Lining Your Knitted Bag, Part I

Knitting Needle Knitting Bag

The comments from Monday's post on knitting bags were a hoot! I feel so much better knowing that I am not alone in my knitting bag addiction. Bagaholics, bag ladies, and bag pigs (thank you, Merna S.!), unite! And what can we bag geeks say to Ms. Eliza, our friend who has never used a knitting bag and asks what she has been missing? Perhaps just this: Try a knitting bag. Any bag. You'll never look back.

If you'd like some suggestions as to what to use for a knitting bag: Read through the comments. The options range from cute to exotic, clever to practical: baby diaper totes (Katie F. and others), gift bags, drawstring bags, lined baskets, bowling bags (Elsa X.), children's suitcases (Donovan B.), plastic zippered bags that curtains and sheets are sold in, briefcases, bank deposit zippered bags, and metal lunchboxes (Laura L. and others), to name just a few favorites.

Thanks to you all, I now have an advanced case of Bag Lust. (I shall attempt to stay away from stores during this flare-up of my addiction. My husband thanks you for supporting me in this endeavor. However, I don't think he'd mind if I were to just get out some pink yarn and cast on for the Knitting Needle Knitting Bag. Surely not.)

One insightful comment came from Cagey44, who says she needs "Time-Out Bags for Bad Knitting to sit and contemplate its ways while I am working on its brethren." I agree: Sometimes a time-out works wonders for my troublesome knitting, too!

I leave you with a final hilarious tip from Brenda S.: "It wouldn't be a knitting bag without a corkscrew."

The INSIDE of the Ms. Poppins' Bag

Bag-Lining Strategies

Rosie W. said: "I'm sorely tempted to knit this bag (despite my UFO count being in double digits too) but I would want a lining, and I don't sew, or have a sewing machine, so that may keep me safe."

Rosie, I am about to take you right out of the Safe Zone, sorry about that. Like you, not every knitter has a sewing machine, and not everyone enjoys extended bouts of hand-sewing. What if I told you there were ways to line your knitted bags without a sewing machine, and without a lot of hand-stitching? (Of course, you can use a sewing machine if you like…)

Alternative ideas for attaching linings:

Buttons: If you have large enough "holes" in your knitted fabric, consider using buttons to attach a lining. Sew the buttons onto the WRONG side of the lining, the side that will face your knitted fabric. Put the lining inside the bag, and gently push the buttons through to the outside of the bag. Use little buttons or big ones; sew the buttons in a line along the top of the bag for a classic look…or put them randomly all over for a fun and funky touch.

Creative Stitchery: Use a matching (or contrasting!) yarn or embroidery floss and simple, slightly oversized stitches to sew through both layers of lining and knitting. Some easy stitches that will give great results are blanket stitch, whipstitch, running stitch, and backstitch. I used running stitches to attach a purchased linen napkin to the inside of the Ms. Poppins' Bag (see photo).

The OUTSIDE of Ms. Poppins' Bag

Snaps: Like a buttoned-in lining, a snap-in lining has the advantage of being removable and thus washable. However, the snaps won't show on the outside like buttons will.

Hot Glue Gunnery: I have never tried this, but a friend of mine swears by using a hot glue gun to attach linings to the inside of her bags. Anyone out there brave enough to try this?

Notice that I am not recommending Velcro, even though it seems like a logical choice. If you are making a knitted handbag that will not be carrying yarn, then Velcro might work beautifully. However, Velcro eats yarn, so don't use it in your knitted knitting bags!

Friday, we'll talk about creative, durable materials you can use for the lining fabric itself. (You might be surprised to know that you don't need to have a fabric store nearby for most of these ideas.)

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I'm finishing up a pair of Evelyn Clark's Waving Lace Socks for a friend whilst awaiting the fate of the yarn for Nicholas' cabled pullover.

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59 thoughts on “Lining Your Knitted Bag, Part I

  1. I’m working on a knitting bag now that I’m planning to add a lining (btw, quarter flats from the quilting section make excellent linings, or even quick tote bags for sewers). But first I have to figure out how to do the handles and top edge! I’m making the bag to felt, so I feel that the handles should be felted too, I just can’t decide if I should knit and felt them separately and then sew them on or knit them with the bag (e.g., an i-cord trim that flows into the handles). decisions, decisions!

  2. I’ve never considered buttoning a lining in. Since I don’t sew, I use the tape that you iron between fabric when I need to do something that would require simple sewing. Obviously that wouldn’t work to attach it to the bag…but buttons! Thanks, Sandi.

  3. I love the button idea.

    Another idea – which you may address later – are the knitting needles used in the making of the bag. Keep expenses down by making your own out of dowels and a knobby button glued to the end. You can use a file to make the pointy end. My hubby has made several large sizes for me (pine dowels are too weak for the little dpn needle sizes).

  4. Sandi, how could you? I bought some beautiful pinky-purple buttons this summer and haven’t known how to use them! Now what excuse do I have?!

    I’m off to aquire some nice pink yarn this weekend, I think…

  5. Sandi — I’m a bag ho. I am on a “zero-gain” restriction at my house. I’m currently knitting an open-weave french market bag (pattern on out of hemp. I can ball it up and put it inside another bag, then whip it out when I need extra capacity. I’ve taken to putting UFO’s (also in double digits) into my stash of tote bags… problem is, I have knitting ADD. I work on a project for a while and move on (like when I have to travel and take a more portable project along). I have tote bags all over my house full of UFOs. Thanks for this newest addition to the bag stash! Beth Smith, Seattle

  6. I have an odd thing that I use as one (!!) of my knitting bags. Before I was born, my mother made this little bag, which is perfect for small projects, like socks, which I seem to be addicted to lately. It is the leg from a pair of jeans. She cut it of, probably just under the knee (from the bottom hem up), and seemed the rough edge – instant bag! She added a thick string for a handle, and I added snaps to it, and I love it!

  7. It really is simple enough to line a bag by sewing a sturdy fabric together. You need MINIMAL sewing skills and will quickly improve. Start with a change purse if you are nervous about the end result, and you will quickly build your confidence (and create a professional looking piece inside AND out)

  8. This could not have come at a better time. While running through Penn Station to catch my train yesterday, I heard the distinct sound of aluminum dpn’s hitting tile flooring. Initially I said…gee, that sounds like a knitting needle hitting the floor, how strange. then I looked into my felted knitting bag and – GASP – realized it was my needles which had fallen out of the sleeve I was knitting. Of the 4, three were missing (por stitches!) – two were in the bag, and the rogue was the one making all the noise. I quickly looked for it – but with all those commuter feet it was impossible. This weekend’s project – line the bag once and for all! Karen Clark, Morris Plains, NJ

  9. My Time-Out bags aren’t bags at all, but those clear plastic Sterlite tubs with lids, about 12″ x 18″. They stack nicely to wait on the shelf; they can even be used next to my chair, but when that particular UFO finally makes it to the traveling stage, into a canvas bag it goes.

  10. Hot Glue Gunnery! I have added felted flowers this way and they work great. So if I can do it on the outside, it just may work on the inside. But I would only do this on felted bags. I too am a bag-a-holic and knit samples for a shop in South Florida.

  11. More recycling ideas for the lining..and I love the button idea too
    an old pillow case-you can cut to size and blanket stitch,an old stiff fabic T shirt, so not too much give, a child’s favorite ole Ts hirt they grew out of and you like reminders of their sweet childhoodRECYCLE REUSE AND KNIT

  12. I like to use ready made bags to line my knitted bags. The silk taffeta bags from Lantern Moon are perfect, snip off the handles and whip stitch it in! I am not very good with needle and thread, but this I can manage with no trouble at all.

  13. I sew, but I also love short-cuts. I make my lining as a separate bag-inside-the-bag. Only attaching lining to the bag along the top- buttons, snaps, whatever works! Easy to change lining when needed. Cut fabric to shape/size, use iron-on seam tape or other fusible strips along seams, turn inside out (so you don’t see the seams when you look inside bag)- attach to top edge of your new bag w/buttons or snaps. No sew

  14. Oh my – you’ve got to try Lorna Miser’s fused lining technique! No sewing, just cut the fabric and the “Heat ‘n Bond” brand fusing material, iron, and presto! it’s a fully lined purse. The fusing also stabilizes the knitting. Lorna gives classes on her technique and has recently published a book “Knit & Fused Purses” published by American School. I won 2nd prize at the California State Fair for a tote that i knit where I used Lorna’s technique after taking her class.

  15. I love to use the plasitc zipered bags that my sheets and pillow cases come in! They are wonderful travelers and can actually fit in an existing bag as a lining themselves. I have a Baby Surprize Jacket in one at the moment. I use one as the lining for my felted project bag made awhile back. Seems like I never turn down a free carry bag or tote from all the workshops I attend and tehy all end up as knitting project bags. I even have a large woven willow basket near my favorite chair for overflow and we haven’t even spoken about stash management…

  16. Hello Everyone,
    Let’s face it; knitting is a labor of love – you probably spent hours on that bag. You have probably invested some money in the yarn, too. Why would you not take the same care with your lining that you did with your bag? Just like a beautifully made garment, the lining of a bag is what keeps it sturdy, defines its shape, and makes it last.

    I have made hundreds of bags and sewn in many types of linings – simple and complex but all of them are of a quality to match the effort I put into knitting the bag. The thought of using a glue gun, or poking buttons through the knitting (yes, they will make your bag sag!!!) is really not something I recommend.

    My local drycleaner does a wonderful job with basic sewing; I am sure yours would sew the lining into your beautiful handknit bag for *minimal* cost. Looking for a more detailed couture-like finish with zippers and snaps? Talk to your local tailor.

    C’mon ladies, finish your work with pride! You are worth it!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I had some many bag-projects I was avoiding because I didn’t know what to do without a sewing machine. Now I can become a bag pig, too! 🙂

  18. Hooray! Now I know what to do with that t-shirt my mother-in-law gave me that I never could wear (too small). It would make a great knitting bag lining and she would approve ’cause she stitches, too. Thanks, Barbara R.

  19. The bag lining info is great! Even for an outcast such as myself, who only crochets! BAS (Bag Acquisition Syndrome) lives! I like to crochet at the cinema and often use a lingerie laundry bag to keep my wip in. It doesn’t russle (unlike plastic bags) and as my hook is not pointy it won’t stick through like needles would. When it’s time to leave, it’s easily stuffed into the top of the handbag. JacqBrisbane (Qld Aust)

  20. Didn’t get to see your Daily Post on the beautiful pink knitting bag and was so happy to see that their are other knitters like me! Right now I have 7 beautiful UFO’s just waiting to be finished in different Vera Bradley bags – and I know from each print what is in each bag! But when I saw the pink knitted bag all I could think of “my what a beautiful bag to hold my knitting! Thanks to all for being so understanding!

  21. In response to emlyn m, who is knitting a bag to felt, I must admit, felted bags to hold knitting projects is my addiction. The handles, if they are knitted are much easier to sew on BEFORE the bag is felted, as the knitting turns into heavy wool fabric that is hard to sew through. I have used I rods with kind of square patches at the bottom to sew to the bag when I want a narrower 2 strap version. I have also used a single wide strap knit in garter stich (it doesn’t roll on the endges like stockinette st.) Either way I did sew them on prior to felting. The only things I have sewed on later are pockets, and like I said, it’s much harder. j shank

  22. I have always had the idea of lining a bag with parts of an old pair of pants, the top part, turned inside out, so that you can use the pockets as ‘pockets’. Just have not been brave enough to experiment with it. But the idea keeps popping up and I will give it a try. A number of jeans are just waiting to be used again as they do not fit me anymore. hehe. Susanne

  23. I enjoy all of the patterns, especially bag patterns! They are appreciated gifts, if you can bear to part with them! Try lining your bags with favorite t-shirts that you don’t wear, but can’t bear to part with either. (Guilty). Washable, totally softened and you still get the pleasure of seeing an old friend when you look into your bag! Most t-shirts have more than enough fabric to use and you can use the sleeves for small pockets if they are regular T’s. Cut as desired and sew with a running stitch if you prefer hand sewing, they won’t unravel, just maybe curl over a little along the seam.

  24. I thought I was the only one who would use bank deposit bags, baggies, and metal lunch boxes for knitting. I am delighted that other knitters share my delight in these practical carry-alongs!

  25. It’s funny you should ask about glue-gunning in a lining. My first knitting “bag” was actually a wine/picnic basket I found cheap at a garage sale. I glued in a pretty calico fabric an it lasted me for years. The closing top was a real plus — when I remembered to use them. Otherwise my kittens though the cosy basket was filled with wool to keep them cozy.

  26. A couple of years ago, I took a class in finishing bags from Lorna Miser, the original owner and creator of Lorna’s Laces yarns. Some great tricks I learned from her included using double-sides adhesive web to bond fabric to the inside of a knit bag (works for felted and unfelted bags, and/or use of adhesive web to “seam a lining, then use a simple “whip-stitch” to secure the lining to the top of the inside of the bag. For durable lining fabric, one idea was to use canvas or synthetic cloth bag cut to the shape of your bag – even easier if you have an old cloth bag that fits inside your knitted bag – just cut it to the right height and whipstitch the top of the bags together. If you have a chance to take this class ever, it’s well worth it.

  27. Think this is excellent, just have to get the time to make it, I can sew so I will make an inner lining for it. Working and visiting ill mother in hospital & looking after blind husband and get a bit tired in the early evening. Keep up the good patterns I love them. Karen

  28. For knitting at home, I use a big woven grass “Bolga” basket from Ghana–roomy enough for several projects and very pretty, too! But for small on-the-run projects, my bag of choice lately is a very unglamorous gallon size ziploc bag! I just throw it into my everyday shoulder bag. Keeps everything nice and safe. Fewer bags to carry and no worries about snagged yarn or stray needles!

  29. I line my knitted bags with canvas bags from the craft stores. You might have to cut them down a bit, but I turn them wrong side out and have a really nice lining for my purses… can even knit your handle over the canvas handles, reinforcing and preventing stretching….happy knitting….a Knutty Knitter in Mississippi

  30. Lots of fun knitting bag ideas, thought I’d throw mine in. Take a pair of shorts or jeans that no longer fit you or a member of your family or hit yard sales. Cut them across at the crotch, seam, sew across the corners for a bit of a flat bottom if desired, thread a nylon web strap through the belt loops that’s the desired length, stitch the ends together and you’re good to go. An instant knitting bag with built in pockets. If you use hiking shorts with velcro on the pockets you never have to worry about stuff falling out on the car floor.

  31. Belated maybe, but I like the Vera Bradley diaper bag for a knitting bag; large, roomy, fashionable, and has pockets on either end for a water bottle and a recycled wide-mouthed plastic juice bottle (approx 16 oz) that holds peanuts, M&Ms or any other pourable munchies (right into the mouth) keeping the hands clean to knit.

  32. HANDknitters can perform stitch manipulations that knitting machines canNOT. So, why do we continue to produce knitted pieces of material that is SEWN together like some ordinary piece of cut-out material? This pattern is only small example. I will make it because I love the pattern stitch. However, mine will have no seam on the bottom. I will pick up stitches along the cast-on of one side to work the other side. Also, having already knit one bag on inflexible handles (and found it nearly useless since I can’t put anything in that’s wider than the smallish gap between the handles), I will add a generous gusset on the sides … Or, better yet I will work a strip – 4 to 6 inches wide – long enough to go down one side, along the bottom, and up the other side – and pick up stitches along the middle to work the front and back of the bag. As I knit each part, I will eliminate ALL sewing-up by picking up stitches from the strip at each end of the row as I go along. When I reach the end, it will be the END! Oh, yeah – the straps. These will be knit directly from the live stitches on the handle-needles on one side and interspersed between the corresponding stitches on the opposite handle-needle = no sewing up of straps either! The only cast-on and cast-off rows will be on the ends of my gusset!

  33. And why not use VelCro to attach a lining? If one places the hook (CROchet in French) side of the VelCro on the wrong side of the lining and the VELvet side sewn to the inside of the knitted bag and takes great care when inserting the liner, I see no valid reason to avoid VelCro for attaching a lining.

  34. My favorite knitting bag is a back pack. It’s large enough to hold a sweater project, yarn and the a book or two. Plus all those wonderfull extra compatments for accesories, water/umbrella and small purse. If it gets heavy- sling on one shoulder or two.
    Backpacks come in wonderful colors and sizes and are always packed and ready to go.

  35. Thanks for the ideas! I have a sewing machine that I received last year for that reason and have never used it (I’m scared to). I guess I have to get out of my safe zone.

  36. I’ve been sewing longer than knitting, so linings have never been a problem for me. However, I love the creative attaching ideas!

    I just knitted up a little fair isle bag as a surprise gift. I want to attach one to shield the foats but exactly how to attach the lining has been something I’ve been quibbling over.

    Today’s article solved my problem. The bag happens to have two rows of decorative eyelet at the top. They’ll be perfect for attaching a lining with buttons!

  37. OK – NOW you’ve done it. I was resisting quite well. Until I saw that bag inside out, that is. A lining is absolutely NO work at all!! That was my hold — I didn’t know for sure how to do one, and didn’t want to take the time to try. But now…
    I was given some old but not tattered curtains to strip up for making rugs. They will make absolutely PERFECT linings.
    And for color coordinating and/or accenting, I can see a slightly lacy bag lined with an out-grown T-shirt.
    And …
    And …
    My mind is totally reeling now! I SO can’t wait for the weekend!!!!

  38. We are going away for the weekend. I am “trying” not to overpack–my knitting that is!
    I will take my lovely ultra alpaca shrug to maybe finish–must pick up 292 stitches around the neck open and knit the ribbing; the Knit and Tonic child’s shrug, which is so interesting to watch knit up in self-striping sock yarn; and yarn to swatch for a little baby sweater from Sock Pixie. I also need to start the first of two EZ BSJ for someone. It’s only a 3-day weekend after all.
    Oh how I wish I did not have to work to support the habit I am becoming so accustomed to doing.
    And then you put up more patterns of interest.


  39. DECREASE ROWS–When are they worked? The picture, shows the KNITTING NEEDLE KNITTING BAG has sloping sides, but in the instructions it looks like there is only one decrease row prior to the final two rows.

  40. Sandi,

    What would your husband say about encouraging me to pick up other people’s addictions!?

    Unfortunately (for me), I just looked at the Bag Style preview online and I may have to convert to the world of knitted or knitting bags… or can I resist?

    (I have to confess that I’m still not 100% sure when I’d use a knitting bag, except to protect and organize the knitting that’s floating around in my daily tote bag. I’ll just be the odd one out in this discussion.)

  41. Velcro does make a “snag-less” product. It’s only white, but it works quite well. The hook and loop are on the same side, so you cut 2 equal lengths of from one piece. I used it last year on an acrylic sweater for my 2 year old. It can be hard to find, so when I do, I buy 2 packs.

  42. I was just reading your blog after a very tough day in the OR as a registered nurse and I came up with an idea – What if you used fusable interfacing for attaching the lining. I’m thinking that if you didn’t have a sewing machine and needed to hand sew or glue gun the fabric, why not use fusable interfacing which might also give a little bit of body to the bag? Sincerely, Barbara J.

  43. I have a comment about the comfy red sock pattern… I would love to knit a pair of socks and have searched for a pattern for begininers.. I’m terrified of double points… can anyone help me?????

  44. Hi LINDA G – Save yourself the heartache with doublepoints and use either one long or two shorter circular needles – they make sock knitting a lot easier. For guidance on how to knit socks, check out Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitting without Tears”, and of course (just got mine in the mail!) the fantastic new Vogue Knitting book: “The Ultimate Sock Book”.

  45. I wish someone would explain how to cut fabric to get the right size liner for a given bag. I have a sewing machine, but I know nothing about making things, patterns, etc.

    Also, I made the Stitch n’ Bitch marsupial bag and felted it and bought the snaps, and I cannot figure out how to attach them without them showing through. I notice also suggest using snaps to attach liners, but how is it they don’t show though. What are they attaching to?

  46. In response to Sherry H., it looks like the sloping sides are caused by the knitting being bunched up a bit to fit on the needles.

    I often convert patterns to seamless versions myself, but sometimes a well-sewn seam looks better than the alternative or may be a decorative feature. For some weightier things the seam is there to add stability as much as to join the pieces.

    I agree that Velcro on the outside of a lining shouldn’t present a problem, though I prefer hand-stitching to attach them.

    I haven’t tried the fused technique yet, but it does sound ideal to give a finer or less dense knit enough body to make a good bag.

  47. When I was forced(?) by you to take stock of my UFO’s I discovered a newborn sweater minus one sleeve. The youngest child in the family turns 5 this year. Now I’ll have to look at the rest critcally – or not.

  48. This is a great article but where do I go to learn more about bag lining strategies. Like Rose W. I have never really sewed anything and don’t have a sewing machine. Actually the concept of having to line the bag scares me so any suggestions would be so appreciated.