You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover


Everyone knows the expression “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but did you know that this well known phrase has meaning in the sewing world too?  You can look at the outside of a garment and you can see that it is beautiful. It can be a baby day gown made out of the finest, most delicate nelona with hand embroidery and French lace at the collar and sleeves and it can take your breath away with the beauty of it. However, if you put your sweet little baby in that gorgeous daygown with no slip it changes the whole look of the garment! Of course, those chubby legs are absolutely precious, but what you really need for that daygown is a slip. What is inside a garment can be just as important as the outside.

Because each garment is unique, the necessary lining will vary. We will talk about three different ways of lining-beginning with the slip we mentioned earlier.

43016 slip 1 lg

Slips are created to prevent show through in clothing, which is why they are especially needed in heirloom clothing. The fabrics used for this type of sewing are so fine that they are quite sheer. Several different fabrics can be used for a slip-it really depends on the sewist’s preference. Most people decide on simple imperial batiste, but others prefer bearissima. Because the purpose of the slip is to prevent show through, people often choose white under white or light colors. If a shade the matches the outer dress can be found, then that can be used also. One fun idea that we’ve seen before is the use of a blue slip under a sheer Swiss voile. As you can see in the photo, the subtlety of the blue adds a new dimension to the dress.

While slips are a form of lining used to prevent show through, another use for a lining is to add warmth to a garment. We are coming up on cold weather and many of you are beginning to make fall and winter clothes. When you make a jacket or coat, you will most definitely line it. Of course, the level of the warmth of your lining will depend on the climate you live in (here in South Carolina we don’t need as thick of a coat as those of you further north!). Some of you can get away with a cotton or polyester lining, but for the colder places you might choose a kasha fabric or maybe even a wool or silk with some quilted layers. (Find the kit for the sweet pink coat below on our website here)

Yet another use for a lining is that of preventing chafing from seams or even just to add a more finished look to the inside of a garment. We can see that happen in many different outfits: for example in something like a jon-jon or the bodice of a dress. Fabrics for those usually depend on the fabrics used on the garment. Some people like to carry over the outer fabric into the inside so that it matches and doesn’t show at the armholes or neckline. Of course, another option is always white or colored imperial batiste.


The dress has been partially lined-just the yoke.

No one appreciates a well made garment like a sewist. That’s because when we look at a dress, coat, or jon-jon we don’t only look at surface form, but we appreciate the function and the detail even on the inside.

One thought on “You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover

  1. Kim H says:

    I just love this topic! I once gave a beautiful white heirloom pillow cover to a dear relative that I was visiting. Because I had to travel across the country, I did not bring a white insert to put in it. Big mistake. She loved it, of course, but she took an old yellowed pillow out of another pillow cover and put it in the one I had made. Needless to say, it changed the whole look of the pretty lace and batiste pillow cover I had made. I tried to suggest that we go and get a new insert, but the suggestion went off with the old pillow cover….


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