Underlining Fabrics: Definition and Meaning

It’s common to be perplexed by the distinctions between lining, underlining, and interlining because sewing terminology can be difficult to understand. You’ve probably stitched a standard lining before. It is a layer that sits between the main fabric and your skin, conceals seams, makes your body look smooth, and is sewn into sleeve and neck openings to give the garment a flawless interior finish. It usually hangs loosely at the hem.

On the other hand, underlining is a fabric layer that is attached to your fashion cloth using basting to make both layers function as one. You still have raw seams that need to be completed in some fashion because they don’t cover or conceal anything. An underlining does not take the place of a lining, and for the majority of applications, a lining is still necessary to produce a neat finish. Similar to an underlining, an interlining is used primarily to give warmth.

What is Underlining Fabrics?

An underlying is a layer of cloth that you treat as if it were the main fabric. You effectively make your own 2-ply fabric with underlining. You have more control over textiles and usage options with this versatile approach. Prior to construction, the underlining is attached and cut from the same pattern pieces as the fashion cloth. The underlying and fashion fabrics are then handled as a single unit during the construction of the garment. Underlining is typically cut from silk organza, light- to medium-weight cotton broadcloth, or fine cotton batiste. But you may also use a range of additional materials to highlight a trendy fabric.

In a garment, underlining serves a variety of purposes. It allows you to use a fabric that might be too flimsy on its own for the garment you have in mind because it gives lightweight materials structure and strength and lessens wrinkling. Seam allowances cannot be seen in white or pastel textiles thanks to underlining, which lessens their transparency. It can cover panty lines and take away the shadow from a vividly coloured shirt tucked into a pair of light-colored slacks. Additionally, underlining stabilises loosely woven fabrics and hides hand stitching because it is the only material that captures the hand stitches and not the fashion fabric.


There are numerous ways that underlining may improve your sewing work. Underlining serves a variety of functions, including helping to give loosely woven fabrics body and stability, as well as adding structure to fabrics that may be too light or drapey for the intended use. It also helps to make transparent fabrics opaque or change the colour of the fashion fabric depending on the colour of the underlining fabric, as well as helping to conceal “show through” of seam allowances, seam lines, and other construction details. It provides a layer to secure hand stitching so that these stitches are invisible from the right side of the garment (i.e., catch stitching seam allowances in place), it minimises wrinkling since the fabric is bulked up, it can add warmth to garments by introducing a second layer, it adds strength, and it acts as a base for all construction marks so you don’t need to mark your fashion fabric.

How is it Different from Lining?

Underlining is a layer of fabric that is applied to the interior of the garment; it is not created independently, hangs rigidly, or encloses any inner construction. Lining differs from underlining. In order for the two fabrics to function as one throughout the manufacturing process and for the duration of the life of the garment, underlining is simply the linking of each piece of your fashion fabric with a “backing” fabric while it is still flat. Since the two fabrics end up interacting as if they were one, the underlining does not enclose or conceal the construction features. If you wanted a neat enclosed finish inside, you would still need to add a lining to something that has been underlined, just like you would to any other garment.

Types of Underlining Materials

To emphasize, a variety of textiles can be used; the one you choose will be determined by the task. Generally speaking, you want something that is a little bit lighter than your fabric, and you need to make sure that the colour matches or doesn’t show through your fashion fabric. The most typical varieties are listed below

Silk Organza

Silk organza is a wonder material that functions fantastically as an underpinning. Silk organza is an excellent material to lend body to clothing since it is thin, translucent, and has a sharp but flexible hand. Because there is still some fluidity in the sharpness, it will conform to the fabric and your body. You should never substitute polyester for silk organza because it lacks the same flexibility and breathability and doesn’t press as well. You should also be careful about the quality because some silk organzas are slick and less stable.


Flannel is a terrific choice to provide warmth to a garment or a soft layer to your fashion fabric because it is soft and cuddly (great for drapey fabrics like silk).

Cotton Batiste

It is a fantastic standard option for the majority of underlying applications because it is lightweight, soft, and semi-sheer.

Cotton Broadcloth or Muslin

It is a little stiffer than batiste, making it ideal for garments that require a more structured shape, like a jacket, or that need to conceal interior construction features, like boning. You can technically use the muslin you used for your toile as your underlining if you used a properly weighted muslin fabric, but you can only do this if you don’t intend to make the garment again.

Crepe de Chine

It helps in enhancing sheer, light, or drapey materials, which is beneficial.


To sum up, an underlying structure can give a garment body by changing how the fabric functions. Clothes with underlining are stronger and last longer. Underlining strengthens, lessens wrinkles, and assists in absorbing sweat. It can increase warmth, keep materials from being handled excessively while being constructed, and make a mediocre cloth appear and stitch like an expensive fabric. By adding an underlining, you can give your fabric more of the qualities you love about other fabrics while also improving the comfort, appearance, and lifespan of your clothing.

Updated on: 10-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started