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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Flat Lining, Part One

Flat lining is a great way to line garments with simple lines like  straight skirts and  pants. It finishes the seam edges with a Hong Kong finish and underlines them at the same time. Today I will show you the basics using the back pieces of the March pants. These are a rayon poly but look a lot like a worsted. They definitely don't have that poly look. The lining is a poly anti static from JA's that I have used before. Not my preferred lining fabric but the fashion fabric is not the most expensive so I don't think it warrants Bemberg or silk.
I learned this technique directly from Threads. If you have all your old Threads like I do or if you are lucky to have the new DVD, it is in Threads issue #42 from 1992. I am sure others have put it out there so check your libraries.

The first thing you do is cut and mark your fashion fabric. You can use those cut pieces as your pattern or just use the pattern. Lay the pattern out on the lining. Cut all VERTICAL seams ONE HALF INCH BIGGER THAN THE PATTERN. Somewhere I have seen the directions for this calling for 5/8ths of an inch bigger but the Threads recommended half inch has always worked fine for me. If you are using a really bulky fabric I would cut them 5/8ths of an inch bigger to more accommodate the turn of cloth.

Do not cut the crotch seam bigger other than the fly extension.

Once the lining is cut out, place right sides together. Put the quarter inch foot on your sewing machine. Yes, the lining is bigger. Line up the raw seam edges of one of the vertical seams, right sides together. Stitch with a one quarter inch seam allowance.
Iron the seams together to meld. Cut off one eight inch of the seam allowance. I like my rotary cutter for this. You are now left with a 1/8 inch seam. It is important to remember this because if your garment has 5/8th inch SAs, now when you go to sew it you will use a 1/2 inch seam allowance instead. To be clear, you just cut off one eighth inch of the seam allowance. What remains is a half inch so that is your new seam allowance to complete all of these vertical seams only on the garment. whew---

Back to the ironing board. Iron the lining away from the fashion fabric on the right side. Use a cloth if needed. Now wrap the lining around the cut 1/8th inch seam to the wrong side. Pin next to the well of the seam to get a nice tight wrap. Iron in place.

Switch your machine foot to the edge stitching foot. Stitch in the well of the seam the length of the seam. Press. Do the rest of the vertical seams in the same fashion being very careful you don't get your right and wrong sides mixed up!

Once your edges are all bound, lay your fabric out. Do some diagonal basting on the straight of grain. Some styles may require more of this than others.

Once the diagonal basting along grain is done you can proceed to do your darts. Make sure you either baste or pin down the center of the darts to keep the fabrics snug.

On these pants I then taped the crotch with a strip of selvedge. The tape was cut to the length of the crotch on the pattern. It was sewn down but once I reached the curve I pulled it and eased in the crotch curve so that it ended at the exact correct length.

What I have shown you is on the back pieces of the pants. My TNT pants pattern has pockets and that beloved pants stay as well as the crotch curve and zipper.  There are also more darts in the front so the front is handled a bit differently and I will show you that in the next post.
One great thing about this technique is that when you are done sewing these vertical seams, your garment is pretty much all lined and the seam finished.


The blocking board is dry. It looks a lot better. It seems I just rearranged the water stains but  they are also a bit  lighter. Bottom line, I got a couple more years added on to its lifetime...Bunny


  1. That's so clever! It looks so neat. Thank you for sharing how you did this and referencing threads too. Also thank you for taking the time to take so many pictures. Pictures really help!

  2. What a great way to line pants and have the seams done all at the same time. Would this work for skirts and jackets too? Hmm...would depend I guess on the pattern.

  3. It will work on any vertical seams. Not sure a princess seamed jacket would be best lined this way due to the curves. I have used this techniques on pants, straight skirts, and wrap skirts.

    I am glad that so far the process seams clear. If anyone has any questions let me know. It gets a bit more involved with pants/skirts with slanted side pockets and that will get explained in the next post.

  4. Thakns for this very and complete tutorial. I have already tried this method in the past but I guess that I missed dome steps for the result was not so neat as yours. I definitely want to have another go after reading your post.

  5. This is such a cool technique! I've used it on skirts a few times already and it gives a completely different result than a "normal" lined skirt. The drape is better and the wearing feeling too.
    How did you finish the crotch seam? Serging?
    I sometimes do a "lazy" flat lining without the HongKong finish-effect: I just serge together the lining and fashion fabric pieces and treat them as one. Works also great, but it's not as neat and coutur-ey as this method.

  6. Thank you for explaining this method so clearly. I was thinking about making a wrap skirt soon and I will use this method to line it.

  7. Bunny, you're the best. I saw this method again recently (Threads online? Sew News?) and was curious about it. Nice work.

  8. I'm impressed! I was wondering how you were going to get the hong kong is just there using th is method. Guess I will go dig out that issue of Threads! Thanks for the time you take to do this!

  9. I have some wool material--the kind that would be used for a Chanel suit--that I am going to use for a straight skirt. I have read the Threads article and am still unsure if I should use flat lining on this type of skirt. What do you recommend? Also, do you have a recommendation on how I should wash this material before I work on it? Should I just have it dry cleaned before I begin the project? Love your site!

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Its 2016 and I just reread this post. I think this would be a great lining technique for a boucle/Chanel type fabric. Also, I would steam the boucle. Washing could shrink it right up. You can have the cleaners steam if or you or carefully do it yourself with an iron. Be careful not to smoosh the texture.

  11. Thank you so much for posting photos of the process! I had such a tough time visualizing how to make the flat-lining process work just from the Threads article.

  12. Hi Bunny, I found my way to your blog from Margy's A Fool 4 Fabric blog regarding flat lining. I used your method for my straight skirt and it looks wonderful.

    My question is about the hem: do you do anything special to accommodate the lining fabric once you turn up the hem? Do you trim away the lined pieces at the seams that will turn up and be encased in the hem to avoid bulk? Do you trim the lining to shorten it so when you turn up the hem it's encased in the hem fold? I'm trying to figure out the best way to finish the hem and thought I'd ask you as you have already done this and have the insight.

    Thank you for the crystal-clear instructions with photos - it's been very helpful.

  13. I always try to follow Roberta Carr's number one rule of sewing: reduce bulk whenever possible. I trim back the seam allowances in the hem area where it won't show. I also cut out the lining at the hem fold so there is only one layer of lining up to the hem and the fold is just the fashion fabric. HTHs and any more questions I am glad to help. Good luck with your pants.

  14. I would love to see a photo from the wrong side of a finished vertical seam after you have pressed it.


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