Tuesday, October 8, 2013

U is for Underlining

The ABC's of vintage sewing series is back--and we are in the home stretch, picking up the alphabet again with the letter 'U'.

Underlining is a common vintage (and modern) sewing technique in which two pieces of fabric are sewn together and treated as one.  This is often done for several reasons:

1. Stabilising loosely woven fabrics:

Using underlining for stabilising fabrics was a revelation to me!  I am often drawn to wonderful silky tweeds or handwoven fabrics--many of which are delicate or tend to unravel easily.  Once I learned I could underline these fabrics, my sewing world changed!  I could now use these fabrics even in very tailored garments such as the 'Kitten Dress' which used Butterick pattern 2181 from the 1950s.

2. Add bulk/warmth to fabrics:

I often think of interlining being used more for adding warmth, but you can also use underlining.  I tend to like to use underlining on thin fabrics like the poly-blend fabric I used for my 'Paddington Goes to Scotland Dress' from the 1960s.  This pattern actually recommended underlining and I'm glad I did it, not just for warmth and adding bulk but also to have a nicer feeling fabric against my skin!

3. Prevent garments from being see-through:

I use underlining a lot when sewing with white--to prevent the final garment from being too see-through.  In these instances, I usually just underline the bodice like I did in my 'Hawk's Eye View Dress' which I made with a Japanese textured cotton fabric for the bodice.

Underlining Resources:

Have you underlined any projects recently?  What's the main reason you underline your garments?


  1. Fully agree! I underline the fabrics - specially these loos wove. I find garment easier to sew when underlined. I see all marking on it eaiser.

    I am using either silk organza or cotton batist - it depends on the gabric I use..
    Which fabric do you use as underlining?

  2. i just did underlining on a wool/linen dress... backwards... i knew i had to, but of course i cut everything out and tried to fit it and then had to go back and underline. :))

  3. I like to underline, too-- I often pick fabrics that are either too sheer or too floppy to be used on their own, so I end up underlining them for a little more opacity and stability.

  4. Underlining is not something I do a lot. I'm not really drawn to see-through fabrics nor do get cold quickly (indoors, that is).
    I did underline last year's redingote with another wool fabric, both for warmth and bulk. And then, I still used horsehair interfacing throughout the bodice, for stability.
    There is a big piece of thick, densely woven, cotton flannel in my stash which is supposed to be a traditional underlining/interlining material for coats. I may use that to make a warm winter coat from some thin wool coating this winter.

  5. I first used this technique when I made my lace Laurel as it was a bit see through. Thanks for the resources.

  6. I am not much into sewing - YET, but I guess soon a whole lot of people will be sewing.

  7. I recently tried this technique for the first time when sewing a silk skirt. I found a remnant of this incredible New York City-scape line drawing fabric that was just enough (it squeaked by). Now my fabric isn't see-through nor so cold! I will have to go back and check out more of your alphabet to see what other techniques I could know better :)


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...