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Nerdy sewing tips: Understitching

Understitching is an often forgotten yet highly effective technique that prevents linings and facings from poking out to the outside of a garment. Best of all, understitching is quick to do and easy to master, resulting in an effortlessly professional finish!

What you need:

  • A garment that has either a lining or facing to be attached to the shell eg. the neckline facing on the Anna Dress; the bodice lining on the Georgia Dress.

To illustrate the understitching process, we have two pieces of scrap fabric - the red print represents the main shell fabric, the white represents the lining or facing.

To prepare for understitching, you'll need to go ahead and join your shell and lining/facing pieces together as normal - right sides together and with 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance.

Now, if you were to forego the understitching and simply press your seam, you would probably have a neckline that looks a little like this - neatly sewn and pressed, but with the lining/facing fabric ever so slightly on show (and with time and wear and washing would become more pronounced):

Understitching will fix this! Here's how:

First things first, remember to clip/notch any curves before understitching!

Open out your seam and press the excess seam allowance towards the lining/facing. Pin the seam allowance into place to the lining/facing.

Staying as close as possible to the seam line, no more than a few mm, sew a line of stitching parallel to the seam, essentially stitching the seam allowance to the lining/facing.

Now press your lining/facing to the inside.

Your lining/facing should now stay nice and flat, preventing it from rolling out to the front.

All done! Another nerdy sewing technique in the bag. 




Comments on this post (13)

  • Feb 04, 2016

    Hi Sherry, it definitely sounds like this dress could have done with some understitching to help keep that lining from poking out! If it’s too much of a hassle to access the guts of the dress in order to understitch the neckline yourself, I would suggest securing the lining to the shell along the neckline with a few strategically placed hand stitches to tack it down as opposed to topstitching the whole thing. Hope this helps!

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Feb 02, 2016

    Recently bought a prom dress for my daughter. The dress was on sale at such a rate that I could not have bought 1/10 of the material to make it myself. However, the lining in the cups are rolling up over the exterior fabric. Not terribly so but enough to warrant a fix. I can not topstitch the cups as I would lose the design of the dress. Any thoughts on this repair?

    — Sherry Fraser

  • Aug 15, 2014

    Thank you, really clear and simple. I didn’t understand the Colette explanation either!

    — Lynne

  • Jul 10, 2014

    Thanks so much for this clear explanation – the clearest I could find. I didn’t understand the colette explanation or the sewaholic explanation but I understood yours right away. :)

    — Rebecca

  • Mar 08, 2014

    Hi Helen, yes you got it! If you look at the 5th image down from the top, the seam line is the one on the left, and the understitching is the one on the right x

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Mar 08, 2014

    Is the understitching row the one closer to the raw edge?

    — Helen

  • Feb 27, 2014

    Thank you for the tip and explanation! This will be super useful not only on the gown I am making right now, but on a lot of future projects.

    — Birgit

  • Feb 27, 2014

    Hi Rachel Booth – if you serge your seams (as we usually do), just go ahead and serge as normal after stitching your seam, then press and understitch :)

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Feb 27, 2014

    Thanks! So helpful!

    What about if you serge your seams? How / when do you under stitch?

    — Rachel Booth

  • Feb 26, 2014

    I’m a really lazy sewer and I cut a lot of corners but I always understitch. I was flabbergasted when I saw GBSB last week that anyone would skip the understitching -why??!! When I told my mum about it she just shook her head gravely. We are understitching geeks!

    — Bec

  • Feb 26, 2014

    Ohh! I get it now! I think all of this time I have been doing it wrong! Edgestitching maybe? Now if we could keep the facing from having to be ironed after the wash… ;)

    — Kristin lion

  • Feb 26, 2014

    Thanks! I’m making a Georgia right now and will try this tip!


    — Rachel

  • Feb 26, 2014

    Ever since GBSB last week, I wondered how to understitch! Thanks for such a clear tutorial. I’ll definitely do this for now on.

    — Pretty Florals

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