With simple sewing skills, you can add an elegant touch to tailored hand knit garments like coats, jackets, and skirts by lining them. Although lining hand knit garments is a personal choice, linings provide stability, retention of shape, warmth, prevent sagging, provide longer wear, and make it easier to slip items on and off.
The good news is linings used in hand knits are less structured than the ones used for woven fabrics, so they only require simple sewing skills. I’m just going to describe the basic procedure, assuming you have the skills to cut pattern pieces and stitch them together.
The lining material you choose depends on the garment or project. Typically linings are made from a slippery fabric made from yarns such as rayon, acetate, or polyester. The lining fabric can be a matching color or a contrasting one. Contrasting colors or patterns add visual interest inside coats and jackets. Keep in mind that most linings don’t stretch, so it will restrict the stretchiness of the knit fabric. Some stretch can be created by cutting the lining on the bias (a line diagonal [ideally 45 degrees] to the grain of the fabric). Although uncommon, I have a knit skirt that uses a rayon knit fabric as the lining, so the stretch is maintained. It’s best that the lining and knit fabric require the same type of care, either laundered or drycleaned.
Cutting the lining pieces is pretty much making a duplicate of the knit piece. Use blocked knit pieces (before seaming) to make the lining pattern. Make the pattern by tracing the knit piece on brown paper or purchased pattern paper (lightweight tracing paper). Add approximately 5/8 inch seam allowance around the edges, with a larger seam allowance (about 2 inches) for lower hems. Cut out the lining pieces and seam them together before attaching the lining to the seamed knit garment. Attach the wrong side of lining with seam allowances to the seamed side of knit garment.
- Use only hand stitching to attach the lining to the knit fabric.
- To check fit, baste the lining together and place inside garment. Adjust if necessary, then sew lining together and stitch in place.
- Stitch the lining pieces with right sides together before attaching the lining. Attach the wrong side of lining with seam allowances to the seamed knit garment.
- For coats and jackets, make a 2 inch pleat in the center back for ease in wearing. Tack the pleat in 1 or 2 places a few inches down from the neck edge.
- For coats or jackets, you can stitch the lining to shoulder seams, and slip stitch around the neck and front edges. The sleeve armhole seams of the lining can be tacked in place around the seamed armhole of knit fabric. Stitch the cuff hem to lower edge of knit sleeve.
- Lower edges (hems and cuffs) should be hemmed at least one inch shorter than the finished length of the garment, so the lining doesn’t show when worn.
- Skirt linings should be large enough to allow you to put the skirt on, but fitted enough so there is no extra bulk.
- Skirt lining can be attached to the top edge, so it becomes part of the casing, or you could hem the top edge and attach just below the casing.
- For ease of movement side slits can be made in the skirt lining; measured up from lower edge; finishing the slits before hemming the lining.
These are just the basics for adding lining to your hand knits. Lining a coat, jacket or skirt adds an elegant touch, and a professional finish to a garment you spent many hours knitting. It only requires some basic sewing skills and a little time; well worth it!