The lining is not for the fainthearted in sewing. But once you line a garment you are sold for life. The change in the look and drape of the clothing makes you a convert. Jackets, trousers, skirts, coats, dresses – you may want to line all that you sew.
Related post – Learn more about lining and its importance in the post “What is lining in sewing?“.
So How to choose the best lining fabric for your clothes and what to choose?
The 3 factors that determine the fabric you choose for lining are as follows
Colour of the outer fabric – Usually you need a fabric that matches the colour exactly to that of the outer fabric otherwise the colour of the whole garment may be distorted. If that is impossible choose a dark colour (lighter colour will stand out). Sometimes a contrast colour is selected for a special effect.
When going shopping for the lining fabric take the outer fabric with you and compare both the fabrics in good sunlight or under white lighting.
Purpose of the clothing – This is important as one person may want a warm fabric for insulation and warmth during winter but another may need a thin breathable fabric during summer. Some look out for colourful or printed fabric that will add an interest to the inside of the garment, some want to add structure to the garment and may be looking for a thicker fabric. You will need a durable easy maintenance fabric for lining clothes that you will wear often, but for occasion only clothes (which you mean to dry clean and then store) you can choose a similar high maintenance lining material.
Do not choose a slippery fabric for lining clothes fitted with boning, or if strapless. You do not want the fabric to slip down.
Compatibility with the outer fabric – This is the most important. The lining fabric should be of the same weight or slightly of lesser weight than the outer fabric. Choose a firmly woven fabric. The care of the outer fabric and lining should be the same. Check the wash care label to be sure
The lining is expected to be lightweight thin and slippery so that you have no difficulty putting on and take off the garment.
Rayon has thin fibers and because of this the fabric is very much suited to make a lining. It is breathable and soft, pliable and lightweight. It would not stick to your body even in hot sweaty weather.
100% viscose and 100% Cupro lining materials are also much in demand for lining as they are soft anti-static and lightweight.
Bemberg rayon is a popular branded rayon fabric (Cupro) used to line dresses suits and coats. It is breathable, soft, antistatic anti-clinging super comfortable and overall a superstar lining material. Viscose Ermazine Taffeta is a popular lining material used by bespoke tailors for suit jackets. Ermazine is somewhat sheer.
Anti-static Rayon twill fabric is very good as lining if you need a more weighty fabric. These are to be hand washed. Machine wash may damage the fibers. Rayon crepe back satin is a good choice
This is the most popular fabric for making linings – and the most comfortable against your skin. Cotton is made from natural fibers so it is breathable and extremely comfortable against the skin as it wicks moisture well. Thin lining cotton material does not add extra bulk to the whole garment. This is extremely important for fitting dresses and trousers. Cotton lining is the best choice when sewing for kids or when lining summer clothes.
One problem some might see against using cotton as a lining material is that it does not glide smoothly like some other fabric, which is a criteria many look for when selecting lining fabric, especially for highend jackets and coats. If you want that soft and silky feeling for the inside of the garment cotton is not for you – it may be rougher than the other lining materials mentioned here, especially the cheaper ones. Cotton simply does not look luxurious or expensive.
Another problem with a cotton lining is that it wrinkles a lot. Also if you do not preshrunk cotton fabric it will shrink after the first wash and thus may distort the garment as it will shrink differently from lining.
Cotton Poplin is frequently used as a thin soft lining material. Voile and Lawn are used to line fine dresses. Cotton batiste, muslin, percale are other favorites. If you want a lining that should wear well, choose a plain or twill weave cotton fabric. Cotton plaid is usually preferred inside suits.
Silk is synonymous with luxury and when you want that extra bit for a once-in-a-life-time dress you may want to use silk against your skin. It is breathable and extremely soft. Be prepared to part with a lot of money, as silk is very expensive so when added to the cost of fashion fabric used for the outside, the outfit turns out to be very expensive.
China silk is a comparatively inexpensive lightweight silk used as lining. In an shop the sales girl would first offer this as a lining material. It has a nice drape and great under lightweight fabrics.
Silk taffeta is a crisp thin fabric and holds its shape inside the garment. This is a favourite lining material for lightweight /medium weight fabrics especially for dresses and skirts which need some shape/volume without bulk.
Habutai lining fabric/Silk Satin is used to line wedding dresses. Dupioni silk is a thicker silk that can add some body to your garment. Silk Charmeuse & Silk Crepe De Chine are lightweight soft silk used for lining. They are also great for lining. Silk crepe back satin is more weighty (twice the weight of crepe de chine or charmeuse) and just as good for your purpose for suits, jackets, coats.
Silk organza is another favourite thin lining fabric.
Polyester or polyester blends
In all ready to wear clothes polyester lining is the most often used lining material- because it is inexpensive. Fast fashion needs inexpensive. Period. But there is another big reason why I would use synthetic materials like polyester – the wrinkling of natural fabrics. I dislike the wrinkly lining look inside and it is a pain to iron the whole lining.
It is a shiny synthetic fabric that is very easy to care for. It is cheap and may look cheap. Another disadvantage is that it is not breathable and does not absorb sweat so may make you uncomfortable if you wear it long.
Polyester sheath lining is a smooth, lightweight woven polyester that is good for lining pants, skirts etc. It is very soft and no wrinkles. Poly china silk is a cheap alternative to the expensive silk lining. It is soft, silky drapey and lightweight.
Satin made of polyester fibers is often used because of the soft feel. Satin usually has a smooth surface on the face and a matt surface on the back. Satin is available in many weights and many price range so it is a favourite as a lining fabric for inexpensive evening wear and costumes. Polycotton is another favourite with more weight – it is a blend of 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester fibers and is great as a curtain liner. Polyester taffeta is your lining fabric if you want a crisp tightly woven lining. Polyester organza is good as a sheer lining for lace fabrics.
Acetate is the best lining material for occasion wear clothes (those which do not see much wear – or use and throw clothes). This is a shiny synthetic fabric which is quite inexpensive. Most of the ready to wear jackets and coats use acetate lining. The advantages of acetate lining fabric over polyester fabric are many – for one, it is more breathable and more comfortable to wear. It is static free and also thicker than polyester.
It is dry clean only and not as durable as polyester. It also frays a lot so you may not want this for your tight fitting clothes.
When you are sewing a knit garment or one made with another stretchy fabric you need a stretchy lining too. The stretch lining fabric may be woven or knit.
Stretch woven lining material will have lycra added to it. Knit lining has more stretch than woven lining. Lighter the fabric more the stretch, so choose accordingly. Choose a lining that has similar properties as that of your outer fabric.
Tricot knit lining is used as lining under activewear clothes. Mesh knits are also used as it can wick perspiration from the body. You can also use lightweight rayon knits as lining fabric.
Thick Insulating lining fabrics
For coats and jackets you may need a thicker fabric for added warmth. Fleece, fake fur, wool blend fabrics are used for this purpose. Fleece is the most preferred as it is easy to maintain. Cotton canvas is also used.
Interlining fabric choices
Wool, polyester wadding, wool-acrylic blend fabrics, fluffy cotton fabrics are all used as interlining as a fluffy layer inserted between the outer fabric and lining.
So finally among these lining fabric choices what would I prefer to line my dresses with – If it is a couture garment may be a china silk or silk habotai. Simple dresses can have cotton linings. Bemberg rayon lining is best for suits; Even Armani uses them. For outerwear you need a waterproof layer – you can get acetate lining which is weatherproof. Inside winter coats fleece, fake fur, Flannel-backed lining or quilted lining are good choices.