Recently updated on April 5th, 2023
What if you forgot to purchase lining fabric when you started a sewing project? You might be wondering whether you can line the garment with the muslin fabric you already own. There are some types of garments that can be stitched, fortunately. Cotton or linen dresses and skirts can be lined with muslin. Suit jackets and pants, however, shouldn’t be lined with muslin. For garment linings, always use muslin (such as mull fabric) that is soft, light- to medium-weight, and prewash it before cutting it to avoid shrinkage.
Keep reading to understand more about muslin, lining, pros, and cons. SewingWithEase will answer your questions.
What is muslin?
The fabric muslin is made of cotton and has a plain weave. Various weights are available, ranging from delicate sheers to coarse sheeting. First manufactured in the Iraqi city of Mosul, it is named after that city. The most delicate muslins were produced in Bengal in the 17th and 18th centuries.
If you are interested in the history of the sewing machine, we already wrote it for you in another post.
Pros and cons of lining with muslin
In addition to its many benefits, muslin fabric can also be used to line garments. Among them are:
- Relatively inexpensive – Typically, lightweight muslin costs $3-7 per yard, making it one of the cheapest natural fiber fabrics. The lining fabric is basically free to sewists since they already have a bolt of muslin in their stash.
- Machine-washable – Using muslin fabric to line a cotton garment allows you to wash it all at once. You will likely have to dry clean your garment if you line it with silk.
- Soft and breathable – This loose-weave cotton fabric is very breathable because of its loose weave.
- No static – Cotton muslin produces no static, unlike polyester, another low-cost lining fabric.
- Easy to sew – Sewing, cutting, and pressing muslin fabric are easy tasks. On the other hand, silk lining fabrics will shift during cutting and sewing, making construction more challenging.
- Dyes well – Muslin fabric is no exception to the rule of cotton fabrics taking dye well. The muslin can then be dyed to match the fashion fabric color.
However, lining a garment with muslin fabric has a few downsides, including:
- Not slippery – In addition to its slightly rough texture, muslin fabric clings to other clothes. However, the smooth hand of silk and polyester allows them to glide more smoothly over the body.
- Wrinkles easily – Be prepared to iron your final lined garment frequently, as cotton muslin is a natural fiber that wrinkles relatively easily.
- Shrinkage – Wash cotton muslin fabric first before cutting and sewing the lining, as it shrinks when washed.
In comparing muslin fabric to other lining fabrics like silk, polyester, and rayon, these properties should be considered when lining a garment.
What types of clothes can you line with muslin?
Cotton or linen dresses lined with muslin make excellent casual summer dresses. Even in hot weather, the muslin’s breathability keeps the wearer cool, and its softness is good against the skin. Adding the muslin to the bodice of a dress, which is typically quite structured and close-fitting, may also add some needed stiffness. This is particularly important in strapless dresses, which have stiff bodices held up by channels stitched into the dress’s lining or interlining.
Consider lining only the bodice with muslin and lining the skirt with silk crepe de Chine or polyester lining fabric, rather than leaving it unlined. In many cases, people find it more comfortable to wear a skirt lined with a slippery fabric so that it glides over their legs.
The lining of tailored jackets, pants, and coats should not be made of muslin. This is because most people want tailored garments to glide smoothly over their bodies, which can only be achieved by using a slippery lining like silk crepe de Chine or charmeuse (instead of muslin, which has a rough texture that clings to undergarments). Workwear and eveningwear are more appropriate for silk fabrics since they give a more luxurious look and feel.
Also, muslin fabric should not be used to line stretch garments. T-shirts and jersey dresses fall into this category, as do any garments made of knit fabric (such as lycra or spandex, which are typically used in activewear). Due to its lack of stretch, muslin should not be used to line garments made from stretch fabrics.
Following is a table listing the types of garments that can be lined with muslin:
|Garment||Line with muslin?||Notes|
|Casual dress with a full skirt||Yes||So the skirt glides smoothly over the legs, line the bodice with muslin, and line the skirt with silk crepe de chine.|
|Casual shift or sheath dress||Yes||Make sure the entire dress is lined with muslin (both the bodice and skirt).|
|Strapless dress||Yes||Line the bodice with muslin.|
|Suit jackets and pants||No||The lining should be made of a slippery fabric such as Bemberg lining, silk crepe de Chine, or silk charmeuse.|
|Tailored wool coats||No||The lining should be made of a slippery fabric such as Bemberg lining, silk crepe de Chine, or silk charmeuse.|
|Garments made out of stretchy fabric||No||Use a lightweight stretch fabric (such as tricot or jersey knit) for the lining.|
You can read our post for all the different sewing terms we face every day.
What type of muslin should I use to line garments?
Muslin, like mull, should have a soft hand and a nice drape. Use a loosely woven, light- to medium-weight muslin. Unbleached or bleached muslin works well (the bleached version looks a bit more polished). When you are making a garment, avoid stiff, heavy-weight muslin, as it will affect the drape of the garment and make it feel stiff and scratchy. A strapless dress may benefit from a stiffer-hand muslin for lining its bodice, which is the only exception.
When sewing up the lining, always prewash the muslin fabric before cutting and sewing it. A garment’s lining will likely shrink the first time it is washed if it has not been prewashed.
What else can I use muslin for when sewing garments?
A great way to add structure to garments is to use muslin as interfacing. During the construction of tailored jackets and coats, muslin fabric can be used for the backstay (which stabilizes the shoulder area) and the chest shield (which gives the body to the upper chest area of the garment).
Fabrics that need more structure can also be underlined with muslin. After sewing the muslin fabric to the fashion fabric, construct your garment as one piece. In addition to pocket bags, muslin can also be used to make pockets with a bit of structure.
Can muslin be used as a lining?
There are a few guidelines to follow when using muslin as a lining with most clothing items. In order for fabrics to flow and glide smoothly, muslin is the best choice. It should be washed before being used as a lining. You should preshrink the item once it has been washed and dried.
What fabric should you use for the lining?
Acetate, silk, viscose, and rayon are the best fabrics for linings. Any type of clothing requiring a lining can use these linings. You can also use cotton or polyester for linings, depending on the type of clothing you are making.
While there are many benefits of using muslin fabric to line garments, there are also a few drawbacks. Muslin is a reasonably delicate fabric that can tear easily, so it’s not ideal for garments with a lot of wear and tear. It’s also not as absorbent as some other fabrics, so it’s not the best choice for lining garments that are likely to get sweaty or wet. Overall, muslin is an excellent choice for lining garments that you want to look extra polished and professional, but it’s not the most durable fabric out there.
When you finish this article, check out our other article on free sewing patterns for pants and trousers.