How to: Sewing a Vent Lining

Hey friends! Please note that as of 4/6/2012, this tutorial has been refashioned. The instructions and photos have all been updated to produce a much more professional result. If this is your first time visiting this tutorial, read on, if this is your second or third time (or 4th or 5th) give a read through the material as some of it has changed a bit.

This is the 3rd installment of creating a vent in a skirt. For the first two posts in this series, click here and then here. Once you’ve drafted the lining for a vented skirt, we now come to the sewing up of it! Yay! For clarity, I’m going to start from the very beginning of the sewing process. I’ll include tips and tricks so, definitely read instead of just following along with the photos. Ok? Ok.

Step 1 ✂ You’ll need to cut out your cloth to begin with. Make sure you only cut 1 of each of the lining back pieces. From there, stitch in the tucks to the lining and the darts to the skirt shell. In the above photo I’ve stitched the tucks in the lining pieces and then pressed the tucks to towards the centers. No biggie, right?

Step 2 ✂ These instructions are going to look awfully similar to the ones in How to: Create a Vent, but for a few minor differences. Stitch from the bottom of the zipper opening/stop to within 5/8″ (1.6 centimeters) of the edge of the vent extension (make a notch for this), pivoting where the center back seam of the skirt and the vent extension meet. Please note that as per the Jenny Skirt pattern via BurdaStyle, this pattern has 5/8″ (1.6 centimeter) seams.

Step 3 ✂ Clip into corner where the center back seam and the vent extension meet. Careful not to clip through the stitching, just close to it.

Step 4 ✂ Now, before you go pressing and sewing the shell’s vent extension to one side, let me warn you that I ALWAYS press the vent extension to the wrong side. If you’ve already done that, don’t worry, you may have got it right and in the event that you got it wrong, you’ve got a seam ripper. To prevent my pressing and stitching the vent extension to the wrong side of the skirt shell, I stitch up the lining first. You’ll do nearly the same thing that you did with the skirt shell to the lining. Take your back lining pieces and stitch the center back seam, right sides together, from notch to notch. Press seam open.

Step 5 ✂ If you haven’t already, stitch the side seams of the front and back sections of the lining to each other. You can also do this on the skirt shell too. Press seams open.

Step 6 ✂ Now, its time to determine just how long your lining needs to be. This must be determined before you stitch the lining to the skirt shell so that you don’t have to go back and unpick and be hateful about this experience. I like my skirt linings to generally fall 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) above my skirt hem. That means that I need to cut the hem allowance for the skirt shell off of the lining and then hem up the lining by 1 inch. For example, if the hem allowance of the skirt is 2 inches, then I would trim off 2 inches from my lining and hem it up by 1 inch. Make sense? For the purposes of this tutorial I cheated and serged an inch off the bottom of the lining. Easy, no?

Step 7 ✂ It’s time to attach the lining to the vent extension of the skirt shell. We’re almost done here! Yay! Alright so now, let’s determine which side the vent extension on the skirt shell needs to lay. To do this, lay out the lining, right side out. Whichever side the inverted vent extension is on is the side that the skirt shell’s vent extension should point toward. Now that was a mouthful and you’d think I could figure this out before now, but every single time I seem to do it wrong. Weird, I know! According to my lining, my vent extension should be pressed and stitched to the left (this with the wrong side up). On the skirt shell, press the center back seam to the clip (from Step 3) open and then press the vent extension to the correct side. Satin stitch following the seam line of the 45 degree angle along the top of the vent extension; stitch through all layers.

Step 8 ✂ It’s time to stitch the skirt shell’s vent extension to the lining vent extension. Remember how you left a 5/8″ seam allowance at the edge of the vent extension from Step 2. I know that was awhile ago, but you did. From here, we’ve got to match that up to the lining and stitch them together. To do this, turn both the skirt shell and the lining wrong side out. Line up the vent extensions. With right sides together, stitch along one side of one vent extension, matching notches from the top of the vent extension to the bottom of the lining. Do the same for the other side. Press. Turn lining right side out while at the same time slipping it over the wrong side of the skirt shell. Voila!

And there you go! From here, you’ll go on to finish as the sewing instructions of your skirt tell you. I think you get the idea. Yay for vented skirts with linings! Now, I know this is somewhat of an ordeal, but I promise after you perfect your pencil skirt pattern and stitch it up, the 2nd and 3rd times will go by like a breeze, to mention nothing of the 4th and 5th times! By then, I’m quite sure you’ll have moved on to possibly doing this for dresses and other projects too! Yay!


  • Seemane - Brilliant work Sunni on deciphering the mysteries of linings and vented skirts! Thank you so much for doing all the hardwork for us, I shall be printing this tutorial off & filing it with the other pencil-skirts tutes you’ve made 🙂

  • Sandra - I love the vent tutorial! I’m still undecided whether I will be putting a lining into my skirt. I made the muslin with the vent to just try it out and love it. Too easy.

  • Miss Shigatsu - i wish i had you to sit next to me and walk me through this… i must have read the tutorial a hundred times and i simply don’t get it.

  • glow - this is just wonderful,i,ve been trying to put lining to my vents for ages but just couldn,t get the trick. with this , i am good to go. thank you so much.

  • Emma - ohhhh what a wonderful tutorial. The cutting of the lining finally makes total sense for me!

  • WallDruggie - I’ve been puzzling over this for several hours and can’t make it work. I have stopped my back seam sewing 5/8″ before the first 45 degree angle and tried basting up my skirt shell and lining vent extensions for alignment. I can’t make the short angled seam align. It’s like I should have added a seam allowance when I cut along the folded back extension.

  • Rosesred - Thanks so much for this tut, it’s great and I’ve never seen an explanation of this anywhere else. My new dress looks great with this finish, I just love how the lining and the shell fold around eachother. Very cool that you decided to check that RTW skirt out, I’d have never thought of that.

  • BonnieJ - This is brilliant, it has been so long since I made lined clothes with vents that I’d forgotten the construction. When you made the cut on one of the linings everything clicked. It is ashame patterns no longer provide lining options or instructions, but I love the web and generous people like you that are willing to share their experiences with others. For those that cannot relate your words to the process. Make a couple of sample pieces; trial and error will work itself out. I promise…you must go through the process several times before it will appear.

  • Candy - Thanks for taking the time to do this tutorial, it has helped me out.


  • Nancy Winningham - Great Tuturial! I have never done a vent lining like this before, but am going to bookmark this page for the next time I make a vented skirt.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria - Thanks for the tutorial. I am so pleased with how my pencil skirt turned out. Though I do have a question. I haven’t figured out how to hem it yet. I would like to hem the lining and fashion fabric so they hang separately, but with the vent they are sewn together down the back. Can you tell me if this is possible? and how to do it?


  • Barbara Mourand - I have struggled for years with lining a lapped vent. These instructions are good up to a point. I can make it work when using just a small sample. However….when the skirt and lining is put together I cannot get it to work. Are you suppose finish the vent lining on the skirt before sewing up the side seams on the skirt or lining? What am I doing wrong? Thanks for your help.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Hi Barbara!

      I’ll be reworking this tutorial soon and giving much easier and better instructions on how to line a vented skirt. It’s such a struggle, I know! Hopefully you can wait just a little while longer and I’ll get the new instructions up soon! Thanks a bunch!ReplyCancel

    • Darlene - You can actually complete the skirt including your hem leaving off the waistband. Since the lining is an inch or two above your skirt hem, it is uneffected. I personally prefer to attached the lining with hem in place. It a little bit of manuevering to work in a circle. I struggled w/ this tutorial because she doesn’t state that you don’t cut all the way to top. Thus I could figure out to join the two angled pieces of lining; and you can’t determine from looking at her photos. However, I came across an excellent Youtube video where the construction is demonstrated. Once viewing this, everything clicked! I was able to finish my skirt w/ great results. Hope this helps.

  • Rob - What happens if you want the center back seam allowance to be 3cm? the vent allowance cannot be more than 1cm for it would be too big and there has to be a point where the seam allowance will go down from 3cm to 1cm. or do you simply just stop somewhere and draw a straight horizontal line from 3cm to 1cm and then go down to the vent and hem with 1cm allowance?

    thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Grace - I’m so glad this tutorial exists, however I agree with Barbara that the instructions are good up to a point. For me that point is the lining hem. As shown in these photos the lining is not hemmed. I think I can assume that my lining must be hemmed before attaching to the vent, but for a anyone following blindly this omission might be a real problem.ReplyCancel

  • lakaribane - Something is not quite clear to me, Sunni. So I will sew the hem of the fashion fabric OVER the lining? Or will the lining be free and clear of the fashion fabric hem?ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - The lining is clear and free of the fashion fabric hem – basically a free hanging lining. Great question!ReplyCancel

      • lakaribane - Thank you for clearing that up! My vented linings are usually messes but free-hanging.ReplyCancel

  • K-Line - Oooh, this is kind of making my head swim. I guess, as I am going to do this (as well as doing a petersham waist facing on the lining) I’ll have to stitch the petersham to the waist before sewing the vent, or I won’t have a way to do the sewing of the waistband afterwards. Can this actually be done? In your pics you show the waistband still unsewn while you work on the vent – particularly in step 7 where the shell and lining are side by each. Can one do the waist FIRST (including stitching the zipper to both lining and skirt shell) and then still accomplish what needs to be done in step 7? Sorry if this is a totally stupid question but these are a lot of new steps for me to try to put together.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - That’s the way I usually do it – waistband and zipper first and then onto the vent. Finish your waistband and zipper insertions before step 7 and when you get to step 7, your skirt will attach in the same way but look a bit messier than my photos (I left that part out for the sake of the photos). Just flip the lining over the top of the skirt and assemble. It looks alot harder than it really is and it will probably feel contrary to normal. I find that its also easier to grab the extension ends that go together – lining and fashion fabric – pull them out and stitch them one at a time. I promise though that once you get to this step, you’ll see that its easier than it looks too! No stupid questions either! This particular type of lining is one that took me forever to figure out, but its so worth the effort in my opinion. I do hope you’ll agree! I can’t wait to see your finished skirt!ReplyCancel

      • K-Line - I spent the evening drafting the lining pieces and reviewing what petersham I can use (I’m going to go with the fuchsia 2″ I got from you, not the 1.25 inch mossy-purple (which would be the ideal colour – but which isn’t long enough). Turns out I do have JUST enough of that lining (egad!). Wish me luck in this. PS: Going to put up a post about this sometime soon.ReplyCancel