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How to Sew Underlining


Underlining is a layer of fabric that’s added behind the main garment fabric. It’s different from lining (page link) because instead of being sewn separately and attached around the edges, the main fabric and underlining are sewn as one. Underlining is used for sewing sheer fabrics as a backing to prevent transparency. Underlining is also used as support, to add stiffness and structure, or to change the drape of the main fabric.

White underlining under sheer fabric

White underlining under sheer fabric

Dark underlining under lace fabric

Dark underlining under lace fabric


Underline sheer fabrics so you can’t see through them. Add structure or stiffness with underlining when your main fabric is not supportive enough on its own. Underline with soft fabrics when the garment fabric is stiff or scratchy to add a softer inner layer against your skin. Change the color of your fabric by changing the underlining. Whites will brighten a white-based print, while ivory underlining will soften it. Underlining a black-and-white print with black will darken the look, while white will brighten the whites. Not only can it add structure or change the color, but underlining can make your project more comfortable to wear and extend the life of your garment. For lace fabrics, choosing a contrasting color for underlining will make the lace pattern show up more clearly than if you choose a matching color.

Tips + Notes

  • Prewash (page link) underlining fabrics the same way you prewashed the main garment fabric.
  • If you underline the bodice, underline or line the skirt in the same color. Otherwise the bodice will look different in color than the rest of the garment.
  • As an alternative cutting method, cut the garment fabric first, then lay the cut piece on the underlining fabric. Baste the garment piece to the underlining and cut around the edges.
  • When basting the layers together, flatness is more important than lining up the raw edges perfectly. Smooth out the layers with your hands to ensure there are no bubbles as you work.
  • When hemming underlined garments, hand stitch the hem to the underlining only, not through to the garment fabric. This way the hem will be completely invisible!


Cut pieces of underlining using the same pattern pieces as the main garment fabric. If you are underlining a bodice, you will have a bodice front piece and a bodice back piece in both garment fabric and underlining. Place the underlining right side up on your work surface and lay each garment fabric piece on top of its corresponding underlining piece. Pin around the edges and smooth out bumps and wrinkles.

How to Sew Underlining (1)

Baste around the edges of each piece. Run the stitching off the edges instead of pivoting at the corners. This helps to keep the layers smooth and stops the shifting that occurs when turning the fabric still attached to the machine.

How to Sew Underlining (2)

When you’re finished basting around the edges of all pieces, you will start working with each piece as a single layer. You can see how this is different from lining (page link), for which each layer is constructed separately and joined around the edges. Give each piece a quick press after the basting is complete.

How to Sew Underlining (3)

Sew the darts (page link) through both layers of fabric together. Measure the center of the dart along the edge and mark it. Draw a straight line from the center of the dart to the dart tip using a ruler. Don’t worry about the legs of the dart yet, just the centerline.

How to Sew Underlining (4)

Stitch a line of machine stitching along the line you just drew. This will anchor the two layers of fabric together and prevent slipping when you sew the dart. Now your dart will be perfectly even through both layers. To sew your darts, fold along this newly stitched centerline and pin.

How to Sew Underlining (5)

Draw in the dart stitching lines with a marking pen and stitch darts along the marked lines. A bonus of using underlining is that it’s easy to see markings on the solid fabric. The lines don’t get lost in the print. Press darts toward the center.

Make darts, tucks or pleats through both layers for the other garment pieces.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine