Tuesday, 4 October 2011

'Bagging' Tutorial: How to sew lining in sleeveless dress bodice.

The first time I attempted to line a sleeveless dress myself, I did so following this great tutorial by The Slapdash Sewist.

I have been using this technique for ever and it is a very easy way to achieve a clean machine finish - no handsewing at all! 

Here are some photos I took while I was lining my dress and an attempt at a tutorial.

1) Start by sewing the dress fabric bodice together as per pattern instructions, joining the back and front bodice by the shoulder only. Do not sew the side seams on dress fabric.

2) Sew the lining of the bodice the same way. Do not sew the side seams on lining.

3) Join the dress fabric and lining together at the neck whole and arm holes, making sure the RIGHT sides of the fabric are facing together. See pic below.

Pin the dress fabric and lining together at the neck whole and arm holes. Do not pin the sides!

4) Sew the dress fabric and lining together as pinned. Trim off your seam allowance and clip your curves!!

5) Reverse the bodice to the right side by pulling the two back bodice pieces through the shoulders.

Pulling the two back bodice pieces through the shoulders.
Bodice is now reversed and seams are now on the inside.
Bodice should look like this, with the neck and arm circles sewed up but side seams still open. 
Now is a good time to understitch!

6) Now we pin the side sides. Pin the 'back' and front' bodice dress fabric together and do the same for the lining. After you pin the seams, you should be able to flip the dress fabric over the lining and the seams should be in between the two fabrics.

After pinning, stitch down the side seams.
After you pin/sew the seams, you should be able to flip the dress fabric over the lining and the seams should be in between the two fabrics. Arm hole should be joined now.
Clean machine... 
Completed dress blogged here!

Here is a list of other online tutorials and helpful information that I have come across during my sewing adventure:


  1. You're right - that's a great tutorial for that skill.

  2. I made a mistake when this, I also sewed the side seams when I sewed the armholes.
    Had to go back and unpick!

    1. The first time I followed The Slapdash Sewists tutorial, I did it wrong and sewed the side seams of the lining and fabric together!
      As of September 3rd 2012 I have updated the post with correct instructions and photos for tutorial.

  3. Hi all!
    Just realised that I disabled comments on this post. Sorry about that!!
    Please continue leaving comments, questions :)

  4. Been searching for days how to line a bodice and yours is by far the best explained thank you so much x

  5. Hi there,
    This seem like a really great, easy to follow tutorial. However I was wondering if you have any tips on how to do this to a bodice that has a side zip that starts 2 inches below the arm hole?
    Any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. Hi Tara,

      The bodice would need to still have a centre back seam for this bagging method to work.

      I would "bag" the bodice following these instructions.

      If your garment has a zipper to the side, I would sew up one side seam and the centre back seam (same method as tutorial).

      For the side seam that will have the zipper inserted, I would pin the whole side seam as if I was going to sew it up, but I will only sew it up 4inches (2 inches of the lining, 2 inches of the shell fabric), leaving most of the side seam open so you can insert the zipper.

      Hope this makes sense?

    2. Thanks! That makes sense...now to find some time to try it out. :-)

  6. I KNEW that there had to be an easier, better way to line a sleeveless top/dress, but I just couldn't envision it myself...thank you so much for such clear instructions and photos!

    1. Hi Meemee, I hope this post has been helpful, it's not the best photographs to demonstrate, but every little bit helps.
      The instructions in commercial patterns is so much more complicated than the 'bagging' method. Good luck!!

  7. I am so glad I found this tutorial! I am making a debutant dress for my daughter and the instructions on the burda pattern were very unhelpful. And with my sewing mum living 7 hours away I just couldn't work out by myself how to do join the lining to the bodice. So thank you, thank you! Susan.

    1. Hello!! I'm glad this helped! Sometimes you need to read different versions of the SAME technique for it to make sense :)

  8. Love this tutorial, it's even booked marked on my phone for easy access whilst I'm using the sewing machine to remind myself what gets attached to what when lining a dress. I've linked you here http://mel-allwrappedup.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/salme-sonja-dress.html and also in a few other posts.

    Happy Crafting,

    1. Hi Mel!! I'm glad this has helped, hopefully my explanation is clear. Thank you for linking back to me :):)

  9. Thanks so much. Your guide was by far the easiest and least confusing I've come across. Do you recommend understitching the sides, too?

    1. Thanks babe :)
      I don't think under-stitching the sides is necessary as it doesn't have potential to "roll out" like the neck and arm holes :)

  10. Thanks for this, it was really helpful to see it all laid out. Definitely necessary to clip and press the seams, I thought I'd messed up until I did that because it looked so awful! One question though, I understitched the neckline then sewed the armholes, but it seems impossible to understitched the arm holes because the shoulder bit is a tube and you can't get just the lining and seams under the machine. Do you have to sew the armholes before the neckline to be able to understitch?

  11. Thanks for the great tutorial but can you explain how one deals with the back seam when lining a bodice with two back pieces. I want an opening that extends about 3 inches down from the neck, but just cannot figure out how to join the centre back seams. Your help would be most appreciated. Thank you.

  12. Thanks! Great tutorial and it really helped me get my mind around lining the bodice!

  13. how would this work witha fullh dress, not just a bodice, I want to line a pinafore, and then insert a lapped zip.


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