The outer construction of a garment gets all the likes. But no dress, coat or pair of pants would look nearly as good (or feel nearly as nice) if it weren’t for the interlining, lining, facing and interfacing.
If those terms tend to all blur in your mind — or you're familiar with these underpinnings, but not quite sure when, how or where to use them — stay with us! We’re here to shed some light on the largely hidden yet essential elements that go into making any garment look professional and on point.
This is a legit sewing trick. Interlining refers to material added between the outer fabric and the lining of a garment. You would typically use it to give a garment extra warmth, but it can also add body or change the drape of a piece. Interlining can be permanent or removable (like a winter jacket that has a shell and a warm layer that can be zipped in and out) and is a great way to make a fabric or pattern work better for you — even a pattern that doesn’t call for interlining.
Common fabric choices for interlining include Primaloft, Thinsulate. flannel, fleece, cotton batting and chamois. To create an interlining , simply cut the main pattern pieces (like the body and sleeves) from the interlining fabric, baste them to the main fabric and then proceed with your pattern instructions. You may later need to trim the interlining out from your seams to reduce bulk as you sew.
A lining plays many important roles : It hides interior seams and construction details (like interlining!), reduces wrinkling and makes a garment look smoother and feel better on your body. It also makes that garment slip on and off more easily. A lining can even be a design element in its own right. You might, for example, give a wool jacket some extra flair by adding a lining in an amazing print.
Linings are usually made from a silky, slippery material. Great choices include silk charmeuse and silk crepe de chine or, if you’re more budget-conscious, polyester charmeuse. Linings are attached at the facing or hem, either by machine- or hand-stitching. Always make sure the wrong side of the lining is facing the wrong side of your main fabric.
Facing is fabric applied to the garment's inside edge (such as along necklines and armholes), usually in place of a full lining. Like a lining, facing gives the garment a clean look, since it hides the raw edge between the wrong side of the fabric and the wrong side of the facing. Facing also gives a garment extra strength in certain areas. And you can use it to add contrast or an extra design element to a garment.
Facings are usually cut from the same fabric as the rest of the garment, but from “facing” pattern pieces. Facings are often interfaced (don’t worry, we’ll explain that one in a minute!) to help them maintain their shape or provide a little extra stiffness.
When attaching a facing , the pattern provides dots, notches and seams that should line up with the same parts on the facing. Once a facing is attached, you’ll want to add a line of understitching (a row of stitches just inside the seam line) to help keep the fabric turned under and add a crisp edge to your piece. The bottom edge of your facing hangs free, but will need to be finished (by pinking, applying bias tape or turning up the edge and topstitching). Pressing your garment to get the facing to roll a bit to the inside of the garment will ensure the seam doesn’t show.
Interfacing is your secret weapon — you don’t see it but it proves added strength, support or shape to a garment. You apply it to parts of a garment that need a little more body or stiffness, like a shirt collar or a button placket. Interfacing can also prevent seams and curved areas from stretching out. There's even knit interfacing for use with knit fabrics.
There are two types of interfacings: sew-in and fusible interfacing (which simply needs to be ironed on ). Whichever facing you use should be similar in weight to your garment fabric. Your pattern instructions will indicate which pieces of your garment need to be interfaced. You then cut your interfacing just slightly smaller than the fabric you’ll be attaching it to and sew or iron it to the wrong side of the fabric. As with sewing an interlining, you may want to trim out the interfacing from your seams to reduce bulk.
Now that you know more about what each of these four sewing techniques does, you have new insights into the design of a well-made garment. Hope this provides inspo for your next project!