What is Lining in Sewing? An overview

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens”. Carl Jung obviously did not refer to the dress I have sewn when he said this. But for me there is a close reference to my sewing – On the outside, the dress may look like a dream. A rude shock awaits those who look inside – all loose threads, uneven seams and wavy edges and every mistake that I wish did not happen.

Lining is the answer to this very obvious sewing dilemma. Lining also gives you warmth. It is also good to keep the outer fabric intact as you get in and out of the clothing.

But lining, underlining, interlining – sewing terms sometimes baffle. What would you choose?

Are they worth the extra time and effort?

different colored and printed lining inside a jacket


A lining is a separate but attached fabric used inside a garment to create an inner garment for protection, strength, durability, opaqueness or/and decoration. Other than clothes, linings are used inside upholstery, curtains or bags.

Clothes may be fully lined, half lined or partially lined. Jackets are mostly fully lined or half lined. Pants are usually lined from waist to knees. Dresses are lined fully or at the skirt portion.

Read more on jacket linings here.

A proper lining will serve many functions – it will give support and shape to the outer fabric, it will make the outer fabric crease less, prevent sagging and stretching of the outer fabric and thus reduces the strain on the outer fabric , making your clothes last longer.

The lining gives the garment opaqueness and eliminates the need for other inner garments like petticoats, slips, etc. Keeps the probably rough outer fabric from rubbing against your skin and makes you comfortable. It provides warmth and coziness and adds to the comfort of wearing the garment, like in the case of the silky linings inside coats and jackets. It may even enhance the color and look of the outer fabric.

taffeta lining inside frocks

And most importantly hides the underbelly of your garment – inside raw edges, seams and darts etc

The lining is sewn separately along with the outer garment and then joined together with hand-sewn stitches or machine stitches along the neckline and /or armhole or side seams and along the zipper/opening.


I used to use the terms lining and underlining interchangeably but now I know that underlining is slightly different from lining – both lie inside the garment and serve all the functions that I described earlier but the way they are constructed makes them different.

The wrong side of a lining faces the wrong side of the garment and effectively hides the seam stitching , fabric edges of the outer garment even from the inside view- where as in underlining the outer fabric and lining fabric is treated as one – the underlining does not hide the seam stitching etc.

satin lining under see through fabric

You will have to use fabric finishing techniques to finish the edges of the fabric inside your garment. The main purpose of underlining is to give strength and support or opaqueness to loosely woven, or sheer, semi-transparent fabrics. Underlining is also called backing

Flat lining

Flat lining is a term used for a different technique of underlining a pattern piece – here the pattern pieces are stitched to the lining pieces individually right sides together and then reversed to the right side – Now the outer piece and the lining piece are treated as one.


This is a separate layer inside a garment made with a soft, fluffy fabric and comes between outer garment and the lining. An interlining is given for extra warmth and padding.Interlining pattern pieces are attached to the lining pieces before they are assembled and stitched so you can say it acts as a backing to the lining material. 

Sewing lining is a separate subject in itself. Before even cutting the fabric, prepare your lining fabric for future shrinkage, etc., by machine washing in cold water. You can dry it in a cool dryer. This, of course, depends on your fabric type. You may also choose to hand-wash your lining and lay it flat to dry. Remember to iron out all the wrinkles as you would do with the main fabric.

Related post : The best fabrics for lining.; What is interlining – best fabrics for interlining; What is underlining


Updated on March 3, 2023 by Sarina Tariq


Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

7 thoughts on “What is Lining in Sewing? An overview”

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