Sew, What's New?

Curating sewing and quilting talent, techniques, and tutorials, since 1997.

Many patterns feature jackets that don't have linings. But if you are used to wearing one with a lining, you will know the advantages. A lining covers up all the unsightly seams inside and eliminates the need to finish those seams. A lining helps the jacket keep its shape better. It provides more warmth if you need it. And, one of the nicest things, the lining makes the jacket slip on and off with ease over any item of clothing.


Adding a lining to a pattern that doesn't have one is an easy job. Basically you are reproducing the jacket but leaving off the facings and construction details such as pockets. What is important to remember is that the lining should be a little bit bigger than the jacket it is sewn to. The reason for this is that the lining must give when you move, and since lining fabric has no ease, it will rip out if it is the same size or smaller than the jacket. It may also pull and cause unsightly puckers on the outside of the jacket.

Finish your jacket as indicated in the pattern. If the pattern doesn't have a back neck facing, I add one to it as I prefer to sew the lining to a complete facing. To make a back neck facing, trace off the back neck as shown in the diagram, exactly the same size as the back piece, and making the facing approximately 2 ½ to 3" deep.

Now, to cut out the lining: take the back pattern piece and check to see if it is placed on the fold of the fabric or if there is a center back seam. It there is a center back seam, place the cutting edge of the back on the fold of your lining. Don't ask why, just do it. If the piece is placed on the fold, then place the piece 5/8" away from the fold. When you sew the lining, the first thing you will do is stitch down the top 3" of the center back piece, at a distance of 5/8" from the fold. See the diagram. What this does is give you a pleat in the center back of the lining that makes the lining 1 ¼" bigger than the jacket back. This gives the lining room to expand when you move your arms and ensures that the lining will not rip out at the sleeve seams.

For your jacket, you will be cutting out three pieces: the front, back, and sleeve. But you need to remove the facing area from the lining since your facings are made out of the jacket fabric. But there is something important to remember here: you need to allow for two seam allowances extra. See the diagram below. When you join the facing to the lining, you need one seam allowance for the facing and one for the lining. Since you are not adding an extra seam allowance to the facing, you need to add two to the lining. Sometimes it is hard to visualize this. So I suggest, place the facing and the lining next to each other as they will be sewn. Now fold under 5/8" on the bottom of the facing. Now fold under 5/8" on the neck edge of the lining. You will now see that there is a gap of 1 ¼" or two seam allowances between the two.

So, this is the way to cut your lining pieces:
1. Place the front facing on the front jacket pattern piece and trace the edge of the facing. Now add 1 ¼" beyond that line towards the center front. 
2. Place the back neck facing on the back lining pattern piece. Trace the edge of the facing onto the tissue. And add 1 ¼" beyond that line towards the neck. 
3. Cut the sleeve lining exactly the same as the jacket sleeves.

Don't worry about hems on the lining. It is easiest to cut off the extra when the lining is inserted into the jacket. Doing it later ensures that your lining won't be too short or too long.

Now the order of sewing: 
1. Sew the top 3" pleat on the back lining piece as detailed before. 
2. Sew the shoulder seams of the front and back linings. 
3. Sew the sleeve underarm seam, the jacket side seams, and insert sleeves into the jacket lining just as you did the jacket. Since lining is not visible, it doesn't matter if your sleeve linings have puckers in the sleeve caps. In fact, you can fold out the excess as a pleat at the top of the sleeve lining, if you prefer.

4. Press all seam allowances. I don't trim them, since lining tends to fray. I do trim the armhole seam though and stitch around it twice to prevent fraying. 
5. Now open out the jacket facings as shown. Pin the lining to the facings, right sides together, matching seams. Stitch the seam at 5/8", but stop stitching about 2 ½" away from the bottom of the jacket facings.

6. Insert the shoulder pads into the jacket between the jacket and the lining. Flip the lining over to the inside of the jacket and push the sleeve linings down into the sleeves. Take care here that the sleeve lining does not get twisted.

This completes the machine sewing of the lining. The rest of the sewing can be done by hand. This is the method I prefer. Some people do sew the lining in entirely by machine; this is a technique called bagging, but I find that it is very quick to attach the bottom of the lining to the jacket hem by hand and this prevents the jacket from getting too wrinkled with all the turning involved in bagging.

Now lay the jacket out flat on a table. Smooth the lining down into place and pin through the side seams to line everything up. Your lining will extend beyond the jacket by exactly the hem allowance of the jacket. Cut off this extra even with the bottom of the jacket. Take special care not to cut the jacket when you do this. This makes the lining shorter than the jacket and ensures that it will never droop below your jacket when you wear it.

Now turn under ½" on the bottom of the lining and pin the fold to the top of the hem of the jacket, just covering your hand stitches. If you have more lining than jacket, fold the extra into a little pleat at the center back. I don't know why, but this extra ease in the back lining seems to be eaten up by the time you sew the two together. I never have much there extra.

Sewing the lining to the top of the hem makes a little bubble in the lining. This is called a "jump hem" and gives the lining room to move around inside the jacket. This extra ease in the lining is absolutely necessary because lining fabric has no give and will rip if strained. Slip stitch the fold of the lining to the hem of the jacket. Where the lining meets the facing, you will have a small area that is not stitched. Neaten this up by bringing the lining down at the bottom of the facing. Then the lining will angle up slightly to be stitched to the hem. See the diagram.

Now, for the sleeves. Bring the lining down inside the sleeves, being sure that it is not twisted. The best way to do this is to put the jacket on and smooth out the lining. It will extend beyond the sleeves by the depth of the sleeve hem allowance. Cut off the extra as you did for the bottom of the jacket, fold under ½" on the lining and slip stitch it to the top of the sleeve hem. Again, you will have a little "jump hem" or "ease pleat" that forms when the lining drops into place. The lining will now have extra length than the sleeve, but it will not hang below because it has been attached higher up.

Now one more thing: you need to tack the lining to the jacket in a few spots so that it doesn't pull out when you take the jacket off. One of these places is just underneath the armhole. I stitch through the lining side seam and catch the jacket side seam allowance with a few stitches back and forth. Take care not to let your stitches go through to the right side. You can also do this on the inside of the sleeve by pulling the sleeve inside out and tacking the sleeve lining to the jacket underarm seam allowances about half way down the sleeve. Personally, I don't do this as I find it sufficient just to tack them on the jacket proper.

Now give your jacket a final press and it's ready to wear. Have fun with linings and experiment with prints or bright colours inside your solid jackets. Why not line a navy jacket with red? Or a black jacket with a wonderful batik-type print? For those of us who are conventional dressers, sometimes the only flash we are willing to show is on the inside! Just be sure that your lining is pre-shrunk and can be dry-cleaned along with your jacket.

Someone will ask, can you wash your jacket? Technically, yes, if all your fabrics have been pre-washed. But I prefer to dry-clean jackets, even ones that are washable, simply because it is very hard to keep the shape of all that structure you worked so hard to put in. Jackets don't have to be cleaned very often and once or twice a year will maintain the life of your jacket without destroying your pocket book.

Julie Culshaw  2012

Views: 978


You need to be a member of Sew, What's New? to add comments!

Join Sew, What's New?

© 2022   Created by Sara.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service