of linings needing a little more wiggle room – particularly in skirts where a lot of stress is put on seams from sitting. Now that you mention it, I think I’ve noticed that on something (likely RTW) but never thought about it myself while sewing. Thanks for the reminder about the extra wiggle room that a pleat provides.
    And I don’t totally get Dylan. Not so much his song writing but his singing doesn’t resonate with me. However, I do enjoy a good cover. CBC radio 2 has a feature where they play a clip of an original song and then a cover of that song and they often do Dylan weeks because there are so many out there.

  25. symondezyn says:

    This is super interesting! I too have found out the hard way that the lining needs more room than the outer fabric. I’m really interested to see how you find it in the wearing; I’m making an Anise right now, with the addition of a bust dart and i’m curious as to how that would translate into a pleat. Do you think the dart has to be relatively small for this to work? My dart is HUGE hehe.

    Also, does your pattern call for a lining or is it a design feature you chose to add? I’m wondering if a pattern calls for a lining if they would account for the extra room needed in the pattern? I’m not experienced enough in linings to know these things ^__^

    The Traveling Wilburys always remind me of my dad – he’s passed away now, so whenever i hear them I get a little teary ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. megthegrand says:

    This is brilliant!! I had no idea that a pleat would be so much more effective in a lining – you’ve completed opened my eyes and I definitely owe you one ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Jenny says:

    Hi, sorry to seem daft. You say ‘baste these pleats in place’ what does that mean? I’m assuming nothing related to what I do to the Christmas bird. I thought it meant just any old hand stitching to hold in place for a short time, but then you don’t say to remove the hand stitching.
    Thanks. Jen.

  28. Amy says:

    I don’t know where I learned the pleat thing, but it’s what I do, too. I also pink, but I tend to only pink lining that might eventually get some wear and tear. I’ll have to take your tip about pinking the whole thing. It’ll reduce bulk and add to the lifetime. Brilliant.

  29. Carolyn says:

    Excellent advice! My mother taught me this one, years back ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. rehanon says:

    Ooh thanks for this honey. I’m about to attempt my first dress lining ever. Still trying to work out how I’ve managed to avoid lining in general for nye on the 19 months I’ve been sewing.

    Ah Bob what a legend. Both him and Joni have soothed the savage heart more times than I care to remember. Great music only gets greater.

    Can’t wait to see the make xxx

  31. Juliet says:

    To bring back the awful mantra of the teletubbies when they approved: Again Again! Again Again! This is very clever and I’ll do this in the future for sure!

  32. wcdesigns says:

    This is a great trick thanks for sharing. I would much rather have the extra give and I don’t like doing darts anyway ๐Ÿ˜€

  33. Great tip. And Bob Dylan is a genius – hands down. Haters deserve only our pity. It’s like people who find olives too salty. I’m sad for them. They’re missing out on a great flavour. Bob is the salty olive of the music world, an acquired taste you can’t imagine anyone not enjoying. As a singer I would happily sing only his songs for the rest of my life.

  34. ZoSews says:

    Very interesting. I knew about the centre back pleat in the lining of jackets, but this is new – both the pleating replacing darts and the pinking, I’m going to try it out on my upcoming Lonsdale/Gertie’s pencil skirt ๐Ÿ™‚

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