Thursday, 5 November 2015

How to Add a Lining to a Bag

Sewing machine, materials and tools arranged on a cutting mat: quilter's rule, pin cushion with pins, a reel of sewing thread, a swatch of cotton quilting fabric, a rotary cutter, pair of scissors, steel rule and the WIP Project bag.Adding a fabric lining is my last step to complete Janet Brani's WIP Project Bag–a crocheted drawstring bag which converts to a backpack.

Why bother with a lining?  This post provides good reasons for lining crocheted bags and shows my method step-by-step.

Whether a lining is added or not is personal choice. Ask:
  • How will this bag be used?
  • What will it carry?

This bag of mine will be for carting around my 'take-along' crochet projects. 

The bag could be used without a lining to carry a couple of yarn skeins because they are large items but soft and light; the bag would be less suitable for hooks and notions because they could easily poke through the crocheted fabric or catch on the stitches.

The most important reason for a lining: without it, a crocheted bag risks stretching out of shape as soon as anything heavy goes into it,  (knitted bags, even more so than crocheted ones because knitting is very, very stretchy).

Some bags are designed to be stretchy, like string shopping bags that expand to accommodate groceries etc.–the stretch enhances the functionality of the bag–but it may not be so pleasing to have a fashion bag stretch out of shape or around its contents to reveal the visible outlines of personal items to the world!

I don't want my bag to stretch (even if it does increase the capacity) and I plan to be carrying fine steel hooks that I don't want to lose in my travels.


  • Block bag
  • Wash and press the fabric
  • Gather materials and tools.

Materials & Tools

Top view of materials and tools: sewing machine, quilters' rule, pincushion with pins, reel of sewing thread, swatch of cotton fabric, scissors, rotary cutter, steel rule and WIP Project Bag on a cutting mat.
Materials & Tools
Clockwise from top:  sewing machine,
fabric, scissors & rotary cutter, steel rule,
blocked bag, quilter's rule, pins, thread.

Background: self-healing cutting mat

  • Crocheted bag, blocked
  • Fabric, washed and freshly pressed 
  • Sewing thread
  • Sewing machine or hand-sewing needle
  • Scissors or rotary cutter to trim the fabric
  • A ruler of some sort; e.g. steel rule, quilter's rule or set square
  • Pins for holding fabric edges together while sewing

I chose a cotton fabric because it doesn't stretch and will help the bag to keep its shape under load. Cotton is washable and strong with a fine weave. I won't lose stitch markers or hooks because they won't be able to poke through easily.

My choice of cotton echoed the colours in the variegated sock yarn.  The main colour is golden yellow with subtle swirls of green and purply reds; it has a 'paisley' feel to it, even though it is not a true paisley pattern.

The fabric pictured here is 100% cotton designed for quilting.
Pattern: RobertKaufmann"Fusions" screen print D#5572 (copyright Judy Hand).

Thread: 100% polyester general sewing thread  Gütermann CA02778 / colour #412.



  1. Measure fabric
  2. Cut fabric
  3. Hem
  4. Seam
  5. Insert lining into bag

1. Measure Fabric

The lining will be one piece of fabric folded vertically with a seam along the bottom and on one side. The top will need an allowance for a hem.  Decide upon your desired size for seam allowances and hems and include that in your measurements.

One can measure roughly 'by eye'  (also called 'eyeballing' [verb]) or use a rule for more precision. 

fabric laid out on cutting mat with bag laid on top.
1. (a) Measure the Length
Remember to allow for hems and seams.

Measure the length of the fabric according to height of bag plus seam/hem allowances.

Lay out the fabric with the right side (RS) facing up and place bag on top to get an estimate of the fabric needed and whether there will be enough.
  • By eye:
    Place bag onto fabric so that the fabric is a little larger than the bag. undo ties at bottom of bag to see dimensions clearly.
    Fabric length = the height of the bag +
    inches/cm for bottom seam allowance + hem
    My fabric was just taller than the bag–the perfect height.
  • Using tools:
    Use the grid on the cutting mat or a ruler for precision if you wish: measure height of bag and add seam allowances for top hem and bottom seam.

Close up of WIP Project Bag laid onto fabric with steel rule on top to measure the width of the bag
1. (b) Measure the Width
When using a ruler,
check measurements from different places.

1. (b) Width
  • Eyeball:
    Fold fabric along the vertical axis until the it is the same size as the width of the bag plus a bit extra for the seam allowance.
  • Measure:
    With ruler, measure in three places (top, middle, bottom) to accurately determine the width.  Fabric needs to be twice the width of the bag plus the width of the seam allowances (remembering that there will be a seam allowance on each side of the fabric when laid flat, unfolded). 

WIP Project Bag laid out flat onto cutting mat grid to show dimensions.
If my bag measures 16 cm/6.25" across,
the fabric needs to be (16 x 2) + (1.5 cm x 2) = 35 cm 

or (6.25" x 2) + (0.5" x 2) = 13.5 inches wide.

2. Cut Fabric

Either mark the fabric (with a 'disappearing ink' pen or tailor's chalk pencils) and cut with sharp fabric scissors or use a ruler and rotary cutter on a cutting mat.

I used a quilter's rule and rotary cutter on a self-healing cutting mat.

Fabric laid out on cutting mat. A quilter's rule is laid out on top, lined up with the mat grid, ready to trim off the selvage
2. (a) 'Square up' the fabric.
Use the grids on the cutting mat and/or a quilter's rule or set square to make sure the straight edges of the fabric are 'square' (parallel and at right angles):
  1. Fold the fabric horizontally so the top and bottom edges meet.
  2. Align the horizontal fold along a horizontal line on the grid. 
  3. Adjust the position of the fabric along the line until the selvage is just past a gridline on the cutting mat. 
  4. Line up the quilter's rule horizontally with the fabric fold/gridlines; line it up vertically with the gridline just before the selvage. Using a rotary cutter along the ruler's edge, cut off the selvage.  
  5. This 'new edge' is straight and at right angles to the horizontal fold.  
Line up the 'new straight edge' (from where the selvage had been taken on the right hand side) with the lines on the grid when making further cuts.

2. (b) Cutting the fabric to correct width

  1. Line up the ruler's edge with the grid so it is the correct distance from the 'new straight edge' created in step 2 (a).
    (the correct distance is twice the width of the bag + [2 x seam allowance]).
  2. Use the rotary cutter against the ruler to cut the left hand side of the fabric.

Fabric folded horizontally and laid out onto cutting mat.  The fold is at the bottom edge and is lined up with the mat's grid.  A quilter's rule is lined up with the fabric fold and the grid indicating where the fabric needs to be cut.  The rotary cutter is pointing to that line.  The bag is laid out on top of the fabric to show how the fabric is at least twice as wide as the bag.
Measuring & Cutting the Correct Width
I want my folded lining to be 7 inches wide, (a bit wider than the bag)
so I will cut the fabric 14 inches from the new straight edge,
cutting parallel to the first straight edge on the right hand side.

The fabric cut to height and width is laid out flat on the cutting mat. The side edges of the fabric are straight and parallel.  The grid indicates the dimensions of the fabric.  Part of the crochted bag can be seen in the top corner for a sense of scale.
You will be left with a piece of fabric, at least twice as wide as the bag with a parallel straight edges on both sides.

2. (c) 'Square Up' and Trim the Top Edge

The top edge will be hemmed.  In order to have a straight hem, it helps to have a straight, square edge!
The fabric is not quite folded all the way vertically. The bag is on top to compare sizes.  This photograph illustrates the process of folding the fabric vertically.
    1. Fold the fabric vertically, right sides facing, so the straight side edges meet. (This is a good time to place the bag on top to double check that the folded fabric is at least the same width as the bag.)
    Fabric is laid out on cutting mat grid and is folded vertically with the fold on the right hand side and the two straight sides meeting at the left hand side.
    The straight sides meet on the left.
    The fold is on the right.
    Align the straight edges with the grid.

      2. With the two straight edges meeting on the left hand side and aligned with the grid, use a set square or quilter's rule (or the gridlines and ruler) to square off the top edge. Trim the top edge.
          The folded fabric is laid out on the grid next to the bag to compare heights.  The fabric is lined up with the grid and the quilters rule is aligned across the top of the fabric and with the grid. The rotary cutter is ready to trim the top edge of the fabric.
          Squaring off the top edge, ready to hem.

          3. Hem the Top Edge
          On the ironing board, the top hem has been folded once and the iron on the right hand side is pressing down the fold.
          3. (a) Fold once and press …

          The fabric is on the ironing board. The fabric has been folded once already and is being folded again with the iron on the right hand side to press down the fold.
          3. (b) Fold again and press.
          This is the edge that will be seen from the top opening of the bag. 

          3.(a) & (b)  Fold over the top edge twice (half inch once, half inch again, approx. 6 mm folded twice). Press each time for crisp, neat folds that will stay folded during sewing.

          The fabric with its trimmed sides and hemmed top is laid out on the cutting mat with the bag to check that it is the right height after folding the hem.
          I double-checked the size of the hemmed lining against the bag.

          Satisfied that the hem is folded correctly, this is a close up photo of the sewing machine needle stitching a straight stitch to secure the hem.

          3.(c) With hand stitching or sewing machine, sew down the hem.
          I used a basic straight stitch.

          4. Seams 

          Two seams: along one side and along the bottom.  Decide upon your seam allowance and use a straight stitch.  

          I allowed for a generous seam allowance and then trimmed it back to remove bulk after the stitching was done.

          4. (a) Side Seam
          The folded fabric is laid out on the cutting mat grid. The straight side edges meet on the right hand side. They are pinned together with glass head pins, ready for seaming.  The blue pincushion and white base of the sewing machine can be seen towards the top of the photo.
          1.  Fold the fabric right sides together so that the two side edges line up.
          Secure with pins. This will be the side seam.

          A comparison of the folded fabric and the bag widths to double check the seam allowance.  The pincushion can be seen towards the top of the picture.
          2. Check how wide the seam allowance needs to be by comparing it with the bag.

          Measuring the seam allowance against the bag with a steel rule.
          My folded fabric is 1.5 cm (half an inch) wider than the bag which is the same amount as my calculated seam allowance.
            Fabric on the sewing machine, stitching the side seams.
            3. With right sides together sew side seam half an inch (12 mm) from the edge.

            Lining with top hemmed and side seam done, laid out on grid.
            A completed side seam.

              4. (b) Bottom Seam

              Measuring the fabric against the bag to determine the location of the bottom seam.  The bag is resting on the fabric, both aligned with the mat's grid.  The side seam is on the left hand side of the fabric.
              1. If you are not sure how deep to make the seam, put your lining next to the bag, so the top hem is level with where you want it in the bag. The bottom seam will be level with (or very close to) the bottom of the bag.
              You may think it is a bit long, but the crocheted bag will stretch to accommodate the lining and contents. The amount of stretch is limited by the size of the lining (unlike an unlined bag which will stretch unpredictably)

              If the lining is still too long once you have tested it, you can always stitch another bottom seam a little bit higher without the need to unpick the first bottom seam.

              I have chosen a quarter inch seam for the bottom (6 mm). 

              The fabric is on the sewing machine ready to start stitching the bottom seam.  The needle starts near the side seam edge and moves towards the folded edge to create a bottom seam.
              Still with right sides together, feed the lining into the sewing machine, beginning at the side seam and working towards the fold, finishing at the fold.

              The lining is laid out next to the crocheted bag on the grid.
              Top hem, side seam and bottom seam complete.

              4. (c) Finishing the Lining

              1. Trim threads and check fit within the bag.

              Almost the same as the previous photograph, the lining is laid out on the grid next to the bag.  A quilter's rule is on the left hand edge of the lining to trim the seam allowance. The rotary cutter is pointing to that edge.
              2. Trim wider seam allowances;
              e.g. I trimmed my half inch seam (12 mm) by a quarter of an inch (6 mm) to reduce bulk

              The fabric is on the sewing machine which is overcasting a zig zag stitch along the side and bottom edges.  In this photo the side edge is done and the machine is overcasting the bottom edge.
              3. Finish the raw edges (unhemmed edges) by overcasting with a zig-zag stitch or with an overlocker to prevent the fabric from fraying.


              A close up of the overcast zig zags.
              A zig-zag stitch will protect the raw edges from fraying.

              The finished lining, oriented sideways with the top hem at the left hand side and bottom seam on the right with side seam on the top.
              The finished lining, ready to go into the bag.

              5. Insert the Lining

              The lining is partially inserted into the bag.
              1. Insert the lining into the bag.

                Looking into the bag from the top to show the lining pattern and the pins which are securing the hem to the border of the bag opening.
                2. Pin hem to the inside of the bag's border.

                Similar to the previous photo, the bag is resting open to show the lining hem pinned to the bag's opening border.
                The third image of the bag resting open to show the lining pinned to the bag's border on the inside.
                3. Stitch the lining to the bag.

                One could use a sewing machine to attach the lining but I find it neater to do it by hand. 

                I used a whip stitch with a sewing needle to attach the lining to the bag at the hemline by hand.

                Close-up of the bag opening to show the stitching of the lining to the bag.
                My stitching was loose to allow for stretch
                –a little
                too loose perhaps!

                My whip stitching was a bit loose with too much distance between stitches.  When the bag is fully drawn open, the lining sits snug against the bag but when it is relaxed, the lining comes away from the bag at the top as you can see in these photos (above & below). 

                Another close-up photo of the bag opening showing the stitching of the lining to the bag.
                I will need to re-stitch this to make it neater and tighter.
                Outside view of the finished bag, laid flat.
                Voila! A finished product.

                WIP Project Bag being worn as a backpack with drawstring closure pulled shut.  The bag is carrying a couple of cotton skeins.
                Adjust the length of the straps
                and you're good to go!

                Related Posts on Lupey Loops

                "How to Turn a Drawstring Bag into a Backpack". 8 October 2015:

                "WIP Project Bag: Progress Photos at Last!", 17 September 2015:  
                Designer, Pattern & Project details for the crocheted bag can be found at the end of this post.

                Completed bag resting on a seat. 



                1. Great tutorial! Will share on my group as well. I have the perfect lining and handles waiting for the perfect pattern ;-)

                  1. Thanks, Stel. I am glad it is useful.

                    I remember when I first started crochet, it was very discouraging to find a lovely pattern that gave instructions for the crochet, but then assumed the reader had the knowledge to do the other crafts involved in finishing off (like sewing!). Of course, at that stage, I didn't have those skills or resources.

                    I eventually taught myself how to sew and use a sewing machine but it would have been nice to have some basic guidelines of where to start - something to set me off in the right direction. That's why I included every little step of the way in this post.

                    Which group are you referring to? Is that the Ons Hekel group or something else? Tell us more about that group - is it a physical group for those of you who meet together in person or an online group with members far and wide?

                    I will be looking out for your post when the perfect lining and handles find that perfect pattern! Nice accessories can be hard to find so when I do come across them I will often grab them for later. Is that what you did with your handles?

                    Have fun, stay well, and it is great to see you here again. Hugs, Jodie

                2. I need to try this! I have taken to lining colour work beanies with a plain stocking stitch second hat, so the pesky ends don't get annoying, but have not made any bags since getting experienced with knitting. Another project on the list!

                  1. Do I praise you for your ambition or apologise for making your list longer? hehehe

                    I love the way you line your beanies, especially because it stops the children from poking their fingers into the colour work stranding and pulling it out of shape. The lining can also hide messy weaving in so you can be secure with the ends without having to be so careful about neatness. The right side does not need to know (or show it)!

                    How many bags have you made, Cheryl? I know you have done a backpack and also a tote for a teen. What sort will you make next, I wonder.

                    We need to compare beanie patterns again. Have fun. Love Jodie

                3. Your lining material is reminiscent of the background of your blog. Just a weird thing to notice. ..

                  1. Hahaha! You are so right, Adrienne - they do look the same. That's not a weird thing to notice when they are juxtaposed on screen. Perhaps it's a clue to my personality?

                    I did choose the fabric and the blog background totally independently on separate occasions. Thanks for bringing it to attention - I hadn't really noticed but am not surprised once you pointed it out. Now every time I look, I can't help but see.
                    How cool! At least I am consistent! hehehehe

                    How are your craft projects coming along? I look forward to seeing them sometime soon...counting the days until school's done and we can relax a little more. Take care.
                    Love Jodie

                4. Oh! Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! :) I haven't yet lined a bag but I want to (someday... when I can find time)!

                  Take care
                  Crochet Between Worlds

                  1. Indeed, Anne! Finding the time is always a challenge - too many project ideas, not enough time (or energy)! I hope this post will help you get started when it comes to lining your bag. This WIP Project Bag has been relatively simple because it is a basic shape.

                    I hope your days are not too hectic. How are the teddy bears coming along? I hope you get a great response. I am sure that will keep you very busy but it is all for a good cause. You are very generous. Perhaps I should add that your teddy bear pattern is now available on your blog Crochet Between Worlds, hey? ;-)
                    Have fun! Hugs, Jodie

                5. Thank you,Noémi! I like your little video tutorial of how to put hair on amigurumi, which reminds me, I must write a proper post about my last amigurumi friend who appeared here:
                  Did you see my Fab Four Amigurumi? I agonised over how to do their hair:
                  You make it look so very easy to do the hair, Noémi.
                  Also I love your crochet horse:
                  You have recreated the perfect shapes and proportions. Nice work!:-)