I’ll start this post by stressing that I am no good at sewing. I am learning a lot and want to get better but I am currently pretty rubbish. I know a lot of you doing the bagalong are very skilful needle wizards so this post is not for you. Look away now…..
For my original stash bag I made a stiffened lining in the shape of a box. It really stretched me and although it fits in the bag and works fine, it wasn’t pretty.
During the bagalong I’m going to be looking at better ways of doing linings and experiment with a few ideas. At the bottom of this post you will find links to some expert sewing tutorials I’ve found online and I suggest you check them out to find out the method that suits you and your level of sewing the best.
Method 1: no machine sewing
This method is the easiest that I can find our come up with. It involves only cutting and hand sewing. It looks pretty good but it doesn’t add any stiffness to your bag. It will stop things falling through the holes in the granny square though…
- Step 1: cut a piece of material 5 cm bigger than your finished square all round. My square measured 19 cm so I cut this square 24cm by 24 cm.
- Step 2: Iron a hem all the way round of 1cm.
- Step 3: Turn this to form a second hem of about 1.5 cm. Fold the corners under if they stick out and pin in place if you want.
- Step 4: Place the square of material on the granny square, then hand sew it in place stitching just under the two crochet loops on the outer round
I used this method on the base of my bag and I like it a lot.
This part is optional and involves using a sewing machine
To add some stiffness I put padded square in place first, smaller than the material I was hand sewing later.
I made this by making a sandwich of three squares of undyed cotton with a square of thin (2oz) cheap wadding (like people used for quilting) between squares 2 and 3. I then sewed around three sides, turned inside out and hemmed the top. As you can see I then used the machine to sew the wadding in place very haphazardly. But it didn’t matter because this was to become invisible once I hand stitched the fabric square over the top…
Alternatives for stiffening include:
- Ironing on some heavy interfacing to your fabric square before handsewing it in place
- Cutting a cardboard square and glueing the material onto that, overlapping it on the wrong side, before stitching into place
- Using a stiffer material such as heavy cotton ticking or denim – the hemming could become a problem though as the fabric would be quite bulky
Method 2: using a sewing machine
Now, I must admit that my instructions here reflect what I learned when doing this today, so the pictures don’t always match the instructions. Learn from my mistakes!!
Step 1 Cut fabric and hem your pockets
I used a fat quarter of two coordinating cottons that I bought from my local shop a while ago. Each cost £2.75.
I do have a quilting ruler and rotary cutter but you can use an ordinary ruler, marker pen and scissors.
The main linings: Cut out four pieces of fabric in each design, so 8 altogether. Make the width the same as the width of your square PLUS 2cm (the seam allowance). Make the height the height of your square (which is the same as the width!) PLUS 4cm (you need extra seam allowance at the top of the lining).
The small pockets: Cut two pieces of fabric in each design (so 4 altogether) the same width but shorter – you can choose how tall you want your pocket. I had mine about half the height of the lining.
Fold a neat double hem across the top of your pocket and sew in place with a single line of machine sewing.
I used the selvedge of the fabric for my seam allowance you will notice because it was a bit tight getting the squares out of my fat quarters… (needle wizards probably frown on that).
Step 2: Make fabric sandwiches
Lay your first pocket lining piece right side up. Lay on top the pocket (I used the coordinating pocket). Make sure its facing right side up. Lay your second piece of lining fabric right side DOWN.
Step 3: Sew around 3 sides
Make sure you leave open the side that will go to the top of your bag – the pocket will be at the bottom. Before Step 4, iron your square to set your seams. You might also like to trim off the bottom two corners to reduce the bulk of the fabric there.
Step 4: Turn inside out and press
You can push the corners out with a chop stick or similar implement. Or a pair of blunt scissors.
Don’t these look great!!! (Sewing experts if you still are reading this far – stop laughing!)
Step 5: Turn the top hem in
This is where my instructions and pictures don’t quite match. I originally made my pieces of fabric square, leaving myself the same seam allowance at the top. Bit of a booboo…
Its fiddly to do with only 1cm and if you have more it will be a doddle. I did find it helped to press a hem and then use the press lines to ease the fabric in on itself to create a neat hem.
Pin as you go until you have something like this:
Starting in the top left hand corner as in this picture, sew on the machine just 5mm from the edge, taking the pins out as you go. When you reach the corner, lift the machine foot (make sure the needle is still in the fabric first), turn the fabric by 90 degrees and then continue sewing down the side. Sew all the way round.
You can also sew from the bottom up through the three pieces of fabric to the top of the pocket to create smaller internal pockets. You can make these whatever size you want. I made one for my circular knitting needle packet and did one of the pockets with thin divisions so I can put individual crochet hooks in them. And one for my mobile phone!
Step 6: Hand sew in place
Pin in place first and make sure the fabric is just inside the outside loops of the outer round of crochet. Stitch through the yarn under this. The two loops must remain free because you will be crocheting through them when you assemble your bag.
I made my fabric linings too small on the sides of my bag. Its not a disaster, but its better for you to make your fabric the same size as your squares and then stretch the squares slightly when stitching the lining into place. This creates a very good finish inside and out.
When I did the linings like this and joined the bag it did stand up on its own – just cotton fabric doubled like this with the extra pocket really gives the bag some strength.
My lining is a bit wonky in places but it does the job and I will do better next time.
Sewing tutorials to check out
Kelby Sews has an hour bag tutorial – this makes a fabric stash bag that is rectangular but could easily be made square and without the handles as a lining. You would have to work out the sizing… The link on here page goes to a free tutorial on Craftsy.
This Curbly Video podcast shows how to make a basket liner – which is essentially a lining too. You could make this using a sandwhich of two pieces of material and thin wadding to make a padded lining.
Enjoying the bagalong?
This pattern and tutorial is free and you can use it to make bags for yourself or for others. You can sell your bags but it would be nice to credit me for the design. Please do not take the photos or the text of the tutorials and publish them, even with a link back to my site, as that is against UK Copyright Law. Pinning my pics on Pinterest is fine – as long as you pin from here.
If you find the tutorial useful please consider donating £2 to the Just Giving page below – I raised over £10800 for Marie Curie Cancer Care recently and I want to keep up the good work!!
You can text a donation to 70070 adding YARN55 and then your donation amount if you prefer xxxxxxxxx