Tutorial: Lining Your Costumes, Why do it?

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Hello everyone! I know it has been awhile since I posted anything other than events and for that I am very sorry. We have so many of you in the International cosplay scene that I feel I have been neglectful. Will you forgive this little cosplayer for such an oversight?

I'm currently (still) editing footage for 2 wig tutorials. One is on cutting and the other is on styling. I know there are other tutorials out there for this, but I have some new and different information. So, coming soon... I hope.

On to something useful!

Let me preface this by explaining WHY you should consider this often overlooked step when constructing (or improving your existing) cosplay costumes. When you line a garment it does a few important things:

1. It extends the life of the item, considerably. It is much easier to repair (or replace) a lining than to fix a worn area of the outer fabric/armor.

2. It makes the garment slide on and off more easily. Again, extending its life, minimizing the possibility of ripping or seams coming undone.

3. It allows the garment to lie in a "relaxed" position on your body. This goes back to sliding on and off. A lining gives the garment some "wiggle room" so it doesn't bunch and crease when you move around and pose and perform.

4. It makes just about EVERYTHING more comfortable. You may think the extra layer is going to be too hot for summer conventions, but BELIEVE ME, it isn't. You don't have any raw edges or bias tape prodding you when you're in costume, and it makes the whole experience more wearable.

5. All else aside, it makes your costumes look completely finished. It shows you put in the time to make an item that you expect to wear multiple times and that you are proud of it. Think of it like a billboard of your work- you only NEED to paint 1 side to advertise how cool you are... but a really GOOD billboard is going to be painted on BOTH sides.


To drag this point home, I'm going to use one of my own costumes as an example. Cosplaying Grell is one of my loves in life. I love swinging my hips and wearing those impossible heels. The teeth are pretty awesome too.
As Grell I get a LOT of compliments... and just about as many questions. Everyone wants to know about the coat... because it isn't your typical Sutcliff trench. First, it is fitted (it IS supposed to be a women) and second, it is made of a considerably heavier material than basic cotton (again, it is a COAT).   
With it being worn low on the arm, such a coat would have a tendency to bunch up and not sway properly when walking. That... just won't do. It has a lovely black bow at the back that just begs for attention and when in character, Grell moves like a lady. It's a hip thing! So, there needs to be considerations made for those things.

SO, to make sure the coat moves with me, hangs correctly over my arms, and just generally looks awesome, it is completely lined. I would almost go so far as to say the coat is LESS constricting and hot with the lining- and the area around the neck (which would be the most likely point of failure, given how it is worn) is in absolutely perfect shape.

Conversely for this costume, my waistcoat is NOT lined. Why not? Laziness... and let me tell you,, it shows. If you look at my gallery you can find images like:

redyume.deviantart.com/art/Ani… (The Limelite) VS redyume.deviantart.com/art/Ani… (Red Death) <--- Properly TUGGED down into place.

Looks pretty good, right? No... it doesn't. The photographer did their job- but I did not do mine. Throughout the WHOLE shoot I was tugging at my waistcoat to keep it DOWN. It bunched, it rode, it pulled and it generally was a major pain in the ass. That, and it looks like I have breasts. Being a girl, in theory- yeah, I have them, but I was completely bound, tied and taped... that is the waistcoat bunching just right- or rather, just WRONG enough to make it look like I have curves which I responsibly got RID of. In shoots since that one I have taken to TACKING IT DOWN... and even then have only had moderate success (I still pull at it.. a lot). SO, I have constructed a new waistcoat which is lined (and more accurate) and will be wearing it to the SoCal gathering on Saturday. After wearing it around the house for a test drive, I have decided that yes, it will be MUCH easier to work with. Less bunching, less tugging, more Grell.


Now that I have talked your ears off with my blah blah blah, ON TO THE ACTUAL TUTORIAL!

No wait... one more thing to note.

I'm sure a lot of you are about to scream that you don't have a pattern to line your costume, that is just CAME unlined, or that it is REALLY fitted and you're afraid lining it is going to mess with the mojo. Worry not, lining doesn't take HALF the amount of effort of actual costume construction and it is fairly "plug and play" with costume items you may have bought (I recommend sewing, practice practice!). OK, onward for real this time.

For those who DO have a pattern for the costume piece they would like to line, just cut out the pieces as if you were going to make another coat/shirt/vest whatever and go to town. You want to use lining material if you can. I have seen it made in acetate, polyester, and silk. I do NOT recommend satin- it frays a LOT,is hard to work with, and is HOTTER THAN SIN. You want a material that is thin and smooth. Just look inside any store bought coat and see what they used. You want something like that. =)
With your patterned goodness, assuming you are adding this to an already completed piece:

1. Turn your garment inside out.
2. Take your completed (sewn) lining, and place it over your inside out garment.
3. Pull sleeves through so it looks like you garment is wearing the lining as a coat. Raw edges of garment should be facing the raw edges of the lining. Meaning the GOOD side of the lining is facing OUTWARD.
4. Trim if necessary, loosely pin around the edges and sew. I like to sew my linings into my seam allowances so there is no outer seam, but it is up to you. Use your best judgment.
5. Your lining should be LOOSE. That is your wiggle room, don't be afraid of it! When you are wearing your costume, you won't see any imperfections in the lining or that is a little baggy or wrinkled or whatever. Once all sewn in you won't even notice when you're LOOKING at it. It is... magic.

What do you do it you DON'T have a pattern? Or the garment you want to line isn't a typical shape. No problem... but one thing at a time.

1. If you don't have a pattern for this, but you DO have some sort of basic shirt pattern that fits you- use it and trim to fit your needs. Linings aren't rocket science, I promise.

2. If that isn't going to work for you, then you have a bit of a project ahead- but I ASSURE you the results will be worth it. It may take a bit more fabric, but you'll get there. Turn your garment inside out and try to get the general shapes traced onto the lining fabric. Leave yourself a couple inches on each side to play with then trim to fit and sew as with a pattern. (Really exact... I know, but it's a lining. It doesn't need to be absolutely perfect and too big is better than too small.)

For the visually inclined or for those who can't wade through my long winded and excessively wordy explanations, here are a couple of links which helped me when I was wracking my brain over the whole process.

kittycouture.blogspot.com/2007… (Coat Lining)<----- My favorite and -----> www.kitchencountereconomics.co… (Another Coat Lining)

(WOW, this entry is getting long. Sorry guys- just trying to explain as people kinda have turned their nose up at lining things.)

Happy threads guys!!
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anonymous's avatar
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DesolatePheonix's avatar
It means you put a second layer of fabric on the inside of your clothing, so that you don't see the raw edges of hem.

And as far as I go, Yume, I agree! I ALWAYS line ALL my costumes. Mostly for the durability factor, but in situations like my own Grell, I refused to even MAKE it without a lining. I couldn't afford to line it with he fabric I wanted to, but it still had a lining. The thing I need help with is what to use for the trim? I plan on remaking my jacket, I didn't terribly like how it came out, and it's slightly too small for me.
Corodo's avatar
I read this but im still confused
what does it mean to "line"?
RedYume's avatar
Here is the direct definition from "The Sewing Dictionary": Lining.

But the long and short of it, is it is a sewing term used to describe the fabric that goes on the inside of the garment to make it easier to put on and take off, make the garment more durable, and to give a finished look on the interior. If you look at any commercially sewn coats, blazers, and high quality dresses- these will all usually have linings.
Corodo's avatar
im trying to imagine what you're saying...isnt it also the second layer of fabric used along with the outside piece to make it more comfortable?
RedYume's avatar
Corodo, it is basic sewing lingo. I'm sure your mother knows what it is. Click either one of the tutorial links if you aren't sure, or check the definition I sent in the last comment.
Corodo's avatar
i did check the link and despite it being common lingo, your tutorial was the first time i've ever heard of the word. XD
Corodo's avatar
...yeah...everything i know about sewing was never taught to me directly, i asked about it
i see things sure, but its not like im fully immersed in the whole world of costume-making where i know all the technical terminology
So my knowledge is sadly limited, hindering what i can do ^^;

btw, did you ever read my poems? you asked me to post them
RedYume's avatar
Im pretty sure I commented on the poems you posted awhile back when you posted them . =)
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