Sewing · tutorials

Tutorial: lining a sleeveless dress

We are in the throes of a southern summer here, with temperatures in the humid 90s and no relief in sight.  I’ve been avoiding my sewing room because the central a/c couldn’t keep up, but finally yesterday I broke down and bought a window unit air conditioner to supplement on the 3rd floor.  Last night I went to attach the lining to my current project, and realized that I hated the instructions.  You’ve seen them – the sort of lining instructions that call for handsewing part of the lining to the dress.  I don’t think it looks very professional to sew part by hand, part by machine, so I used this technique, which I first learned for my Rooibos dress.  It’s like a magic trick – it doesn’t seem like it would work, but it does!  I hope this helps someone out  – lining a sleeveless dress is super easy this way (and it works with facings too!)

Begin with only the shoulder seams sewn in both the fashion and lining fabric.   With right sides together, pin the layers together, and sew together at the neckline.  For this pattern I made sure to pivot at each of the 4 corners.   Trim and grade the seam, clipping all the way to the stitching (but not through it!) for a v-neckline.  I use pinking shears here, since the seam will be hidden inside the dress.

Understitch (ie stitch the seam allowance to the lining) as far as you can.   Turn seam rightside out, so that the WS are together, and press your seam.

Now comes the magic part!

Lay the bodice down flat, with the wrong sides together (the way it is sewn.)  Starting at one side, begin to roll the fabric towards the opposite armhole.  Now, reach underneath, and flip the fashion fabric out (towards the right in my photo.)  Lay the lining fabric over the rolled fabric (again to the right.)  You will now have right sides together, and the rolled up fabric will be sandwiched in the middle of the layers.  Pin the armhole for sewing.

Notice that I have actually pinned the rolled fabric back at the top of the shoulder, since it’s a pretty tight fit there!  Now sew your seam, being careful not to catch the rolled fabric in the needle.

Now would be a good time to trim this seam – you won’t get another chance!  I actually only trimmed mine around the curves, as I wanted the extra fabric in the shoulders.  Now the fun part – grab hold of the end of the rolled fabric, and pull it out through the shoulder.

Keep pulling until everything has been turned rightside out –  you will now have a perfectly finished armhole!  Repeat the same action for the other side.  Pull gently – this design has really narrow armholes and I managed, so it will work!

Now, press, and admire your lovely lining.  You’re ready to sew the skirt to your dress!

I hope this tutorial helps out a few people – I have seen a few others, but I thought I would write one for those who (like me) need photos!