I see many clothes for sale on eBay and on websites that don’t look quite right. Long ballgowns that proudly say, “Fully lined!” Then you look at the full skirt, and instead of falling and flowing gracefully, it puckers up around the bottom and looks stiff. It is because in a doll dress, even for a large doll, there is not enough weight in the fabric to make it fall gracefully once you bulk it up with a lining. In a person dress this would not be a problem, because there would be a couple of yards of fabric to hang down. On a doll dress, there is only 10″ or so!
Pride in “Fully lining” clothes is a leftover from many years ago, when fabrics were NOT colorfast, and on a person, body perspiration could ruin clothing, so high quality garments for PEOPLE were often “fully lined”, an important thing.
The other reason for “fully lining” is to allow a nice finish on a fine fabric, at the neck and perhaps the sleeves, and for the garment closure. If I make a silk dress with a scooped neck for a Cissy doll, the only really classy way to finish it is to line the BODICE. If the sleeves are sheer, I may also line them, for a fine finish at the bottom. Instead of lining the skirt, though, I will instead put on an attached under skirt that acts as a lining, but does not only not bind up the bottom edge, it also lends a graceful flow to the skirt if it is full. On a fitted sheath or sheath skirt, I would line the skirt–but not sew the lining to the bottom of the skirt.
When I do line doll clothes, I use the lightest weight lining material that is appropriate–often swiss organdy or silk, sometimes very lightweight taffeta. Anything but the very lightest weight fabric will simply add bulk and make the doll dress look “bunchy”–on a person it would look like you were wearing a blouse under a blouse.
If you have every looked at antique French Fashion dolls, and many reproductions of them, you will see that when nude they have slender lady figures. Then when they are fully dressed, they look like they are fat or pregnant. This is because the tradition is to dress them in clothes made exactly like people clothes, including fabrics,linings, and underclothes. The fashion does not look beautiful and graceful as it would on a human. It looks bulky and awkward. Why would you want three layers of underclothes on a doll? It certainly adds no charm. The outer garment can be made to look on the doll just as it looks in pictures of the beautiful fashion women of the era of the clothes— simply eliminate the bulk of layers of underwear, and heavy fabrics and lining. Substitute the same fabrics ( such as wool ,cotton, silk) in appropriate DOLL WEIGHTS. Underclothes? Are people going to life up the doll’s dress to be sure she is modest? Or will they enjoy the illusion of the beautiful fashions of the era.
Before you decide to line a doll dress, especially the skirt part–ask yourself, is this the best way to finish this? Am I choosing the lightest weight, least bulky materials? Will the dress fit smooth and flowing, if I line it?
I hope you will find this tip helpful. I have been making doll clothes for more than 70 years, so this is the voice of experience speaking.