Musings from the workroom
1st March 2017
Our Guide to Linings

Choosing which lining to use when making curtains and blinds can be confusing when you are new to curtain making. Here is our guide to help you simplify your decision and explain the terminology.

We line curtains and blinds for the the following reasons:

  • Neaten the back of the curtain or blind
  • Protect the fabric from fading
  • Protect the fabric from dust
  • Sometimes protect the fabric from dirt, moisture & mould
  • Give greater thermal properties
  • Give blackout properties
  • Add body to the curtain
  • Provide structure to hold rods for a blind

Cotton or Poly Cotton?

The first real differentiator in linings is whether the lining is 100% cotton or a poly cotton (mixture of polyester & cotton). Here are the pros and cons to each type.

100% cotton
  • The traditional choice
  • Natural product
  • Goes well with natural fabrics (linen and cotton) keeping it an all natural product
  • Shrinkage
  • The more finishes applied to it the thinner it becomes
poly cotton
  • Can be cheaper
  • Less shrinkage than cotton
  • Can be denser and heavier than cotton, giving a good drape
  • Good dimensional stability
  • Better crease resistance
  • Can be shinier than cotton

100% cotton sateen has traditionally been the lining used by professional curtain makers. However in more recent times there have been great improvements in poly cotton linings. The development of these fabrics with improved weight, drape and technical properties, means they are now becoming the number one choice for many curtain makers including ourselves, switching from 100% cotton sateen to these high end poly cotton mixes.

The Weave

The weave is basically the pattern of how the warp and weft of the woven fabric are interlaced. Plain, twill and satin weave are the 3 main types of weave used making lining fabric. You will often see a Sateen lining, this is a Satin Weave cotton lining.


Plain weave is the most basic type of textile weaves where the warp and weft are aligned so they form a simple criss-cross pattern. It is strong, hard-wearing and used in furnishing fabrics.


Twill weave forms a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. Because of this structure, twill generally drapes well.


Satin weave is characterized by four or more weft yarns floating over a warp yarn or vice versa. (basically alot more fibres in one direction than the other on the face) This produces a lustrous appearance to the face side. Sateen: is a satin weave applied to a cotton fabric. The high number of threads and the density of the weave help reduce sunlight penetration and degradation of the curtain fabric. It also has a good drape and fluid movement.

Lining Weights?

Lining weights are generally described in terms of thread count (number of threads per square inch of fabric) or grams per square metre. The higher the thread count or "gsm" the denser and heavier the lining is, generally with a better drape and less translucence .

Lining Finishes

Lining may be described with the following finishes

  • Calendered - passing the fabric between rollers at high temperature and pressure to create a smoother and shinier finish
  • Schreinered - Simliar to calendering but passed between rollers engraved with fine parallel lines in order to give a silk-like gloss or luster, which is commonly known as Schreiner finish, in the Schreiner process the ribs are very fine, with as many as six hundred ribs per inch rolled under extremely high pressure. The threads are pressed flat with little lines in them, which causes the fabric to reflect the light better than a flat surface would.
  • Solprufe - a popular brand of curtain lining, known for light fastness
  • Crease resistant
  • Soil resistant
  • Teflon finish - To resist dirt, mould and moisture. A fabric protector is applied to form a molecular barrier around the fibres so they don't attract dirt or soak up wet stains, whether oil or water based.
  • DFL - "Dyed fast to light" a dye method that provides suitable colour fastness for curtain making
  • Brushed, Raised or Napped - A process of brushing the fabric usually on one side with lining to create a flannel effect
  • Flocked or microfibre finish - Adding small fibres (flock) to the surface to improve the fabrics tactile sensation and aesthetics, this is usually applied to blackout and thermal linings to make them feel less rubbery.
Do you really need to pay for a Teflon finish on a curtain etc (probably not).

Lining Colours

Some linings come in a large choice of colours but generally the standard colours used are white, ivory and cream . Note one manufacturer's cream can be completely different to anothers etc. We once changed supplier and their cream colour looked more like nicotine.

Thermal Linings

There are 2 types of thermal lining
  • Coated Lining: A lining with a coating on one side (usually acrylic) that reduces the passage of air through it. If the lining only has one coat applied to it (1 pass) then it is usually called thermal dimout lining. (a lining with 2 or 3 coats is usually called a blackout lining but will still have the same thermal qualities - see below)
  • Brushed, Raised or Napped: A heavier than normal cotton lining with a brushed (flannel finish) on one side, giving the lining a little more body and some thermal properties.(these linings are lovely and soft to the feel, but don't stop the airflow through them like a coated thermal lining)

Blackout Linings

Applying a coating to the lining fabric can increase it's thermal properties (mainly by reducing the passage of air through it) and increase it's blackout properties as well. Coated linings are usually categorised as 1,2 or 3 pass, which refers to the number of times the coating has been applied to the base fabric. Blackout linings are usually 3 pass. A one pass lining will usually be called a dim out lining. Blackout linings nowadays are often "Flocked" or have a "microfibre finish" applied to them to make them feel softer and less rubbery.

Combined Linings (bonded)

Combined linings are where either a cotton, poly cotton or blackout lining has sarille interlining bonded to the back. This creates a thick linining that can be used in a lined curtain instead of a standard lining to create a more insulated curtain*.

(*Note we do not make curtains this way in the workroom as we find they don't drape well with this kind of lining. We do however use combined blackout lining for making blackout interlined roman blinds though as we have found it to be the best solution.).

Double Width Linings

Some linings are available in a double width (approx 280cm wide). These can be useful to avoid joins in wide blinds and reduce the work involved in making a large pair of curtains (you can railroad the lining so you need no joins in either curtain).

Which Lining to use?

Most curtain makers have a preferred lining. They are generally looking for a lining that handles and drapes well in their preference of colour. You really need to touch feel and ultimately work with the linings to find which you prefer. It is always worth getting a sample before buying to check the colour, feel and translucence (cheap linging can be very see through).

Extra Help & Comments

Sandra L.
Is there a difference in the draping quality of 100% napped lining versus 50% polyester/50% cotton napped lining?

Our over fabric is 54% linen, 32% cotton and 14% polyester.
Sew Helpful
It depends on the quality and weight of your linings, we have used 50:50 in the past and it has draped really nicely.
I am making a Roman Blind for a bedroom, what Blackout would you suggest and will the stitch holes be a problem? Thank you
Sew Helpful
We usually use a combined blackout interliner sandwiched between the fabric and lining. The stab stitches can show pinpricks of light. We are making a tutorial for blackout blinds but it is not yet available.
About to start several blackout blinds. Saw on the blog you make yours differently to your standard tutorial video.
I have purchased some good quality blackout lining.
Shall I purchase standard or specific poly cotton lining along with this to act as part of the sandwich. Is it made similar to your interlined blind? Im guessing the traditional pockets are stitched into the outer lining to prevent the stitching showing the light which would otherwise happen if blackout only was used. What size do you cut the blackout? Do the sides of the blackout tuck under the proposed side seams of the blind with the outer lining on top.Slip stitched as normal. If not how does it stay in place? How do you avoid pin hole light with the stab stitches if they are going through all 3 layers? Sorry about 20 questions. Have followed the tutorials to the letter and have been pleased with the result. I have 8 blinds to make with blackout and I don't want to mess them up as the fabric is a bit expensive. Thanks in advance.
Sew Helpful
I am afraid we cant give a full set of instructions but we are in the process of remaking all the roman blind tutorials and new blackout ones.

Currently in the workshop we use combined blackout interliner or plain blackout.

We make in a similar way to interlined cutting the blackout to fit the size of the blind (inserting inside) then laying a cotton lining on  top.

You are going to get pinpricks of light from the stab stab stitching. 

A new tutorial is coming 
can blackout lining be cut in either direction? I can get 2 panels if I cut it across the width
I have some curtain fabric which has heavy embroidery on it with the detail threads on the back, which can be seen through he front fabric when holding up to the light. Do you think thermal lining will be thick enough to block out the light so you cant see it? Im never sure about using blackout lining on curtains as they don't hang as well - would you agree? Thank you.
Sew Helpful
We can't really tell you if the particular thermal lining you are using will cut the light sufficiently or not. You need to hold it up to the light with the fabric and see.

If there are threads hanging on the back of the fabric we suspect if you are not using blackout lining they will show with sunlight behind the curtain.

Here is an embroidered interlining curtain example (note it was a high quality fabric so there were no threads hanging on the back of the fabric to cause a problem)

Embroidered Curtain 2

Embroidered Curtain 1

Your Question or Comment

Adding comments has been disabled.