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May 9, 2012

SIL Dress -- New Muslin! + Lining vs. Underlining



So much to cover today, readers, so let's get to it.

Yesterday I quickly stitched up a muslin of my Style 3263 slip pattern, which you'll recall most closely resembles the original dress my SIL Prachee requested way back when.





Prachee tried it on and wasn't crazy about the shape.  Her hips are slightly wider than her shoulders and I don't think she finds the A-line shape flattering.  (She's 5'4" and I think the A-line flatters a longer torso.)

QUESTION: Do you think an A-line disguises slightly wider hips or accentuates them?  How about A-lines on short(ish) women -- yes or no?

I may still fiddle with the muslin and taper it below the hips.  I will also take it in an inch on either side.  I wonder if I should try a size 10 pattern, as I had to make the same adjustment to the Vogue sloper.

We also agreed that it doesn't read very dressy; it's more of a sundress.  My original plan was to make this version (as per the directions) cut parallel to the selvage and another version cut on the bias to see how the bias version would compare, but I ran out of time.



Anyway, Prachee now prefers the original sheath dress to the slip dress.  I put two 4" vertical darts beneath the bust on the muslin I made last week, and I intend to make them a few inches longer.  We also worked on narrowing the shoulder.





She finds the fit comfortable.  We may add the neckline from the Style pattern to the sheath, which, you may recall, started out as a Size 12 Vogue A-line sloper.



Meanwhile, I ironed the raw silk that bled all over my towels last week, and experimented with vertical darts.  Much to my surprise, these came out beautiful!  (The raw silk has a highly visible horizontal (the weft) weave; I was concerned the darts wouldn't press flat)  Laundered, the raw silk is much softer than before and much less smelly.



Now the question is lining and/or underlining; I'm assuming you know the difference. The silk is semi-transparent. 



Should I underline or line, or both?  I'm inclined to just line it.  I tried putting some silk charmeuse behind the raw silk and it gave the fabric a much more drapey look and feel.

QUESTION: If I line, how about facings?  Should the lining attach to the neck and armhole facings  or should the facings go over the already-attached lining?  I may research some contemporary sheath dress patterns and see how this is normally done.  Most vintage dress patterns do not call for a lining, but the opera coat I made from a vintage housecoat pattern had the neck facing attached over the lining, as opposed to the lining being attached to the (raw) edge of the facing.

Lining the dress means I don't have to finish my raw seam allowances, whereas with underlining I would (since each underlined piece is treated as a single layer of fabric), is that correct?

Finally, what should I line with?  I was thinking Bemberg rayon, as silk would be too hot.  Thoughts?

Thanks for your help and have a great day, everybody!

52 comments:

  1. I vote for underlining.

    One of the great pro's of the original dress was the way it draped - I believe you will get closer to the original if you underline.

    I find that a lining works best with clothes that skim the contour of the body. If the fit is closer I think underlining is better - it won't wrinkle, turn or creep up :-)

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    1. Hmmm....I never thought of that. Thanks!

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  2. When you line a dress you omit the facings. Check out Susan Khalje's articles on sewing LBDs in Threads to get a better idea of what I mean. Was this what you were asking, Peter?

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    1. Thanks, Meg. Do you ALWAYS skip the facings? Wouldn't the lining sometimes show? I mean, I know you'd understitch and I guess you could also topstitch along the outer edge.

      ??

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    2. I have a great book called Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long. She gives one option as being to "use the main dress pattern pieces for the sections that you want to line. The facing pieces will be sewn directly onto the lining pieces, thus eliminating the need to interface the facings." However, she says if the fashion fabric is bulky or scratchy you may choose just to omit the facings. In this case I guess it is necessary to choose a lining that is very close in color to the fashion fabric in case it does show.
      The same lining technique is shown in the Colette sewing book. The basic idea is that you finish your facing bottoms by folding over and stitching, then you place them on top of the lining and stitch them down flat. Then, you assemble the lining and attach as usual.
      I like your idea for using the 1st style but adding the piece at the neck. It looks very flattering on your sister in law.

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    3. I have some dresses from japan, and their method of lining is more like what Peter is suggesting. In these, they've sewn the lining to the facing like you'd sew parts of a bodice together.

      That said, I have no real input as to lining vs interlining, just mentioning that Ive seen it done both ways.

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  3. I'm 5'3 and I think I look great in the right A-line dress. I think that the fabric in the muslin isn't stiff enough to really stand away from her hips. You need a stiff material for an A-line. Incidentally, the last A-line dress I sewed called for facings but I eliminated them when I lined it instead (I had previously made it with facings and no lining and the fit was perfect). Unfortunately, I found that the lining limited the range of movement, it should have had a pleat in the back to accomodate movement. That wouldn't have been an issue if I had underlined it.

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  4. I would suggest narrowing the yoke and pulling it inward a little more on whichever pattern you choose. It will draw more attention upward and become a design feature vs. just part of the dress...that should take focus away from the hips (which BTW are Just Right for a real slim human being vs. Barbie).

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  5. Check out Butterick 5396 for hints on lining a sheath. I love this pattern; no size adjustments needed, it's flattering, and you can vary the sleeve length.

    What about tapering the skirt side seams in from mid-thigh to hem, like a pencil skirt? That could visually minimize hips ....

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  6. I'm with Lene; underlining. I'd also finish the seam allowances and not line the dress for the best drapeability, and use narrow facings.

    I think the A-line silhouette can work on shorter figures; sometimes nipping the flare of the skirt can make it a little more figure-flattering (as it edits the silhouette just a bit).

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  7. I think that underlining will make the fabric have more body and keep down wrinkling when worn better than lining.

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  8. There's an underlining technique on patternreview http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/review/readreview.pl?readreview=1&ID=1044 that gives the effect of a hong kong finish. I haven't tried it yet, but I really like the look of it.

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    Replies
    1. I've tried this technique on a pencil skirt. It created a very nice finish, and made the fashion fabric (a light wool suiting) more wrinkle resistant and added a real stability and body.

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  9. And if I underline, the vertical darts are sewn through both layers, or each layer separately?

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  10. Yes, underline for sure. Some silks have a tendency to pull at seams where there's any stress. Underlining helps to prevent that.

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  11. i'm partial to underlining, and yes you sew through both fabrics for darts. if you first stitch through the middle of the dart, it helps keep the layers together when you go to stitch the dart itself. i simply machine baste the shell to the underlining at 1/4" from the edges (running off the edges at corners, not pivoting). then, depending on the dress i also using lining and bemberg is definitely my fabric of choice! as for facings, i use them when i underline but don't line a dress, and sometimes i underline, line and face. depends on how neurotic i'm feeling... i do like the method where you attach the facings to the lining first. it's clean and easy to do!

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    1. Thanks for the great dart tip, Lisa!

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  12. Facings are NOT your friend. RTW seems to have figured this out a long time ago, and you will rarely see them (one of my only positives on most RTW garments) If you like your SIL, don't torment her with facings that will flip out. If you must, lengthen them by at least 1 inch (Sandra Betzina addresses this in her Power Sewing book) so they have have a hope of staying down...but I would avoid them altogether.

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  13. You should def use silk - not bemberg. It feels so much better and it isn't hotter because it breathes. Also, I think there's an issue at the side bust on your muslin. It's hard to tell what's going on from a picture, but I think you might need to dart. It looks like there's not quite enough shaping.

    The shape of that dress is more trapeze than a-line, as I see it. Because it doesn't highlight her waist, it overemphasizes her hips. I don't think alines are inherently unflattering to those with proportionately wide hips. I just think that this pattern is throwing some extra issues in.

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  14. In couture the edges of the pressed underlined seams are catch stitched by hand to the underlining to keep the seams smooth

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  15. I'm with Jan and K.Line.

    Without height, a body is peddlin' curves and/or cleavage.

    Your SIL's liking the sheath attests that she inherently curv-ticular.

    Get dart-smart; you've already discovered how dart-phillic the fashion fabric is. Please showcase more of your artistry.

    Tapering the skirt until it is straight, and then an additional 1/2 inch on each side, should create a SILhouette worthy of Prachee.

    As for trapeze, 'bout 15 years ago a gal pal bought such a dress, and I studied it. The most narrow point is horizontal to the apexes (pits to bustline slightly narrowed, then uninterupted flare from bustline to hem). This muslin appears to be a trapeze with a slight waist line, so any flare simply makes the lower-half a short full skirt which starts at the waist(that's a style for a 4 year-old, or the "post-menopausal in pig tails" type [and don't act as if there isn't one in your town]).

    K.Line's pro-silk lining stance, while hardline by most accounts, is defensible for two reasons; perspiration and family relations. Long after the Mayan's have wreaked havoc upon us you may be seated at a table with this garment - go the extra mile.

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  16. Did I hear you mention that you might cut on the bias? Oooooh, I don't think you want to go there unless you have experience! Bias can be a whole new ballgame! LOL!! I thought it was easy until I made a shirt out of a gauze like fabric and was wondering why it was "growing" by the minute!!! I trashed it, but learned a good lesson!

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  17. I lined a silk-cotton dress with Bemberg and did not include facings. For support around high-stress areas, I fused interfacing directly to the lining. My review is here http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/52495

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  18. I'm with scorpioninblue about using this cloth on the bias - don't go there!

    I have to admit I am a facing fan, and would definitely use them on this fabric. Facings stabilise and retain the shape of the neckline/armhole edges better than lining will ever do. I would blockfuse the facings, and underline the dress to prevent the facings showing through the slightly sheer fabric. They will never flip out if you catch-stitch them to the underlining, or attach them to a separate lining like here http://buzzybeesworld.blogspot.co.nz/2011/01/tricks-of-trade-shift-dress-lining.html

    You could also cut the lining to the neck/armhole edges and face over top as you mentioned, if you don't choose to underline. But my instinct is to go the whole way and underline with silk organza to help this fabric retain its shape. It really depends on the look/feel you want - try sampling a couple of swatches to decide.

    Whatever you choose, it looks like the fabric is going to sew up just beautifully! And I'm loving that colour!

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    1. Sherry, I think my main question is whether I want a stiffer underlining or one that's drapey. I'm wondering if organza is too stiff.

      Earlier today I looked at China silk (Habotai), which is lightweight and cheaper than the heavier silks. Also rayon linings. Frankly, I'm a little overwhelmed by the options!

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    2. Yes it could be a bit stiff. I used two qualities of silk organza, one was quite stiff and crisp for the 'big skirts', and one was fairly lightweight in comparison. Maybe habotai is your answer though - some experimentation is in order!

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  19. This type of silk definitely needs underlining not just to keep the wrinkles down, which it does, but to give the seams added strength. Raw silk has a tendency to pull away from the stitching under any stress without underlining. I would also line the dress. I'd use silk organza for the underlining, unwashed it will have more body. If you want to lose some of it do wash it.I would line with silk crepe de chine.
    As for your fiasco with the silk bleeding, silk does not hold dye well as you discovered.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. Would you say crepe de chine is preferable to China silk?

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  20. I don't think there's anything wrong with a 5'4" person wearing A-line clothes. I'm 5'3" and it is my favorite silhouette as I have a medium size waist and larger hips. I'm not an expert seamstress by any stretch of the imagination but, to me, it looked like the front darts on the slip pattern were too long in that they pulled and didn't lay flat at the hips.

    As for facings and linings, I'm lazy and would make the lining, attach it wrong side to wrong side at the neck and armholes (to essentially treat it as a single piece) and then add the facings as called for in the pattern. Handstitch the facings to the lining so they don't flip out.

    Depending on the ease of the dress though, I do agree with others about the use of underlining to avoid bunching. Whatever you end up doing will look fine.

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  21. I think if you have very wide hips compared to shoulders/bust line A line is not the right shape to wear, but your SIL doesn't look much bigger (if at all), the princess line is perfect, gives definition to the top half and not drawing attention to the bottom. I think the other thing to think about is length, its the most important, if you get the length right you look slimmer. Most store bought dresses won't suit everyone because they will be too long etc. Don't have a hem finishing at your widest point is another rule of thumb, especially with a blouse or tshirt. I think you've got it right, the dress is lovely, just need the models approval ;) I really like the fit of the purple/green dress (A line??), the slip (plain green) looks like a bag, shapeless and does nothing for her petite shape. JMHO.

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  22. I've underlined using the faux hong kong method mentioned above. It's a very nice and clean finish!

    I agree with K-line and Testosterone and Nancy K. I'd avoid organza if I wanted the dress to drape.

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  23. I'm pear-shaped, too, and I think A-lines are fine as long as they are cut correctly. I'm assuming you took this into account, but it's not enough for the dress to simply be able to go over the hips--it has to have as much ease as was intended so that it moves and hangs correctly, so some will have to be added over the hips. I actually think the purple/green one will look great once the bust is properly fitted (am I seeing major gape-age at the sides?). The interesting neckline is exactly what pear-shaped girls are always recommended to wear.

    The green one doesn't do much for me, but it might be because it's a solid, bright, green and the photograph isn't doing it justice. She looks like a bar of Irish Spring with legs.

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  24. If I was making it , I would underline , use a neck facing ( with sew in woven , not fusable interfacing ) and self bind the armholes . I bought a bunch of this silk/cotton blend & it is wonderful , breathes better with the added cotton & has a lovely hand .

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/230732252512?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

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  25. Just my opinion, but I don't think either silhouette is the most flattering for Prachee - both hide her assets.

    Those assets are: A good bustline, a nice, neat waist, and curvy hips.

    I honestly think she'd be a perfect candidate for something more molded to her figure, particularly below the hips. The fact that she isn't tall also militates against details that flare out or stick out in any way - the only tiny women who can get away with those are those few fortunate classic-movie-star types who just happen to be tall, lean goddesses in perfect miniature.

    Think bandage dress for this figure type, or fitted dresses with that sort of silhouette. Cling is the thing. Prachee is very lucky to be able to wear that kind of look - the tall goddesses can't because it makes them look bony, and a short, fuller figure can't either, because it makes them look - well, even shorter and fuller.

    Prachee, you have a VERY NICE FIGURE. You can afford to show it off!

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  26. If I was making this dress; I would underline it, line it and use facing.
    Underlining is use to support and give structure to a garment and FABRID. In this case, using raw silk, you need the underlining TO SUPPORT it.

    Raw silk as well as Shantung and Doupioni, has an uneven weave that needs support to prevent tearing while wearing the garment. I would use silk organza.

    Lining, would make the body move freely without disturbing the hand of the dress, as well as protect and hide inside workmanship.

    Facing, is a matter of “what you want to say about your garment” [that of course when you have lined it]. “Better dresses, Designer dress” most have facing as well as lining, it gives a clean finish to the dress as well as protects the garment [neckline and armhole]. I would use Silk China or Habotai, or any good quality “China”.

    A side note: A great Sewing Book, [I would say “the Bible”] in my opinion, is Complete Guide to Sewing by Reader’s Digest. Here you would find a clear definition on “underlining, interfacing, and interlining” was well as other sewing and fabrics related topics.

    Good luck, can’t wait to see the dress done

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  27. I recently took a class on sewing with silk and the teacher's advice was to avoid China Silk (aka Habotai). It is the most unruly silk, slippery, likes to morph and pucker. I think silk Crepe de chine is easiest to work with. Silk charmeuse feels wonderful agains the skin.

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  28. Very timely topic, as we just found a silk windfall at charity shops, raw, and Thai. Have been afraid to cut and sew. I detest facings, and usually do self bindings, or silk bindings, which show as trim, or are inside. A wonderful Armani pantsuit we nabbed at a charity shop has these, but also the neck, etc. are stabilized under by a light cotton BIAS tape. I am investigating stabilizing seamlines, at neck, etc. Also have a roll of very, very narrow twill tape. I prefer the unlined, and not underlined. But then, I'm "damaged", due to that wool A-line dress with jewell neck all underlined in heavy Pellon my mother made me in 1963. I like my fabrics "natural", come as they are.... Cathie, in Quebec.

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  29. The answer is it depends. The fabric looks and sounds like it needs an underlining, to keep it stable. The hand of the underlining, combined with the hand of the fashion fabric is what you will end up with. Just guessing, I think China silk would be good because it is a lot more stable than your silk and it has a very subtle hand. Silk crepe de chine is probably too loosy-goosey for this. And, yes, ideally you'd line it, too.
    Facings are nice - they add stability and perhaps durability. I wouldn't generalize that they are good or bad - it depends on the project. I agree your SIL can wear something quite fitted and look fab. If the A-line looks dumpy, peg the skirt to be narrower at the knee. My sister is 6'1" and I am doing that alteration on a dress for her. So much sexier. I don't think it is a height thing - it is a proportion thing. Everything is relative.

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  30. hmm, I just read through some of the other comments. There is enough here to set anyone's head spinning!

    Good on you for making a dress for your SIL!! It sounds like a fun time :D

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    1. The one downside to asking for advice. ;)

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  31. I am only 5 foot (and slightly pear shaped) and I find that an A-line dress flatters me if it accentuates the smallest part under the bust quite heavily and then flares out a bit. I feel that the purple muslin is not tight enough under her bust and not wide enough to skim over her tummy and hips.

    I know this isn't actually a helpful comments so I am looking forward to seeing this dress develop.

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  32. I'm with the two comments that suggested a cotton-silk blend for underlining if you want the dress to drape softly. I've just discovered this fabric and it's lovely- has a soft sheen and is nicely slippery but not so slippery that it's hard to cut and sew. Your posts on this project are reminding me just how many decisions we make whenever we 'just run up a little dress or shirt' and how we should all be very proud of ourselves for our expertise!

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  33. Yes and it also shows how much is involved underneath to achieve what you want. On a side note,so many non-sewists don't have an inkling on the level of work that goes into a well made garment.....they think it's just a cut and sew process and nothing more. Some even have the gall to tell you how easy it would be to sew whatever they want! Those types deserve a good "Joan Crawford backhand"!!!!

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    1. What's sad is that a badly made garment can take just as much work! There are no guarantees of a successful outcome.

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  34. With a similar silhouette, my go-to is always the sheath shape: fitted a bit through the waist and tapered a bit from waist to hem. Even the unfitted sheath is a better showcase for her!

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    1. How tacky is it to reply to my own comment? So sorry, but I did leave out two things. 1. The original dress is almost a sheath. There only a slight flare down to the hem. The pattern appears have a wider flare. 2. The drape of the silk for an a-line is everything. If it's quite fluid, that's a plus. If it's a stiffer silk with a lot of body, I'd err on the side of the sheath. The muslin accentuates the a-line because it's stiffer.

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  35. We just did a piece with a raw silk/linen blend, and the fraying that you experienced with this before is NOTHING in the face of the aggressive fraying this fabric is displaying - especially after being worn+washed (and we prewashed it, too). Serging helps, but is not a cure-all. However, the pieces that are underlined (it's a jacket, and it's all but 2 pieces that were underlined) are surviving WAY, WAY better than the two pieces that were not. Just a data point.

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  36. In 1992, I wrote an article titled "Flat Lining" for THREADS magazine that illustrates the technique mentioned above. Flat lining with a Hong Kong finish is still a favorite technique. See THREADS #12, Aug/Sept 1992, pages 59 & 59. This is what ReadyThreadSew is describing. You would still need a facing for neck/sleeve, but that could be a bias tape facing of the lining fabric, and you would need to think out how to handle the shoulder seam. I would sew the garment shoulder seams first (press, etc.) then sew the lining shoulder seam (there will be a bit of a twist to sew this seam). You could sew in some interfacing first if the fabric requires it. Then add the facing however you choose.

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  37. I'm 5'2" and the A-line is one of my favorite shapes.

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