Lining Your Knitted Bag, Part II

The INSIDE of the Ms. Poppins' Bag

Knitted stitches have a lovely drape, which is one reason we love them so! That drape is created by having lots of small holes between the yarn fibers—in general, the bigger the holes, the more drape something has. Think of the difference in drape between a felted piece of knitting, where the holes between stitches have been compressed together, and a traditional lace shawl, where the holes are the whole point of the knitting!

Those lovely holes can cause problems when what you are knitting is a bag meant to hold stuff, however. How do you keep your keys (or your knitting needles!) from poking out through the sides of your hand-knitted bag?

Felting the knitted fabric is one solution. But felted or unfelted, a separate sturdy inner lining not only solves the poke-through problem, but will give your bag a more professional finish, too.

I don't have a fabric store nearby, so I often have to get a little creative about what to use for my bag linings. If you are lucky enough to have a local fabric store, then just walk around there for a few minutes—you'll find plenty of ideas!

Alternative Bag Lining Ideas:

Plastic/vinyl shower curtains: Find a cheap one on sale, cut it to size, and you'll have a durable, wipe-clean-able lining for your bag!

Cloth napkins: I buy linen or cotton/poly dinner napkins at the discount store to match my yarn. Or why not find a cloth napkin in a colorful print to line your bag? (Imagine opening the pink bag above only to find images of bright, cheerful cherries peeking out at you.)

Partly worn-out canvas tote bags: Do you have a tote bag with a broken handle, or an ink stain, or a hole in it? The non-ruined part of the tote will make an excellent lining fabric.

Old blue jeans: Finding it hard to part with a favorite pair of blue jeans that are the wrong size to wear? Use the denim as a bag liner and you can carry your favorite jeans everywhere you go.

Make a paper pattern for your lining:

After knitting the pieces of your bag, lay them flat on a large paper bag and draw around the edges with a pencil. Cut along the pencil lines, and you have the perfect pattern! Be sure to plan ahead: Do you want to fold the unfinished edges of the lining fabric under, or add a seam somewhere? If the answer is yes, draw a second pencil line outside the first—the outer line is your cutting line, and the inner line is your "fold-under" (or seaming) line.

Don't forget to handle your handles!

If your bag handles are knitted, and you want to give them a little more stability, consider stitching or gluing strips of the lining material (with raw edges folded under, if necessary) to the inside of each handle. The outside of the handle will still show off your pretty knitted stitches, but the extra layer of fabric will keep the handle from stretching or flopping around.

Knitting Needle Knitting Bag

More reader ideas:

From Patricia: 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.

From Susanne: 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.

From Kat: I was given some old but not tattered curtains to strip up for making rugs. They will make absolutely PERFECT linings.

From Lynn M: I use bandanas or scarves to line knit bags. They're already hemmed, come in many colors and patterns, and you can usually find the right size for your bag.

From Ada: 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.

Thanks to EVERYONE who commented about their bags this week! So many great ideas…!

Next week: We start a new regular feature on Knitting Daily—come check it out!

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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28 thoughts on “Lining Your Knitted Bag, Part II

  1. I wish someone would explain how to cut fabric to get the right size liner for a given bag, especially when the bag is already felted and not in pieces. 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?

  2. Thanks for this series of posts, Sandi. I’ve found them to be very helpful. I was planning to cast on for a sweater as my next project, but I might have to make a bag instead…

  3. I’m looking forward to your new feature. And thanks for the newest suggestions for lining a bag. Your readers had some inspiring ideas also. But I’m curious, Sandi. Whatever happened to the photos of the Bonsai Tunic? I know you had to rip back, but I would love to see the pictures.

  4. Just a story about the importance of linings. Once upon a time I had a boyfriend who insisted I weave a knitting bag (I was a beginning weaver then) so that I could stop carrying plastic bags with needles sticking out. I loved my new knitting bag. Many years later,still using it, I carried it out to the car for a weekend trip and a needle stuck out through the by-now old bag and made a puncture wound in my calf. I didn’t know what that funny wet feeling was until my sandal filled up with blood…

  5. The quickest way to make a bag lining: Use felt pieces which can be purchased from any craft store. Lay 2 pieces on top of each other, (you may have to join pieces to match the size of your bag), then add approx 1 inch for at the top and 1 inch at each side, and backstitch the two side seams together. Turn to the right side and slip the wrong side of the lining into the bag, press to the bottom and then sew around the top, turning a hem for added strength. Not too much hand sewing to do. It always worked for me and I have made approximately 35 bags over the last few years. Happy bag making. Kath from UK

  6. My Grandma George used to knit bags out of old bread wrappers….I have used a couple of them to line my knitting bags…now I always have a part of her with me! Karen M.

  7. Instead of “flat” garter stitched handles, knit your handles in the round, with dpns. Make the tube as long and as wide as you need it, then insert the same lining fabric or something even stiffer into the tube before you sew it to the bag. This will take some of the weight off the knitted stitches and your handles will wear better.

  8. I have before me, again, Amanda’s Squatty Sidekick pattern and am wondering why the instructions for making the needle-felted closure require the purchase of another magazine? or are they self evident when I get to that place?

  9. Felt is sometimes available by the yard, too, which is handy if you’re lining a larger bag.

    It is possible to use a different stitch pattern than the one given in a hat (or other) pattern. You may need to adjust the number of stitches slightly to match the number needed for the pattern multiple. Several reference books and stitch dictionaries give detailed instructions for this. The one that comes to mind off-hand is Barbara Abbey’s “Complete Book of Knitting.” I think I’ve seen hat patterns that used the berry stitch, but I’m not sure where. Sorry.

  10. I have a suggestion onHow to keep the the cute knitting/crocheting bag from slipping off of the knitting needles…place a needle cap on it with a little glue-super glue-to keep it in place, or try making a bead from polymer clay, find a beautiful bead to glue on the end of the needles and never have your bag slip off the end. Mary K;)

  11. FYI-using vinyl shower curtain to line a bag just isn’t a good idea. The needles poke thru it. I have tried it, and so this comes from experience. They do, however, make nifty circular needle cases. I made pockets with the curtain, and punched a hole thru the corner so I could thread several on a binder ring. I folded the vinyl piece up, leaving myself enough for a foldover flap. The flap was easily closed by using a loop and button closure.

  12. Another great bag liner that most everyone has floating around their kitchen is a well used linen tea towel. These can be recycled into a lovely liner and there’s usually enough material to also make a pocket or two for holding smaller items.

  13. I want to line a bag!! All of the hints and tips are great, but how do you actually sew it in without the stitches showing on the right side? *Any* help would be appreciated!

  14. My husband has suggested lining my bag with our pillow cases. Yes I need a BIG bag. I will try using the ‘button attaching. I have 3 cans of buttons and I feel certain that I will be able to give character to my bag with the may differnt styles I have collected over the years. On the handles I will be making a tube and inserting plastic tubing which we happen to have laying around.

  15. re” handles for a bag. I have used clear plastic tubing from hardware store. about half in diameter. thread yarn thru the tube, leave enought at each end to attach to bag and the yarn shows thru the tube to co-ordinate with bag.
    Great articles, I get great ideas from reading them

  16. Knitting Needle Sizes:

    I’m living in Birmingham, UK, for fall semester, and need to purchase some very tiny, short, double-point needles to repair a merino wool sweater. Tiny means perhaps size 0 or smaller.

    Are knitting needle sizes in the UK the same as European sizes? Or are they yet another size, to differentiate from continental Europe and American needles?

    Also, I’m having a bear of a time even finding a knitting shop in B’ham, much less a good one. Can anyone help?

    Thank you!

  17. Hi there! These posts came at a good time for me, because just a few minutes ago, I felted my first bag: Amanda’s Squatty Sidekick! I know I’m a bit late getting in on the action with that pattern, but I’m still a newbie and this is my first felting project. I have learned a few things: 1. Felting is Fun!! 2. I hate my circular needles because the cable kinks up, and wool on metal needles is way too slippery a combination. 3. Felting is Fun!! (Just had to say that again.)

    Has anyone lined this particular bag? I am thinking of adding decorative stitching at the edges of the bag and attaching the lining that way. I knitted it in Paton’s Classic “worn denim,” and I have some “new denim” I could do the stitching with – a perfect purse to use with jeans. Just wondering if anyone has fabric suggestions…

  18. very interesting site. Can ou give me a pattern for a felted purse using an already felted sweater. Hate to toss the sweater which was “felted” by mistake and would like to make a purse from it. M.H.

  19. Any advice on lining a jacket (actually a larger sized cardigan)? Its made of 98 %wool, thought it would be a warm coat…indoors, near hot in it, went out side and the first breeze chilled me pretty good. Its gorgeous though, I need to winter proof it.

  20. I have been knitting bags like crazy! I sew all my linings by hand. I lined one of my bags using one of my husband’s old shirts. I liked the pattern and it went well with the color of yarn I used to knit the bag. When I cut out the lining from the shirt, I made sure I cut the area that had a pocket. The pocket became my cell phone holder and my friends thought it was a clever idea.