Lining Up!

When I started sewing, back in the late 1970s [ouch] I only knew one way to finish seams, and that was zig-zagging.  So that’s what I did, for many, many years, as I couldn’t afford an overlocker, until just 6 years ago.  I made a  very small number of lined garments in those years, in fact I can barely remember any- barring the cardigan jacket I made for my first wedding…which had a huge hole burned into it the night before the wedding, when I gave it a last-minute press.  Double ouch.

When I bought that overlocker, with the intention of using it to roll hem several miles of chiffon for my daughter’s bridesmaids’ dresses [still not mastered that one], I started sewing LOTS of knit/stretch garments.  LOTS.  I also took the Craftsy ‘Couture Dress’ course, and was outrageously pleased to find that I already did a few things that could be classes [at a pinch] as couture techniques- my penchant for hand-sewn zips and hand-sewn hems being the main contenders.  I also learned about underlining, and started to use it in special projects.

Tiny rolled hem on scarf for friend’s wedding outfit…
…and hand-picked zip and petersham waistband

I love the look of a hand inserted lining, and other hand-finishes, like thread chains to anchor linings, and have started to incorporate them into some of my sewing.

This silk chiffon top is completely hand sewn, underlined in habotai.

I mainly sew for myself- every day wear for work mainly, but I also sew quite a lot of steampunk/neo-Victorian outfits.  This followed from a love of costume making, and a wish to just dress up in outrageous style!  I sew for my wife too, and she absolutely loves little details added to the insides of her clothes.  This blouse has organza sleeve heads to hold up the gigot sleeves, but I have also had to make little stuffed cushions to hold them up even more.  Apparently, this is historically correct too.  Truly Victorian shirtwaist.

I’m completely self-taught, and I learned from following patterns, then finding a few ‘better’ ways to do my own thing.  I have no idea of this particular technique has a name, I ‘made it up’ because I decided after cutting out this Style Arc denim jacket, that I wanted it to have felled seams.  there wasn’t enough seam allowance [Style Arc only allow 1cm]  I scavenged around in my stash of scraps [I don’t throw anything much away] and found plenty of this rather nice blue print, and made it into bias binding, roughly 2″ wide. I sewed the seams, right sides together, with one bias binding edge lined up with the raw edges. I then pressed it all to one side, and graded the seam, then turned under the raw edge of the binding, basted it in place, and stitched it down, making a nice, decorative felled effect.  It’s pretty, neat, and strong too.

I like to use pretty linings- and I have no qualms at all about using multiple fabrics as linings, whatever works, whatever I have, whatever isn’t wasted!  This little ‘Eton Jacket’ using  Truly Victorian pattern, is lined using  a quilted table runner I bought from a charity shop.  Why not?  The ‘Tail Jacket’ also Truly Victorian, is lined in three different silks, as I didn’t have enough of any one- it makes me happy though!

Even my wife’s lovely full-length wool coat is lined in two different colours.  [Simplicity 1732] I love the piping on this one- and yes, the lining is all hand-inserted on this.

I also hand-sewed the lining into her wedding dress- here it is, inside out, showing the bustle ribbons, and the hand-stitched eyelets down the back.  It’s a habotai silk lining,  shot silk dupion for the main dress. Not a great pic, hey-ho!

The sleeves had to be hand stitched, including teeny rolled hems, as I was scared that the very very delicate ‘silk changeant’ would tear in the machine! [McCall’s 4378]  This dress had to have considerable scaffolding sewn in to support the weight of all the beading on the train:  I used long selvage strips of silk organza for that.

Oh yes, and I love a secret hem facing or other little treat inside my steampunk clothes especially.  Here’s a secret African print hem on a demure Victorian skirt, and a flash of stripey madness inside its fastening!

Making steampunk/historical clothing definitely teaches you about internal structure:  what do you think of these collar wires?

Or this lobstertail bustle?

Or this corded bodice?  I used hairy string for this one…


A whirlwind tour of various makes and inside details.  For more, why not visit me over on TheDementedFairy?

14 thoughts on “Lining Up!”

  1. You’ve made some truly spectacular creations! I can’t get over the stunning wedding dress for your wife. How did you attach the selvage strips of organza? Along the vertical seams or were they already sufficiently self supporting?

    1. I had to do it along the vertical seams, then a sort of scaffolding lattice work between them. THere’s a LOT of beading!

  2. I have only started following you recently on the demented fairy, it is a treat to see all your prior amazing work! Your patience for all the hand work is admirable

    1. Thank you! I surprise myself sometimes with my new patience- I never used to have ANY, and could barely stand to plug in an iron long enough to do a final press, let alone press-as-you-sew. I still have plenty to learn and improve though! Gl;ad you’re enjoying the blog x

  3. This showed up on my phone at a very difficult point in my life….I have an Etsy store that I am closing. I am a seamstress and sewing is in my heart. I am grieving (for lack of a better word) the loss of my store and do not know what to do now. But one thing I am going to do is to check your blog out. You are truly amazing and your talent far surpasses anything I have seen. You are an inspiration!

    1. Thank you for the lovely compliment! I’m sorry about your store-but creative skills always find an outlet. Something will come to you once you get over this setback…it’s how we all operate isn’t it? Take it easy, make more things for fun, see what comes to mind x

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