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All About Fabric Layers and Linings

Fabric Layers

There are many layers to garments, the layers underneath the main top fabric that we see are:

  • the lining
  • the underlining
  • the interfacing
  • the interlining

Although not used on every item of clothing that we may wear, these are very useful for constructing some garments and craft projects, here is some more information on these fabric layers.


Linings are usually separate layers of silky type fabrics that are sewn into a garment, such as a coat, to hide internal seams and dart, and also to make the garment feel more comfortable to the wearer. When using linings it is best to ensure the fabric you use is as washable as the outer fabric. I have washed 'washable' coats before to find out that the lining shrinks where the outside didn't pulling the coat out of shape.


Underlinings are used in many ways. They can hide internal work from a flimsy sheer outer fabric or add strength and weight to light fabrics. Lacy tops will usually have a soft satin type underlining. Sometimes the underlining is attached to the top fabric before the garment is constructed but can also be stitched in place after all work is complete.


Interfacing provides stiffness and support to fabrics. This is very useful in making things like bags and stiffening shirt collars. Button h*** areas sometimes need extra strength and knitted garments can stretch out of shape so extra fabric support can be useful here also. They come in light, medium and heavy weights to suit the weight of the main fabric that needs to be supported.

There are two types of this support fabric:

  • Iron-on Interfacing - This is ironed directly onto the fabric. It is best to choose an iron on interfacing that is of lesser weight than your main fabric so any marks or creases in the interfacing will not show through. To use follow these steps:

  1. Check the interfacing on a small scrap of your fabric to be sure the adhesive will not show through.
  2. Cut the interfacing to the desired shape and set down the adhesive side on the wron side of your fabric.
  3. Begin pressing by placing the iron onto the fabrics and leaving a few seconds - don't slide it! Allow to cool, double check it is all stuck - press again on any areas that are loose.
  4. Trim the fabric and interfacing together.

  • Sew-in Interfacing - this is sewn into the fabric. This is more commonly used in lightweight fabrics where the iron-on glue may show through.

  1. To stitch interfacings directly to the outer fabric pin and tack the interfacing to the fabric
  2. Stitch, hand or machine the interfacing and fabric together - trim the seam allowance on the interfacing as close as you can.
  3. Heavy weight interfacings need to have the seam allowance cut away then attached by hand using herringbone stitch.


Interlining is a seperate layer of fabric that is inserted between the outer fabric and any linings. It can be used to add warmth and padding or to strengthen a fabric, and usually only on the main trunk of a garment rather than the sleeves.

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Comment by Elizabeth Quinn on October 7, 2010 at 10:31am
great information

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