Choose Your Lining Well

I am writing this post from my powerless home in Long Island, New York. (I finally got a flight back from International Quilt Market in Houston.) All I can say is: Thank goodness for smart phones!

This bodice is made from a stiff cotton and needs a lining with body.
I chose a medium-weight cotton muslin lining for comfort, body, and breathability.

I was scratching my head trying to figure out what I could write about sewing in a home without electricity when I remembered that I have a darling casual cotton dress in the works.

The dress is a halter-style bodice with a gathered skirt. The pattern calls for a lining. When I first started sewing again, I did exactly what the pattern directed and would dutifully head to the lining section of the fabric store. It was filled with polyesters, which certainly have their place, but not for a cotton dress.

After a while, I started to think more sensibly about garments, particularly linings. I started following my instincts, not the instructions. Here is my best lining wisdom:

Be comfy: The lining goes next to your skin. You want it to be soft and comfortable. I prefer natural fibers: silks, cottons and rayons.

Let it breathe: The lining is a protective barrier for the garment, but it's also an added layer for your skin. Again, natural fibers breathe, wicking perspiration, and heating or cooling your body as needed.

Watch what you wear: You also want your lining to match the drape of your fashion fabric. I like to pair lightweight China silk with silk or silk-like garments. Rayon bemberg is a good, affordable, all-purpose favorite, often favored by high-end-designers. If you can't find silk or rayon locally, shop online. And with cotton dresses, like my current project, I am a huge fan of cotton muslin. It is widely available and comes in a variety of weights (it even works for coating!).

Linings aren't the only way for you to easily improve your garments. Embellishment is another great way to take your sewing up a notch! You'll get fantastic ideas in Interweave's latest and greatest book for sewing enthusiasts entitled Embellish Me. Create beautiful surface designs on projects ranging from tote bags and clothes to cushion covers, lamp shades, toys, and home furnishings! Be the first to get your copy and pre-order your copy of this beautifully illustrated, step-by-step resource today!

I have no idea when the power will be on again, but thankfully my home and family are safe. Sorry if the pictures are a bit dark. I may be trying out my restored treadle machine and hand-sewing by candlelight because I can't go long without sewing!

What are your favorite ways to dress up your garments? And how do you keep sewing when the power goes? Let me know!

Happy stitching!


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About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

10 thoughts on “Choose Your Lining Well

  1. I didn’t really have power outage so much in mind as I did mindless time (ie. setting in an airport. in a hospital, bored). I put together some bags of hand sewing activities I love that I can do at the drop of a hat. I love to make plastic canvas coasters or Christmas tree decorations. Also, embroidery- a small cross stitch project. Everything is there I will need.

  2. I’m glad you made it home safely. When I was a young girl, my grandmother taught me how to sew by hand and crochet. When my husband and daughter bowl, I would be sitting there doing some form of sewing by hand. I have commented that if we ever lost power they could not bowl but I sure could continue doing what I love — sewing and crocheting!!! They thought I was being smug. Well when we were living in Florida (now in MI) during the hurricane season and lost power, I would be hand sewing and laughing at them. They were bored. Not me. I was happy as a lark!!!

  3. Still no power in my home, but we did get a generator up and running, and I was SO excited to be able turn my sewing machine on! But I will always love my hand-sewing!

  4. My favorite way to make the clothing I sew unique is to use unexpected mix of fabrics. Currently I am liking stripes with florals and mixing different width stripes. When I don’t have time to sew a whole garment I am forever embellishing and altering store bought shoes and garments.
    See my color-block linen pants at

  5. Thanks for the lining tips as I was recently in a dilemma a about this very thing for a rayon dress. Because of Florida temps, I am going to use a nice muslin but wonder if you ever dye it? I am concerned about it showing at the neck and armholes.
    Yes, hurricane or other natural disaster plans need to include hand sewing projects! I am wondering what garment style would be well suited for total hand sewing, any ideas?
    My favorite embellishment is piping. I love other fabric manipulation a like pin tucks, quilting, appliqué and smocking. Adding beads is fun as well!

  6. Any garment project can include hand sewing—from hems to bias bindings to all sorts of couture touches.

    You can dye the muslin—just keep in mind that that sort of lining will not have the drape of rayon.. Rayon is created from a natural fiber and Bemberg rayon is a great lining option to pair with your dress.

  7. For power outages I do some hand sewing, but also have a Singer treadle that I fully restored from 1902, and also have a Singer 99 from 1920 that I converted to a hand crank. Hand cranks are still used around the world, BTW, and they take up a lot less space than a treadle. Both hand cranks and treadles make a very satisfying sound when you sew with them … it’s not the same experience as with a modern power machine. Each method has its place in my studio.