The Simplest Way to Line a Bag of Any Kind

simplest way to line a bag

Making a simple tote bag is probably one of the best introductory sewing projects, but where do you go after that? How do you advance your sewing skills but still make a project that won't overwhelm, or be too complicated? Well, I think that adding a lining to your bag is a fantastic way to learn a skill that can be applied to so many different sewing projects.

The amazing, simple, way of lining a tote that I'm about to show you can be applied to the simplest, and the most complicated purses and bags. This tutorial assumes you have already pieced together your tote interior, exterior, and handles.

Haven't started a tote yet? Read this tutorial on how to construct the basic pieces for your bag!

Alternatively, here's a list of 60+ Free Tote Bag Patterns that you can choose from.  I'm sure you'll find something you'll like!

Best Free Tote Bag Patterns: 60+ of Our Favorites!

*Note, if you'd like to apply pockets to the interior or exterior of your bag, do so before you attach the lining.

Start Lining Your Bag!

Let's get started! The floral print in this example is the exterior of my bag, and the solid orange is the lining. Begin with your exterior right side out and your lining wrong side out.

how to line a bag

Stuff the exterior of your bag into the lining. They'll be right sides together. 

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Tuck your straps down into the bag, and pin them in place. The raw edges of your straps should be flush to the top raw edge of your bag. You should be able to look down into your bag and see the wrong side of the exterior.

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Pin around the top of the bag, through all layers.

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Leave yourself a 3-5″ opening, and place a pin parallel to the top of the bag there.

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Beginning at the end of the pin you placed parallel, sew a 5/8″ seam around the top of the bag and stop at the beginning of the pin.

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You'll now have a small opening.

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Trim your seam allowance to 1/4″, leaving the seam allowance intact at the opening. Watch out for pins! You'll have a few pins holding your strap or handles in place.

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Reach into the opening of the bag and grab the lining.

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Pull the lining through the opening, and keep pulling until you also pull the exterior through the opening.

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Keep pulling until you've pulled all the fabric through the opening and have something that resembles a long tube, with your lining on one side and the exterior of your bag on the other side.

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Now, tuck the lining of the bag down into the exterior of your bag so that you have something that resembles a normal tote!

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Press the opening that you pulled your bag through, closed and pin it.

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Press around the entire top of the bag. Next, topstitch around the top of your bag, through the lining and the exterior a scant 1/4 inch from the edge.

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Trim your threads, gently poke out the corners of your bag, and you're done!

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This technique is such a great, and easy, way to make a more professional looking tote. Lining your purse, bag or tote also helps add strength to the bag, and means you can add pockets to the inside, without visible seams from the outside!

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Thank you for reading!

simplest way to line a bag

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Hannah Mansfield is the proud owner Palindrome Dry Goods. She is an avid collector of vintage patterns, buttons and all things orange. Originally from beautiful Northern California, she now resides in West Virginia with her husband to be.


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43 Responses to The Simplest Way to Line a Bag of Any Kind

  1. Deborah Holaday says:

    My bad I re read this post very careful and I saw that both pieces needed to be already made. It was operator error. BTW my bag turned out great! Thank you.

  2. Deborah Holaday says:

    I didn’t realize until after I sewed both pieces together that I had to first sew the 2 parts separately and then sew them together. That simple detail was left out.

  3. Carol says:

    Thank you for your simple to follow instructions. I was struggling with a pattern I was using, one which was supposed to be suitable for a beginner. I found your tutorial and images much more useful.

  4. Juanita L Gutbrod says:

    As a beginner, teaching elementary kids how to sew, this is the best tutorial I’ve found. Great pictures! Thank you!

  5. Anne Donovan says:

    I always used that method until everyone started layering all the pieces & zippers. It really confuses me. Is there a way to add a zipper in your much easier method ? Thank you. Great lesson

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Anne, I think you should use the method that works for you. Have you tried sewing the zipper using the machine then attaching the lining by hand.

  6. Marcia says:

    Very useful, but what kind of fabric? I need to line crocheted purses and bags.

  7. iota says:

    Clearlying outlined steps. Thank you

  8. Emma-Leigh Patworth says:

    This website was amazing and has helped me heaps for my tech assessment.
    Thank You

  9. Cathy Torske says:

    I wish there was a printer friendly version

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Cathy, please go to the sharing buttons on the left side of the screen. Click on the three dots on the bottom to expand the options you can choose. From there, select “printfriendly” which will create a neat, print-friendly .pdf version of the page. Hope that helps!

    • Patricia A says:

      Cathy, thanks for asking that question.

  10. Paulette says:

    You made that look so simple I think I can do it.

    I really enjoy your blogs and your instructions.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  11. Sheryl D. Titone says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I am making canvas tote bags for my 2 grand daughters & my friend suggested lining them. I said no to that because it meant (to me) making 4 bags. This is so easy to understand & accomplish that now I will be lining the bags.

  12. Sandra says:

    One thing I like about putting a lining in a tote is that I have the option to “unsew” the lining and put in a new one if it gets stained with spills, etc. (last year’s Easter candy, nail polish top not secured, and “eewww – I have no idea what that is and I don’t want to know.”) Re-doing a liner is much easier than making a whole new bag.

  13. Melissa says:

    Great tutorial. Now I wish I could find a tutorial on how to design the lining. I have several patterns that do not include a lining. Also I have created my own bags before. But linings trip me up. Not too bad on a tote but I wish i could figure out how to know what size and shape to make a lining. Thanks for this information.

    • Clare says:

      Melissa, the lining instructions for the tote are in part 1 of the tutorial – link is near the top.

      I’d probably interface the bag if I’m lining it, maybe the lining also, especially if I’m adding a pocket. Neat tutorial anyway, thanks.

    • Maryrita says:

      I’ve made my own liners by using the bag pattern. I cut the liners the same size as the bag. It works for me, however other sewers may have a different way to make a liner that would also be helpful. I Interface the bag too before I make the liner. If I’m using a heavier Fabric (Drapery, Upholstery) I tend not to have to interface the bag as the fabric works well on its own. But, don’t let me confuse you as I’ve learned from many other sewers…Thank you

  14. Shaneylee says:

    Thank you for allowing us to learn this technique. It’s not easy setting all of this up to help others learn.

    Very helpful and a great way to put a tote together.

  15. Linda Schenk says:

    Why would you not make the same bag as the outside with the orange fabric and then sew it up? Then it would be easier to pin the lining to the outside edge of the bag and sew around the top and flip the liner inside. Once it is inside then just press the edge and topstitch. I think that would be a lot easier and quicker and no messing with leaving an opening or pulling everything through a hole in the liner.

    • Shaneylee says:

      Maybe you should put together a blog about how to put make a tote.

    • Bobbi says:

      What about the handles. In your method there are no handles. How would you then attach your handles between the layers. I have used her method on multiple projects and it is easy and fast. Great tutorial, in my opinion.

    • Melissa says:

      Linda, your post makes no sense. And pulling it through the hole is no big deal. If you cannot be supportive don’t post. That is rude.

    • Carol says:

      Linda, I agree with you & was disappointed to see that you got a telling off for your remark. When I read your post I said to myself “This is exactly what I was thinking because that is how I make my bags.” Don’t be put off giving your ideas, it’s called free speech & in my opinion you were not being rude. What Melissa may not have thought of is your method is much better for the upholstery fabrics for the heavier type bags.

  16. Deborah Atchison says:

    Inside pockets can be added before sewing the lining to the bag using this method.

  17. Chloe Collins says:

    What a fabulous tutorial. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

  18. Sarah Keating says:

    This tutorial is very helpful. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m going to give it a try on a tote I made a while ago.

  19. Jean Roscoe says:

    How do you attach a lining to a bag with a full Zipper at the top? Your carry all bag has you hand sew the lining to the zipper. I hate hand sewing! Is there an easier way?
    Thank you for this step by step tutorial!

    • Hannah says:

      Hello Jean!

      Ah, your question opens up a whole other can of worms, but gives me a great idea for another tutorial! One way (of many!) to attach a lining is to follow the guidelines for attaching the lining and exterior to the zipper through this tutorial (ignore the rest of the tutorial. Just follow the part for the zipper):

      And then sew the sides of your bag together with french seams. However, there are many ways to do this and I will gladly write a tutorial on this process just as soon as I can. Thank you for your comment and I hope I could be a little bit helpful!


    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Sharon, I guess that link must have changed somehow but have made the update. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

  20. Sharon R says:

    Like Victoria, I already knew how to do this, but want to thank you for this tutorial. For the life of me, I can never figure out why so many tell you to leave an opening at the side or bottom of the lining, which you then have to either hand sew or run an awkward machine sewn seam across. I usually ignore those steps and leave the opening along the top seam. I like the look of top stitching, and this saves me an extra step.

    • Hannah says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Sharon. I don’t understand why we’re often told to leave the side of the bag open when doing it this way is just as simple and looks nicer in the end. Thank you for reading and for commenting!

  21. Linda Goschke says:

    It is important to note when preparing your bag exterior and lining before sewing in the lining, pockets for the exterior of the bag should be pre-sewn to the right side of the bag exterior and the pockets for the interior of the bag should be pre-sewn to (or through in the case of zippered pockets) the right side of the lining. If interior pockets are pre-sewn to the wrong side of the exterior bag fabric, they will be covered by the lining and unusable.

    I find it helps to get a clean edge on the top of the lined bag if I press the seam between the bag exterior and the lining while the bag-lining unit is extended into the long tube shape. This opens up the seam, presses the seam stitches, and makes it easier to fold the lining cleanly inside. This is also a good point to turn under the seam allowances for the opening and press them flat and even with the rest of the seam. If the bag exterior or lining have some wrinkles or rumpling from turning, now is also a good time to press them out before turning the lining to the inside.

  22. Laurie says:

    A perfect tutorial that helps make every step clear and easy.. I love it! Thank you!

  23. Sangeetha says:

    Thank you very much for this lovely tutorial.

  24. Victoria says:

    I already knew how to do this but I think it’s a good tutorial for beginners! You might consider reminding people to line up the side seams of the inner and outer when pinning. And explain a little bit more about pinning in the handles. I know when I first started that it took me a few minutes to figure out how to lay them in.

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