How to Add a Lining to a Bag or Purse

My friend was selling gorgeous hand-crafted purses made by a group of women in Kenya and I could not resist this purse – beautiful deep red color, hand woven and all leather straps that are super comfortable on my shoulder. 🙂

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I absolutely love this purse! I am so excited because I have not been able to find a purse that I like enough to purchase in a long time. For the past 10-15 years, I’ve made my own purses because I found one style that was comfortable and convenient. I would use the purse until it wore out and then make another in a different fabric. When I saw this purse, I took it as a sign that it is time for something different. 🙂

The one thing I did not like about this purse is that it had no purse lining or interior pockets of any sort. As I was wishing that this purse had the lining that I love in my handmade ones, an idea started to form – what if I made my own purse lining? After looking over the purse, I thought it just might work and decided to give it a try.

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I decided I wanted something bold for the purse lining and in a contrasting color so I picked this bright blue pattern. Then I found some aqua and silver herringbone to make the pockets out of.

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Since I couldn’t measure the purse inside flat, I had to do a little bit of estimating in some places. I measured around the purse and added 1/2 inch seam allowance for the length and measured top to bottom for the depth. The bottom of the purse is a circle, so I found a plate that was just a little bigger than the bottom of the purse and used that as a template to make a circle. I ironed fairly stiff interfacing to the wrong side of both of the fabric pieces. I then made two flat pockets and one zipper pocket to attach to the lining. The instructions for the pockets are in my previous posts here: flat, zipper.

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I folded the large rectangle piece right sides together and pinned the side.

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Then, I stitched up the side.

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I added a purse snap so that the sides would snap together if I didn’t take the time to latch the leather piece.

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To mark where the purse snap goes, I fold the fabric in half – this will tell me where the middle is. I mark a small dot with a pen about 1-1 1/2 inches from the top (need to leave room for the folding the fabric over). I then fold the fabric to mark the other side. If I did this correctly, the snaps should like up just right.

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Now, I use that dot to line up with the center hole of the snap back and mark the two long holes. I need to make slits along these lines to push the back of the snap through the fabric.

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I like to use a seam ripper to make the slits. Carefully and keeping good control, I snip just along each line. You can put a pin across the end of the line if you are worried about cutting too far. This will stop the seam ripper from cutting too much.

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Push the snap through from the right side of the fabric.

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Make sure it goes through both the fabric and interfacing.

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Slide the snap back on.

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Hammer the tabs flat. Once the tabs spread a bit, I try to hammer right in the middle so that the tab lays flat instead of rounding over.purse lining 13

I think these purse snaps give the lining a nice finished look.

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The next step is to attach the bottom circle. Anytime you are attaching a circle to a straight piece of fabric, you need to make small slits into the straight piece in order to get the fabric to lay correctly and attach evenly. I just cut small slits about 1/2 inch apart all the way around.

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Laying the fabrics right sides together, I started pinning. I find the best way to attach circles is to fold everything in half and match up at the fold on each side. Then fold the opposite way and pin those sides. Working back and forth allows the circle to attach evenly. If you have to ease the fabric in spots, at least it is uniform.

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Keep pinning until it’s all attached.

purse lining 18Sew all around. Trim the excess fabric so that it doesn’t bunch up in the bottom of the purse.

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Looks pretty good so far, I think.

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Fold down 1/2 inch form the top and press in place.

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Push the lining down into the purse and pin in place. This was a little tough because of the this woven material. I stabbed myself with those pins a bunch of times! 🙁

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Stitch in place. I was able to stitch this on my machine although it was a little tricky and needed a good bit of muscle to maneuver the purse without breaking a needle. I was actually surprised because I anticipating having to hand stitch this part. It just seemed to work out well as the leather did not get in the way and the woven material was soft enough to sew through.

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I am super happy with this purse!! It’s a pretty color, a little different than my usual style and with the lining it’s very organized and efficient! I’ve been using this for a couple of weeks and can already feel it breaking in a bit. When I started this project, I envisioned this purse exactly as it turned out. Not all projects have this kind of happy ending, so I’m pleased to say that this has been a super satisfying project. 🙂