I run, I craft, I write, and I make your favorite clothes.

I have written books about sewing for children and adults and I'm the indie designer’s patternmaking secret weapon. I've taught video and in-person classes to anyone who would listen since 2008. I believe that sewing clothes is a radical act of self-love that increases your sense of self-worth. I'm basically your sewing fairy godmother.

LiningPinIt Today’s tutorial was inspired by a question I get regularly: how can I stitch a partial lining to enclose all the seams?

In grown-up sized clothing it’s a little tricky to explain, but really easy to do once you know how.  In fact, Rae put together a little video series for her Washi Dress pattern last summer. (start at 3:00 for the sleeve portion).  While it’s possible to use this technique with the larger sizes of little girl clothing, the process becomes trickier as the sizes get smaller.

In order to accommodate the small-to-tiny size range, it’s really fast (and satisfying) to hand-stitch the lining to the sleeve and bodice seam allowances.  Enclosing the seam allowances not only makes the garment more comfortable by protecting sensitive skin from seam allowances, it increases the durability of the garment, because the seams are also protected to stay strong through hundreds of wash and dry cycles.  It’s how I keep my hard work from literally unraveling.

The dress used in the photos is the Sally Dress from Shannon Cook, which I made in yarn-dyed Essex Linen in Leather and the Rani print from Monaluna’s Raaga collection, which I L.O.V.E.

1.Stitch a 1/2″ seam allowance on the armhole edge of the lining, using a machine basting stitch in a contrasting color. (as you can see, I trimmed the main fabric sleeve seam allowance with  pinking shears)

2.Clip into the lining seam allowance right up to the basting stitch.

3.Fold the clipped seam allowances to the wrong side of the lining, using the stitching line as a guide.  Pin in place to enclose the sleeve seam allowances.


4. Thread a needle with a single length of thread and tie a knot.  Begin your stitching by hiding the knotted end underneath the underarm sleeve seam allowances.

5. Slipstitch right on the seam line, connecting the fold of the lining with the seam allowance of the sleeve/bodice seam (but do not stitch through the sleeve itself)

6. When you have sewn all around the armhole and you arrive back at the underarm seam, slide the needle underneath the seam allowance.

7. Then tie a knot, no, make it three knots.  One on top of the other, then trim the tail (to stay hidden and protected in the wash, and to stay off of that sweet kid’s skin!)


8. Snip the basting thread (see why I used a contrast basting thread?) and pull it out.

9. Voila! Press the seam and admire your work.  Repeat for the remaining arm opening.


I know a lot of sewists shun hand-stitching these days, but this tiny bit of stitching takes me less time to complete than it takes to walk downstairs and turn on my sewing machine.  There’s also something about hand-stitching that connects me to the things I make; physically and sentimentally.  Try this a couple times (the first time always seems more difficult – call it practice) and see if you don’t secretly enjoy it just a little.


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  • Shelly September 26, 2013, 6:46 pm

    As always this is a great tutorial!


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