Cutting Out Lining Fabric

lining depth

Some of the best sewing lessons are learnt by experience. Even better sewing lessons are learnt when someone shares the benefit of their experience. So here’s a tip for cutting out lining fabric. I didn’t learn it from a book, video or tutorial. I learnt it the hard way and by then applying those hard won lessons.

Lining fabric tends to be tightly woven, which means it has very little give. This can spell disaster for sewing fully lined items. More than once, I’ve brought the raw edges of a bodice lining to hand stitch to the zip – only to discover that my lining is too narrow or too short or …. wahhhh! It doesn’t fit the main shell of the dress.

How can that be? Because your fashion fabric might have a loose weave or fluid drape that affects cutting out or relaxes with handling. Whereas your lining fabric doesn’t. Two pieces of fabric, cut out to the exact same dimensions. And now they don’t match.

fashion fabric depth

My answer? Now, I always cut my lining fabric incrementally larger than my fashion fabric pieces. See the bodice lining in the first photo? A depth of 17 inches. Now let’s look at the depth of the fashion fabric bodice piece. 16 and 3/4 inches… Not a lot of difference, but enough to mark a line in the sand between success and failure.

If these tweaks mean that ultimately your lining shell does end up being a little too big for the main shell of your make, fear not. Add tiny tucks. You can see one below at the front neckline of my Sew Over It Joan Dress. Believe me, your body will always be grateful for the extra give and it really doesn’t spoil the line of your make, as long as there isn’t a significant disparity in size.

tuck in lining fabric

I hope this helps somewhat. I hope it helps rescue potentially ruined makes. I hope you never have to go through what I’ve gone through in the past!

Sewing. Sometimes it’s there to test your backbone. And sometimes there’ll be a blog post that arrives at just the right time…

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22 Responses to Cutting Out Lining Fabric

  1. megan says:

    Many years ago I worked with a lovely girl, Anna. I was making a dress fully lined for a wedding I was attending. She had a background in sewing and said always cut your lining bigger. I did and it worked beautifully now I know why!

  2. Kathy Lynch says:

    I have decided you’re definitely one of life’s clever cookies, Karen. What a simple & sensible solution to a reeeeeally annoying problem! Thank you! 🙂

  3. Sandra says:

    I always cut my lining on the bias to avoid any problems.

  4. esewing says:

    This is a great tip , it can be so defeating to spend a long time lining something to find that instead of enhancing the garment it spoils the finish or worse you give up and fold it into a ‘later’ pile !

  5. Margaret Beard says:

    Great tip to remember!

  6. Peta Louise says:

    What a great tip, thanks Karen!

  7. Ann says:

    Great tip. Thanks!

  8. jay says:

    Yes, back in the day we were taught this. For the same reason a pleat goes in the back of a jacket lining, and the bottom hem of the jacket lining forms a pleat above the jacket hemline. A rule of thumb is to stitch each seam fractionally in the seam allowance.

  9. Emily says:

    Oh, this makes so much sense! I’ve sew a number of lined skirts that seemed to fit well at first and get mysteriously smaller when I added the lining. Thanks for the tip!

  10. Mags says:

    Definitely. The tuck is used in jackets all the time. I often sew with fabric with a slight stretch, and a tight lining takes away all the comfort.

  11. Lynsey says:

    Thanks for the tip, this makes total sense, I made a dress not long ago and the lining made the zip distort as had made the lining stretch to far, I will definitely use this in future makes

  12. Birgit says:

    That’s a great tip, thank you!

  13. Thanks for the tip! Now I know why the fully lined dress I made last week didn’t fit me right… I’ll keep this tip in mind next time I’m cutting the lining.

  14. I made a pencil skirt in wool. The lining split at the side seam after I wore it a few times. Now I know why! It wasn’t all down to cake 🙂

  15. PsychicKathleen says:

    I haven’t made anything yet with a lining but that’s coming and I REALLY appreciate your advice here and I’ll remember it for sure. Sandra’s idea of cutting it on the bias is also helpful!

  16. Just clocked that one for future winter makes. Thanks Karen. Jo x

  17. Very useful tip. I always think it’s a shame that you can’t get lining fabric with a bit of stretch in it (or maybe you can but I’ve just not found it?). It would be useful to use with something like a stretch cotton sateen

  18. Shelley says:

    I love that red floral fabric, what is it and where can I find some?

  19. Nicola Duviau says:

    Genius! I have not had this problem yet but ‘yet’ is the operative word here. I have always known the difference in fabric weave could create a problem for me when lining. Yours is a much more effective strategy than my ‘she’ll be right’ (the iconic Australian response) approach. Thanks Karen.

  20. JamieLMac says:

    I have the biggest hatred for linings. I wonder if this might solve my issues. I’ll keep this in mind for my next bout.

  21. Sheree says:

    I have no idea if I was taught to do this or not. I always cut the lining the same size, but sew a narrower seam than the garment.

  22. Alessa says:

    Great tip! I also learned that the hard way…

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