What’s the difference between lining, underlining and interlining?

What’s the difference between Lining, under-lining and interlining?

Colorful fabrics on sale

Linings, underlinings and interlinings are all layers inside a garment that serve quite different purposes. The terms can be confusing to anyone new to dressmaking, so here’s a breakdown of where and how to use them.


Lining is probably the most commonly used and understood. It’s a silky or lightweight layer on the inside of the garment that hides all the internal structure of the garment, making the inside look as good as the outside. Lining has another function, in that it can help garments slide more easily over the body.

In jackets for example, the silky lining layer makes putting the jacket on and off over clothes effortless. Linings are often used when the outer layer might be uncomfortable next to the skin, like for example a rough tweed cloth.

Like fabric, there’s an amazing selection of linings on the market. It’s essential to choose one that balances with your fabric. My personal preference is a cupro or anti-static lining which breathes when worn

lining fabrics

Interlinings- These are the extra layers inside clothes that you are probably unaware of until you make your own clothes. The main purpose of interlining is to provide structure and support to the garment you’re making.

Interlinings can extend the life of a garment- for example a well-structured coat will survive years of being put on and off provided the correct interlinings were used.  Interlinings come in all weights; fibres and qualities. They are often used in specific areas of the garment  like collars, cuffs and the edges of garments.

Interlinings fall into 2 categories, fusible or iron on, and non-fusible or sew in. In tailoring interlinings are used to build shape into a garment, for example canvas and felt and lightweight wools are combined over the chest area to give it a smooth rounded appearance


Underlining- This is another internal layer like interlining, but with a couple of different functions.

Underlining can be used as a way to line a garment, for example lace fabric is often ‘flat mounted’ onto lining and then constructed as a single layer. This both strengthens the lace, and makes it easier to construct whilst simultaneously lining it.

Generally an under-lining layer is applied across an entire piece of the garment rather than to just a specific area like inter-lining.

Another reason to underline is to add a layer for warmth, for example a woolly layer inside a jacket will make it extra warm, much like batting inside a quilting project. Using an under-lining can also change the appearance of the outer fabric, giving it more drape, or making it  appear firmer. In couture for example silk is often underlined, as is velvet giving the resulting garments more body, and helping to keep the shape of the garment.


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.