Making a big bag box lining

I’ll start this post again saying that I have only basic sewing skills. When I made the box lining for my first stash bag, I found it very difficult to make it an even box. This time I’ve devised my own method and I’ll show you how I did it. If I can sew this, anyone can and if you can sew well, you can do it better.

Serious apologies also because this is a very long post with a lot of pictures. You may have to wait a while for them to download but there are many steps to this and I wanted to make it very detailed 🙂

Fabric, haberdashery and tools

  • 1 metre of lining fabric. I chose a polycotton 90 cm wide.
  • 1 metre of interfacing. The heavier weight the better.
  • Half a metre (3 x 30cm squares) of table protector (optional – I used this for extra support)
  • I metre of backing fabric. This won’t be visible so I chose an unbleached cotton.
  • Pins
  • Dressmaking scissors
  • A long clear ruler – I used a 24 inch (60cm) quilting ruler
  • A Frixion pen – the ink is strong and black but disappears when you touch it with a warm iron
  • A template – as my crochet squares measured 12 inches (30cm) pieces of scrapbook paper were ideal
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating cotton thread

The basic plan

What I planned to do was to cut two strips each of the nice lining fabric, interfacing and bleached cotton 30cm wide plus seam allowances of 2cm each side and 3 x 30cm long, plus 5cm seam allowance at the top and bottom. So, one metre long.

By making a sandwich of nice lining fabric, interfacing and unbleached cotton and then creating a cross with the two sandwiches at right angles, I then planned to sew around the base and then up the four sides to create a box.

The detailed method

Step 1

Press your main lining material with a steam iron so its wrinkle free and lay out on a flat surface. Use the card template the same size as your crochet square and lay out in two lines of three. Leave enough space to add a seam allowance of 2cm on each long side and 5cm top and bottom.

Step 1 Prepare to cut the main lining material

Step 1 Prepare to cut the main lining material

Step 2 and Step 3

Use weights to keep your card in place. Whatever you have to hand 🙂 Then take your ruler and Frixion pen and mark the position of where the three pieces of card template meet.

Then mark the seam allowances of 2cm along the long sides and 5cm at the top and bottom.

Step 2 Draw a seam allowance around the template

Step 2 Draw a seam allowance around the template

Step 3 Mark the points where the template squares meet

Step 3 Mark the points where the template squares meet and the seam allowances

Step 4

Cut along the lines so that you have two pieces of lining material 34 cm by 100cm. At the points where the card templates meet make a 1cm cut to show the position. This notch will help you line up the fabric with the interfacing later.

Step 4 Cut the two strips of lining out with notches
Step 4 Cut the two strips of lining out with notches to show the meeting points of the templates

Step 5

You don’t have to do this step – its just to show you how the lining strips will be joined. If you place them at right angles and lay the two centres together to form a cross, you can see that by sewing around the central base to hold the pieces together, and then by sewing the adjacent sides together, you will get a box. If you want a simple lining without interfacing or another layer of cotton, just on to Step X.

Step 5 Explaining how the lining strips will be joined

Step 5 This is how the lining strips will be joined

Step 6

The next thing to do is to cut out two very similar strips from your heavy weight interfacing. Lay out the templates as before, mark the points where the templates meet and mark the seam allowances. You only need a seam allowance of 2cm all the way round for the interfacing, top and bottom as well as the sides. Cut out the interfacing and cut 1cm notches at the template meeting points.

Step 6 Marking and cutting the interfacing

Step 6 Marking and cutting the interfacing

Step 7

Repeat step 6 with your unbleached cotton so that you have two strips the same size, with notches cut at the template meeting points. You can see in the picture on the right below that its easy to check you have cut every strip to the right size by placing one of your templates on the notches and measuring the seam allowances. The more accurate you are with your cutting, the easier it will be when you have to start sewing!

Step 7 Cut out the unbleached cotton and check the sizing

Step 7 Cut out the unbleached cotton and check the sizing

Step 8

In this step you will make a neat fabric sandwich. Lay one piece of the outer lining (the unbleached cotton) on your surface first, with the marks up. Lay over a piece of the interfacing, matching it up exactly at the edges and the notches. Pin together. Lay the second piece of interfacing onto the second piece of outer lining, matching it up in the same way. Pin together.

Step 8 Place your interfacing on top of your outer lining (the unbleached cotton)

Step 8 Place your interfacing on top of your outer lining (the unbleached cotton)

Step 9

Lay one sandwich on top of the other at right angles to form a cross. Make sure the notches in the four corners of what will be the base match up. Pin together at the corners of the base as shown below.

Step 9 pin together interfacing and outer lining

Step 9 Pin together interfacing and outer lining

Step 10

You then add your inner lining – the pretty fabric that you will see on the inside of the bag. Match up the notches as before. The top and bottoms will overhang the interfacing and inner lining because of the longer seam allowance. Pin through all 6 pieces of fabric at the base, REMOVING the earlier pins as you go. If you don’t know this, you will sew your pins into your base and they will be there forever. Pin securely at the base and on all of the sides so that the square holds together so that you can fold it and move it. You need to get it to the sewing machine!

Step 10 Putting the lining on top

Step 10 Putting the lining on top

Step 11

Lay a template card in the centre of the cross so that you can see the position of the 30cm by 30cm base of your lining. You will need to extend the notches in the top piece of lining fabric so that you can fold it under neatly so that its exactly 30cm across at that point.

Step 11 Deepen the notches on the top piece of lining fabric

Step 11 Deepen the notches on the top piece of lining fabric

Step 12

Fold under the material between the enlarged notches to form a neat hem on both sides of the base. You should now have something that looks like the bottom picture and you can check your base is the right size using your template.

Step 12 The base should match the template exactly

Step 12 The base should match the template exactly

Step 13

With the template in this position, use your pen to mark a line on the two other sides so that you have a marker line to sew along later. The line runs diagonally from top left to bottom right in this picture – its a bit faint!

Step 13 mark sides around template square

Step 13 mark sides around template square

Step 14

Put your fabric sandwich to one side. This is a good place to break if you don’t want to do the lining all at one time. You now need to make the pockets.

Step 14 Put to one side to make the pockets

Step 14 Put to one side to make the pockets

Step 15

Take a small piece of contrasting material for each pocket – I used two fat quarters with blue stripes. Lay your template on top and cut to the width plus 2cm seam allowance on each side. I haven’t given measurements for the depth of the pocket as its up to you how deep you want yours. Mine were actually 9cm deep when I had finished.

Step 15 cut out the pocket

Step 15 Cut out the pocket

Step 16

Fold the material neatly to form the pocket – I did mine with a flap on the outside. Iron the hems into place so that it is easier when you get to the sewing.

Step 16 making the pockets1

Step 16 making the pockets

Step 16 The folded pockets

Step 16 The folded pockets

Step 17

You now need your fabric sandwich back to pin the pockets into place. Lay it out in the cross that you had before. Pin the base of each pocket through all the pieces of material to hold it firmly in place. Pin the flap at the top, but leave that part of the pocket loose.

Step 17 Attach the pockets2

Step 17 Attach the pockets

I attached only two pockets on opposite sides but you can put pockets on all four sides by repeating the steps again on the other sides.

Step 17 attach the pockets1

Step 17 Attach the other pocket (s)

Step 18

We now turn our attention to the tops of the sides as we will create the hems now so that all the sewing can be done at once. Turn over a double hem at each top, ironing and then pinning into place.

Step 18 making the hems for the top

Step 18 Making the hems for the top

When your lining is ready to put in place in the bag, these will fold over from the front, making a neat top on which to put your blanket stitch.

Step 18 Showing how the hem works

Step 18 Showing how the hem works

Now to the sewing!

Up to this point, you haven’t done any sewing, its all preparation and construction, which makes things a lot easier if you are a novice at sewing! But now its time to move to the machine!

Step 19

You will now sew in a square around the base of your lining to join your fabric sandwich together. Take this step slowly and sew slowly. If your machine as an adjustable speed, set it to the slowest possible. Accuracy is king here.

Position your fabric sandwich so that one of the folded sides of your base is ready to sew. The other three prongs of the cross are on the left on the table in this picture. The one on the right gets in the way, so roll it up gently to keep it under control.

Put your needle in at the very corner and sew slowly down the very edge of the fold.

Step 21 Sewing the first side of the base

Step 19 Sewing the first side of the base

Step 19 Sew down the edge of the fold on the first side of the base

Step 19 Sew down the edge of the fold on the first side of the base

Step 20

When you get to the end, stop sewing and leave your needle in the fabric. You are going to swivel the whole fabric sandwich round through 90 degrees until you are ready to start sewing down the line you have drawn. Roll the right hand flap over on itself to keep it out of the way. Beware of getting other bits of the fabric sandwich in the sewing line, under where you are working.

Step 21 After turning sew down the line you have marked

Step 20 After turning sew down the line you have marked

Step 21

Stop at the corner again and then sew along the second fold in exactly the same way as the first. When you reach the corner, swivel again and then sew down the second line that you marked.

Step 25 Sewing down the third side of base

Step 21 Sewing down the third side of base

Step 22

When you reach the end you will meet the stitches where you started sewing round the base and your fabric sandwich is now joined together, giving a base of exactly 30cm by 30cm, or the size of your original template.

Step 2 The base is sewn

Step 22 The base is sewn

Step 23

The next step is to hem and fix the pockets. First pull away the pocket so that you can sew the flap down. Sew only through the pocket, not the fabric sandwich too.

Step 23 Sewing tahe flap of the pociket

Step 23 Sewing tahe flap of the pocket

Step 24

Once the top flaps of the pockets are sewn, put the pocket back into place on the fabric sandwich and sew the base of the pocket in place, going through all the layers of the material.

Step 24 Attach the pocket to the bag lining

Step 24 Attach the pocket to the bag lining

Step 24 Attach the pocket to the bag lining

Step 24 Attach the pocket to the bag lining

Step 25

Make divisions in your pockets if you want by sewing from the bottom of the pocket from the line of stitches you did in Step 24, up to the top of the pocket. If your pocket is deep you might want to sew across so hooks don’t disappear inside and get lost. You can make the divisions as wide as you like. I used things I want to put in the back to mark the size of the pockets using the Frixion pen.

Step 25 Mark the position of your pocket dividers

Step 25 Mark the position of your pocket dividers

Sew from the bottom of the pocket to the top

Step 25 Sew from the bottom of the pocket to the top

Step 25 Sew at right angles between the dividing stitches if you want the pockets less deep

Step 25 Sew at right angles between the dividing stitches if you want the pockets less deep

Step 25 The finished pocket with divisions

Step 25 The finished pocket with divisions

Step 26

You now need to sew the hems on the tops of what will be the sides of your lining. Sew along the top edges – I used the 1cm guide on my machine to get a neat, even hem.

Step 26 Sewing the top hems

Step 26 Sewing the top hems

Step 26 The hem sewn

Step 26 The hem sewn

Making the lining into a box

So far, everything has been construction and very simple sewing. This next bit is the trickiest part but, having done everything else, you can unpick your sides and re-do them if it all goes wrong.

Step 27

Start with your fabric cross opened out and concentrate on joining two sides together first.

Step 27 Open out your cross of fabric sandwich

Step 27 Open out your cross of fabric sandwich

Step 27 Bring the two sides together so that the interfacing and outer lining edges line up

Step 27 Bring the two sides together so that the interfacing and outer lining edges line up

Step 27 Bring the two sides together so that the interfacing and outer lining edges line up

Step 27 Bring the two sides together so that the interfacing and outer lining edges line up

Step 27 Once you have the sides in place, mark your sewing line using your long ruler to measure 2cm in

Step 27 Once you have the sides in place, mark your sewing line using your long ruler to measure 2cm in

Step 27 Pin the sides firmly into place, putting the pins away from the sewing line

Step 27 Pin the sides firmly into place, putting the pins away from the sewing line

Step 27 Sew slowly down the sewing line to join the first side of your box lining

Step 27 Sew slowly down the sewing line to join the first side of your box lining

Step 27 When you reach the end you should meet the stitching for your base - I didn't but I just sewed across the fill the gap

Step 27 When you reach the end you should meet the stitching for your base – I didn’t but I just sewed across the fill the gap

Steps last15

Step 28

This is how your lining will look after joining the first side. You will see how its going to work.

Steps last14

Step 29

You now repeat step 27 for the other three sides of the lining. It gets a bit fiddly but just concentrate on the two sides you are joining at a time.

Step 29 Fold over the sides and sew the second corner in the same way as the first

Step 29 Fold over the sides and sew the second corner in the same way as the first

Step 29 After sewing the second corner you have half of the box

Step 29 After sewing the second corner you have half of the box

Step 29 After sewing the third side

Step 29 After sewing the third side

Step 29 The fourth side join is the most tricky as your box forms a lump that you need to work around

Step 29 The fourth side join is the most tricky as your box forms a lump that you need to work around

Step 30

When you have finished sewing the sides you will have something like this. Oh dear. But don’t worry. It just needs tidying up.

Steps last6

Steps last5

Step 31

Trim away the excess material around the corners and the seams. Fold over the material at the top of the sides and sew two lines, one close to the edge and the other 1cm in to give a neat edging.

Step 31 Trim away the excess material around the corners and the seams

Step 31 Trim away the excess material around the corners and the seams

Step 31 The finished lining inside out

Step 31 The finished lining inside out

Step 32

As the lining was still too floppy, I then hand stitched three 30cm by 30cm squares of very stiff table protector fabric. This gave the lining enough firmness on the base and the front and back to stand up properly.

Step 31 The finished lining

Step 32 The finished lining

You could also add canvas or another stiffner or add a layer of wadding to your lining – all help make a stiffer lining.

The next step is to add blanket stitch all round the top and attach it to the bag – which will have to wait for another day!

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!!

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2 thoughts on “Making a big bag box lining

  1. Pam rapp says:

    Your bags are real popular right now… I was wondering if you could give us a “update” on your bags….so loved the lining you did..that really makes a crocheted bag get more uses..thks for sharing all your bags and talent..

  2. Susan says:

    How could you possibly think you don’t sew well? I think this is amazing! And it was so nice of you to share the tutorial. That had to be a lot of work. Thank you.

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