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 done that yet? Read this tutorial on how to construct the basic pieces for your bag!

*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 in tact 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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14 Responses to The Simplest Way to Line a Bag of Any Kind

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. Laurie says:

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

  5. Sangeetha says:

    Thank you very much for this lovely tutorial.

  6. 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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