Help! My Bag Lining is Too Big!

Last week I received an e-mail with a really good question about bag linings.

Help! My Bag Lining is Too Big! | Sewing Tips | Radiant Home Studio

I just wondered if you’ve found (and/or have a way to deal with) linings can sometimes turn out too big, even with measuring?  I’ve found
that to be the case for me, especially with tote bags!  So now I’m tweaking how to “fit” the lining…If you have any tips, I’d be happy for the advice! :)

I remembered that I struggled with bag linings a few years ago, but since then I have learned a few tricks to fix bag linings that turn out too big. I’m guessing it’s a common problem, and one worth addressing. I have a few helpful tips, but my best advice is to keep practicing!

Evelyn Handbag | by ChrisW Designs | Radiant Home Studio

Sew Bag Linings that Fit:

  • Double check the measurements – Did you use fusible interfacing on any of your pieces? Sometimes the iron can stretch out the fabric. It’s a good idea double check the size and trim off any excess after you add interfacing.
  • Don’t cut on the fold – I recommend tracing the full sized pattern piece, instead of cutting on the fold. I find that I end up with as much as an extra 1/2″ of fabric when I cut on the fold. If you can cut with the fabric flat, your pieces will be more accurate. I make a lot of organizers using the Noodlehead Divided Basket, but in order to get the top edges to line up the pieces have to be cut accurately. I always cut this pattern flat to ensure that my top edges will fit together properly.

noodle head divided basket top

  • Taper the seam allowances – For extra bagginess in the bottom of the bag, you can try using larger seam allowances. This will make the lining slightly smaller than the exterior. Just taper back to the correct seam allowance when you get to any spot that needs to match up with the exterior (usually the top of the bag). I’ve done this on a couple of bags recently and it seems to make the lining fit better.
  • Try some hand stitching – If the lining is loose and moves around, you can try hand-stitching the corners of the lining to seam allowances inside the bag exterior to keep them in place. Just a couple of small stitches in each corner will keep the bag lining smooth and tight.

Divided Tote Bag | Water Bottle Tote | Radiant Home Studio

  • Don’t worry about it – Sometimes extra bagginess might just be the way the designer designed it. For example, in my upcoming Fairport Purse & Pouch pattern, I debated about adding the pleat to the inside of the bag in the lining. Leaving it out would have made a smoother lining, but it also would have made the usable space smaller. I chose more space.

Keep sewing! The more you practice, the easier it will be to sew straight, line up seams, and keep the seam allowances accurate. Start with some easier projects like adding a lining to canvas tote bag, and then move on to more complicated patterns.

Email to someoneShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on Twitter

Sew a Cargo Pocket for a Tote Bag {Tote Bag Upgrade}

Anyone else love pockets? Let’s sew a big cargo pocket with a magnetic snap flap on to a tote bag!

Sew a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Not only are pockets useful, but they are also a great way to add some color and style to a plain tote bag. This pocket also includes a magnetic snap closure. If you haven’t worked with magnetic snaps before, this is an easy first project. It’s very low risk in terms of the amount of fabric you need and the amount of time you’ll invest.

Sew a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

The materials listed below are estimates. Pockets are a great way to use up fabric scraps, so check and see what you have before you go and buy new fabric!

Materials:

  • 1 or 2 fat quarters of cotton fabric (Grab a second fat quarter or use some scraps if your prefer a contrast on the flap or inside the pocket.)
  • 1 magnetic snap set (Size is not a big concern. Just use what you can find.)
  • about 1/2 yd. of mid-weight interfacing (I used Pellon 931.)
  • matching thread

Sew a Cargo Pocket for a Tote Bag:

1.For the main pocket piece, cut out 2 rectangles, 12″ x 8″. For the pocket flap, cut out 2 rectangles, 8″ x 4″.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

2. Fuse interfacing to 1 main pocket piece and both pocket flaps. (There should be directions included with it, but if you need more help choosing interfacing and applying it check out this post.)

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

3. Apply magnetic snaps to the interfaced pocket piece, and one of the pocket flaps. For the pocket piece, place the male snap centered across the width and 1 1/2″ from one of the long edges. For the main pocket piece, place the female snap centered across the width and 1 1/2″ from one of the long edges.

 

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

4. Place the large rectangles right side together. Stitch around the rectangle with 1/2″ seam allowances, leaving a 3-4 in” opening near the snap to turn the fabric right side out. It’s best to start stitching on a long straight side (as opposed to the corner).

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

5. Trim the corners and seam allowances. Turn the rectangle right side out through the opening, push out the corners, and press. Tuck in the raw edges at the opening and press those so that they are even.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

6. Topstitch at 1/8″ along the edge with the snap. Topstitch another line 1/4″ below that. (You may need to use your zipper foot if you get close to the snap.)

Trim the corners and seam allowances. Turn the rectangle right side out through the opening, push out the corners, and press. Tuck in the raw edges at the opening and press those so that they are even.

7. Measure and mark the fold lines at 1″ and 2″ from each of the short sides.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

8. Fold the fabric toward the pocket lining (the side without the snap) at the 2″ marks and press. Topstitch along the the fold lines at 1/8″.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

9. Fold and press at the 1″ markings, so that you have a “z”-shaped fold.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

10. Place the pocket on your canvas bag, centered across the width and 2″ from the bottom. Tuck the folded edges under the pocket, so that it is flat, and pin in place.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

11. Topstitch the short sides onto one side of the tote bag, through the lower pocket layer only.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

12. Topstitch along the bottom of the pocket through all pocket layers and one side of the tote bag. (It can be tricky to get the bag positioned. You’ll have to push a lot of fabric under the presser foot and re-adjust it often to keep the straps and back of the bag from getting caught in the stitching.)

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

13. Let’s make the flap! Place the flap pieces right sides together and stitch on 3 sides, leaving the long side without the snap open. Trim the corners, turn it right side out, and press. Topstitch around the 3 sides at 1/8″. (Use the zipper foot again to get around the snap, if needed.) Fold and press the raw edge of the pocket flap toward the side with the snap, 1/4″.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

14. Snap the flap to the pocket and mark the place where the folded top edge of the pocket flap meets the bag.

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

15. Unsnap the flap and fold it up as though it were opened. Match the fold to the marks you just made and stitch it in place.

Unsnap the flap and fold it up as though it were opened. Match the fold to the marks you just made and stitch it in place.

16. Fold and press the pocket flap down. Topstitch along the top edge at 1/8″ and again at 1/4″ below that. (This is just below the raw edge that is under it, so that the raw edge will be concealed when you open the flap.)

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Add a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps! With practice, you can add a pocket like this in 15-20 min. Once you master the basic pocket, you can branch out and try different closures (hook-and-loop tape, buttons, or other latches) or trims (add some lace or use bias tape on the flap). You could even try making a patchwork pocket to use up those smaller scraps. Be creative and make it your own!

Sew a Cargo Pocket to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Also, don’t miss the first Tote Bag Upgrade post: 2 Ways to add a Lining to a Tote Bag

Email to someoneShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on Twitter

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag {Tote Bag Upgrade}

Tote Bag Upgrade | How to Add A Lining to a Tote Bag | Radiant Home Studio

If you’ve been sewing for long, you’ve probably noticed that serious sewists don’t like raw edges showing! I’m going to show you how to add a lining to a tote bag to cover up those unfinished edges and add some color.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Though some of the upgrades I’m planning can be done without lining the bag, I do recommend adding a lining at the end of each bag makeover to cover the raw edges and interior stitching. Almost all bag patterns have a lining, so it’s a good skill to practice if you plan to make more bags, purses, and pouches. Later on, I’ll show you how to add various interior pockets to the lining before you attach it to the bag.

There are basically 2 methods for sewing a lining to your bag. The first method is to sew the lining, leaving a few inches open in the bottom. Then you attach the lining with the bag inside out and turn it to the right side through the hole in the lining. The second method is to sew the lining completely, and attach the lining right side out by topstitching.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

If that’s confusing…don’t worry! Just work through the photos step-by-step and you’ll see what I mean.

I prefer the first method, which can be slightly more complicated to understand spatially, but it usually produces a cleaner top edge (unless you are a master topstitcher!). Let’s break it down into easier steps…

Materials:

  • about 1/2 yd. of fabric
  • thread to match the tote bag
  • seam ripper

Lining a Tote Bag: Method 1 – Inside out.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

1.  First, you need to calculate the size of your pieces. My bag is 14 1/2″ x 14 1/2″. I need to add 1/2″ seam allowances on the sides and bottom. The top edge will be stitched to the lower part of the fold and does not need extra seam allowance. So I cut my lining pieces 15 1/2″ by 15″. If your bag is a different size, measure the bag and add 1/2″ to each side and 1/2″ to the bottom.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

2. Use a seam ripper to pick out the lower row of stitching around the top of the bag. On my bags I also picked out the “x” that was stitched across the handle.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

3. Place the lining rectangles right sides together. Stitch along both of the the sides (15″ edges) with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Stitch along the bottom (one of the 15 1/2″ edges) leaving a 3-4″ opening in the center.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

4. Slide the tote bag inside the lining so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other. Tuck in the handles and align the side seams. Unfold the top edge of the tote bag and match the top of the lining to the top crease. Pin or clip it in place. (On my bag the seam allowance was uneven. You will be stitching on the uppermost crease, so measure the seam allowance from the crease and line up the fabric accordingly. Or trim around the top edge so that you have an even 1/2″ above the crease.)

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

5. Use the uppermost crease as a guideline and stitch directly in the crease all the way around the top of the bag.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

6. Reach through the hole in the bottom of the lining and turn the bag right side out.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

7. Tuck the lining into the bag and press the top fold back into place.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

8. Topstitch along the bag where you removed the stitching in the beginning, including the “x’s” on the straps.

Tuck the lining into the bag and press the top fold back into place.

9. Hand-stitch the bottom section of the lining closed using a ladder stitch.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Lining a Tote Bag: Method 2 – Right side out.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

1.  First, you need to calculate the size of your pieces. My bag is 14 1/2″ x 14 1/2″. I need to add 1/2″ seam allowances on all 4 sides. I cut my lining pieces 15 1/2″ by 15 1/2″. If your bag is a different size, measure your bag and add 1/2″ seam allowances to each side.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

2. Place the lining pieces right sides together. Stitch along 3 of the sides with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

3. Press the raw edge under 1/2″.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

4. Insert the lining into the tote bag. Align the top edges of the bag and lining and match the side seams. Pin and topstitch around the top line of stitching on the bag. You can also topstitch a second line 1″ below the first line of stitching (or wherever your second line of stitching is) if desired.

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio 2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

That’s it! Almost all bags are lined using one of these methods or some variation (like using bias binding on the right side out method). If you have a clear understanding of the 2 basic methods for lining a bag, pattern instructions will make a lot more sense!

If you are just learning to make bags, I encourage you to try both methods. You’ll find patterns with both techniques. Some bag styles don’t work well with one method or the other. For example, a highly structured bag with heavy interfacing might be difficult to turn inside out. So the right side out method works best. Practicing with simple rectangles will really help your spatial thought process when you work with more complicated shapes later on.

Not too hard, right?

2 Ways to Add a Lining to a Tote Bag | Tote Bag Upgrade | Radiant Home Studio

Next I’ll show you how to add a cargo pocket! You can  if you don’t want to miss any of the Tote Bag Upgrade posts.

Email to someoneShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on Twitter

Tote Bag Upgrade {A New Monthly Series}

I’m really excited to tell you about a new project I have planned for this year. I’m calling it Tote Bag Upgrade.

Tote Bag Upgrade Series | Radiant Home Studio - bag making techniques to transform plain tote bags into modern accessories.

Each month I’ll be sharing a new tutorial with an idea (or ideas!) for upgrading a basic canvas tote bag into a modern accessory. My goal is to provide some quick and easy projects, while also teaching some bag making basics.

You can use these tutorials as a way to practice specific bag making techniques before you commit to trying a more challenging bag pattern. Canvas bags are cheap and readily available at craft stores. You may even have a few around the house that could use a modern upgrade. Most of the tutorials won’t require more than a half yard of fabric, so you’ll be able to use some of your favorite scraps too.

By the end of the year you’ll have a variety of tutorials for bag hardware and pockets. We’ll try some fun embellishment techniques such as embroidery, printing, and fabric dyeing to add beautiful handmade details to your bags.

I hope to provide you with all of the resources you need to become confident sewing bags through the tote bag upgrades. If you just want to learn one specific technique, try it out on a tote bag and save your designer fabric until you are confident with your new skills.

Need to buy some bags? I bought my bags from Tote Bag Factory. You can buy them in bulk and at around $3 a bag, they are a great price. The canvas is sturdy and the handles are cotton webbing. Almost any chain craft store or Wal-Mart should have have these as well.

I’m planning two posts for next week to get the fun started. First I’m planning to teach you how to add a lining, because I plan to refer back to that technique often. After that I’ll show you how to add some style with a cargo pocket!

I can’t wait to get started and see what you all make!

If you want to share what you are making use #totebagupgrade on instagram or twitter!

Email to someoneShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on Twitter

Paper Pieced Tulip

Ever since I made my tessellation quilt top, I’ve been hoping to try some more paper piecing projects. I found this free paper pieced tulip pattern from Charise Creates. I discovered Charise through her patterns in Stitch magazine and I just love her pretty projects and tutorials. They are sweet and feminine, but still modern. There are a couple of easier patterns available, but I felt up for a challenge and chose the tulip pattern to work on first.

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

The directions are minimal, but as long as you have a basic knowledge of how to paper piece you should be fine. I probably spent a total of an hour and a half on this block.

I really enjoyed putting this together. I had no purpose in mind and no deadline. I love other forms of art and design, and I think paper piecing really combines my love of fabrics with my love of art and design. You start sewing pieces together and this beautiful picture begins to emerge. It’s a fun process!

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

The colored scraps of fabric are leftover from my tessellation quilt. They are mostly Anna Maria Horner, with a couple of Cotton & Steel basics mixed in. The black, white, and gray fabrics were leftovers from my scrap bin.

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

I’m still not sure how I’m going to use the finished block. It could be made into a pillow or a bag. (Charise has directions for a cute bag that she made with hers.) But I haven’t decided yet. I’ll probably set it aside to be made into a gift for someone, when the right opportunity comes up.

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

Have you done any paper piecing? What are your favorite patterns?

Email to someoneShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on Twitter