How to Line a Sleeveless Top or Bodice

How to Line a Top

Here are our top tips for sewing a lined top or bodice to achieve a truly professional finish. We're sure all the tips we share will be useful, but there is a particularly juicy, little known trick of the trade we're sharing with you! This little gem will will allow you to complete the task without any hand stitching. Sounds good right? Then let us enlighten you...

If you're taking the time to line a garment you might as well do it really well. The lining shouldn't be visible and should sit neatly behind the main fabric. There really is nothing worse than lining riding up and bulging over the top of the main fabric - not a good look daaahling! I have even known this to happen with clothes bought from high street stores in the past and not just the cheap ones may I add (!) Follow our top tips below and see your lovingly handmade attire rise above and beyond the mass produced high street clobber with a super professional finish.

Before attaching the lining ensure all seams on the top/bodice and the lining have been well pressed. Throughout our how to guides and top tips articles our mantra is always to press well, press often. Press every seam as you go along and never leave it until the end. Now lay your top/bodice right side up on your work surface and pin your lining onto it (right sides together of course) A useful tip here is to position and pin the seams together first to make sure everything is in it’s right place then pin around the arm and neck holes (NB: this photo was taken mid pinning and therefore the neck hasn’t been pinned yet!) Leaving the side and back seams open machine stitch all the way around the neck and arm holes.  Most sewing pattern instructions and books will tell you to machine stitch the neck and arm holes followed by the side seams then hand stitch the shoulders, but follow our guidance and you can use your machine for the whole shebang!

Lined Top Pinned

Once the main fabric and lining are pinned together neatly trim the excess fabric around the neck and armholes to about ⅜" or 9mm then trim the lining back slightly shorter so that you have a layered effect as demonstrated in the picture below. Once you have a neat layered effect around the arm and neck holes add small snips from the edge of the excess fabric towards and almost up to the seam line. These two ticks will mean the fabric lies flatter once pressed and will give a much more professional finish than if you miss these steps out.

Lined Top Fig. 2

Now it is time for the clever bit...on one side of the top/bodice place one hand between the main fabric and the lining and towards the shoulder of the top/bodice. Use the other hand to push the lining from the opposite side of the garment through the gap that you’ll find between the lining and the main fabric at the shoulder. Push the lining through the gap with one hand pulling it out of the other side with the other hand. Keep working the lining through until it has completely passed through the gap and out of the other side. One side of your garment will now be the right way out with the shoulder seams neatly and expertly sewn by your lovely machine. Repeat the process on the other side and hey presto!



Next, to avoid the bulging lining effect we talked about at the start of the article we’ve got one last little gem of sewing advice for you and this is to sew what is called an understitch as far as you can around the neck and arm holes. Gently pull the lining and main fabric apart ensuring the excess fabric beneath lies on the lining side and stitch about ⅛" or 3mm from the edge of the lining as far as you can along the arm and neck holes. This will encourage the lining to stay in place especially once you’ve given it a good pressing!

Once you've pressed the shoulders, arm and neck holes sew your side seams and press then turn the top/bodice the right way round. It is now useful to sew a few stitches - just three or four -  in the side seam line under the arm hole and this will also help to keep everything neatly in place.

Your top/bodice is now expertly lined and all that remains is for you to sew the back seam or insert the zip/fastenings you have chosen depending on the design of your garment.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these handy tips, there are plenty more where these came from and we’ll keep sharing them on the blog to help you to achieve a truly professional finish every time. All you need to do now is work out how to avoid looking too smug when the first person says ‘I love that top, where did you get it from?’

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