Putting a fabric lining in a bag

I have a couple of knitted bags in my Ravelry queue (they are both slightly felted). I have been thinking about adding a fabric lining, but I’m not a seamstress and don’t own a sewing machine. For those of you out there who have experience with this sort of thing, how hard would it be to do something like this by hand?

Ah, now here’s where I don’t feel a novice at all! :slight_smile:

It’s not hard. The important thing is to make sure that the fabric has a big enough seam allowance (the bit that gets folded over inside), and that you sew it pretty much in the same place in the stitches every time – ie: if you’re sewing into the purl knot, try to always sew into the purl knot along the sewing line.

If it was me, I’d probably cut the fabric more or less to size before you put the purse together, unless it’s attached while knitting – easier to cut the shapes out when the thing is flat.

Of course, if it’s felted to the extent that you can’t see the stitches anymore, then it doesn’t matter at all.

I’d probably do an invisible stitch, myself. The smaller your stitches and the closer together they are, the less chance you’ll have gaps that will get caught on things and pulled away from the main body of the purse.

ETA: if you feel leery of the job, baste the lining in place first with big obvious stitches that you can easily rip out later. Yes, it’s an extra step, but can make a big difference in how easy it is to manipulate the fabric into place and keep it there while you’re trying to sew it.

Thank you! I don’t mind basting because I actually do that when I’m seaming my knitting.

When you say you’d do an invisible stitch, what specifically do you mean?

It goes by various names: slip stitch, blind stitch, or sometimes called invisible stitch – a lot of people use it for hemming things, so all you see is the little bite of fabric it takes on the edge. The thread travels behind the thread allowance and takes a tiny bite of the purse wall, etc.

Are you planning on lining the pieces, that is to say, just lining the inside of the pieces of the purse, or are you making a full lining, where you actually make the purse again out of the lining fabric, then turn it inside out so the seams are outside and the “right” side is the inside, and sewing it in then?

I wanted to do the latter (make the full lining), but I’m wondering now if it might be easier to do the former.

And I’m expecting I’d do the felting first, since I won’t know the exact dimensions when I’m done, and therefore wouldn’t know what size to cut the fabric.

Here’s some websites I’ve used:



I’ve lined several of my knitted fair-isle bags. Not hard at all!

I just made sure to use a stretchy fabric such as an old t-shirt. And make the lining a bit larger than the bag I’m lining. Sew the lining first to make a 2nd “bag” or pouch. Turn the pouch inside-out and place it outside of your bag which is also turned inside out.

First sew the top of the pouch to the bag - it should fall short of the bag’s top. I used a whip stitch that has a fair amount of stretchiness built in. Make sure you double the sewing thread - or use a heavy-duty upholstery thread.

Then I tack the bottom of the pouch to the bottom of the bag, again using a whip stitch.

Now turn your bag rightside-out, putting your lining inside. I use a basting stitch to tack the lining top-to-bottom, doing 2-3 vertical lines per half of the bag/lining.

This lasts very well indeed and lets me carry my knitting, needles and all, in my bag-purse without the needles poking out.

Hope this helps,

Well, a bag’s lining exists to do a number of things, but mainly it’s there to protect the outer layer from things inside the bag and keep them from causing havoc on the integrity of the bag, and two, protect the things inside the bag from falling out if the outside of the bag does give way. (The third and technically least important lining function is of decoration!) It can also help the bag to maintain it’s shape, by taking most of the stress of the stuff inside off of the main fabric, so your pretty bag remains pretty – linings being fairly easy to replace, where the outside isn’t easy to replace.

It really shouldn’t be stretchy unless the outside is stretchy, in order to fulfill it’s protective function.

Try this: when the bag is felted and completely blocked and dried the way you want it, turn it inside out. Make the bag of the lining up so it fits the inside out bag fairly tightly, but without making the bag “scrunch up” inside it. Sew the lining in. Turn the whole thing back inside out. (This only works, of course, so long as you’re able to turn the bag inside out!)

One thing to remember is that the thread you use should break before the lining tears or it pulls a hole out of your outside material. (This is why you should never use silk thread on anything but silk, and even then only a weaker thread than the material.) The next weakest thing should be the lining, because it’s better your lining tears before your outer material.


Thanks for all the advice everyone! I’m thinking maybe I can do this after all. :slight_smile:

I just had a (mostly) relaxing weekend of knitting and am almost done with a little backpack that I plan to use to carry my knitting with me. Of course, I was thinking I should probably line it so my needles wouldn’t poke through…and lo and behold, here is my answer…amazing! :notworthy:
Now I just need to figure out what color I want to use on the lining…
:muah: :hug:

For my linings, I tend to go a little crazy. Nobody else is very likely to see it [usually] so I use this as one of the ways I make my own work totally, obviously Unique.

Wonky colors, weird prints, ancient-but-still-intact t-shirts - hey, knock yourself out!

Hope this helps,

Is there any specific kind of fabric you all recommend (e.g. cotton, etc.)?

What kind of bag is it? You should suit the lining to the function of the bag.

If you’re going to need to hunt around in it for things, choose a silver, gray, white, sky blue or other pale colored lining, because it’s easier to see things on pale backgrounds. On the other hand, it shows dirt a lot faster; even if you tend to lose things on dark backgrounds, at least the dirt doesn’t show as fast.

Otherwise, anything that’s hardwearing and tightly woven, won’t be harmed by keys, knitting needs, crochet hooks, cell phones, camera, etc. in the bag, and is – oh yes – decorative will work.

If it’s a “whatever” bag, use whatever takes your fancy. If it’s a bag that you really want to show off and showcase, then choose a bit more carefully.

There’s a new magazine in the UK called The Knitter, kind of like a Threads for knitting. There’s a beautiful cabled purse and tote project in tomato red alpaca that I’d love to make – the designer used a Liberty print to line them…oooh, doesn’t that sound lovely? And I’m so close to Liberty’s… :slight_smile:

This is the pattern:


I guess it would have helped if I’d posted it earlier, huh? :slight_smile:

I want to use it, but not for knitting stuff, more like a purse.

Oooh, it’s so gorgeous! Something like that deserves a really beautiful lining. Maybe something like these?

Thanks! Those are very pretty. I love the one that’s all the way to the right in the first row. Great! Now you have me thinking about learning to sew. Just what I need, another hobby! :wink:

Upholstery fabrics are great if you need a heavy lining. Sturdy as heck, and usually fairly easy to keep clean.

Sewing is great – my mother said that I started sewing at age 4, though i remember 6. Both my mom and my grandmother worked in the sweatshops in Chinatown in San Francisco, so I come from a family of professional seamstresses. I have to say that I find sewing much more entertaining when I’m not doing it for a living!