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Lining a Rectangular Bag

Instructions for Nonibags
By Nora J. Bellows

NOTE 1: Please look over all of the instructions before getting started.

NOTE 2: Handles can be installed either before beginning the lining process or at the end before actually sewing the lining into the bag.

NOTE 3: All embellishments should be attached to the bag before sewing in the lining.


Our lining adventure begins by measuring the bag, Figure 1. If inside dimensions are easy to obtain, use them. Otherwise, measure the outside dimensions.

Figure 1 - Measuring a Rectangular Bag

Figure 1 - Measuring a Rectangular Bag

Now use the dimensions of your Nonibag to determine the size of the lining, Figure 2. Here the bag (blue) has been disected along its edges and laid flat. The lining is shown in green. Err on the side of abundance here, since cutting off a little extra is much easier than adding even a tiny bit.

Figure 2 - Determining the Size of the Lining

Figure 2 - Determining the Size of the Lining

When using brokades or other fabrics with a directional design, two pieces need to be cut. Otherwise, the design will be upside down on one side of the bag. In this case, just add another inch to the vertical dimension in Figure 2 for another seam allowance, Figure 3. Two pieces of our example Elephant brokade are shown in Figure 4.

Figure 3 - Two-Piece Lining

Figure 3 - Two-Piece Lining

Figure 4 - Two Pieces of Elephant Brokade

Figure 4 - Two Pieces of Elephant Brokade
(The two pieces are arranged next to each other here rather than one above the other as in Figure 3)

Now is a great time to sew in a pocket, Figure 5.

Figure 5 - A Pocket

Figure 5 - A Pocket

If using a single piece, just fold over in the middle and pin along the two outside edges. With two pieces, place one on top of the other and pin on three sides, Figure 6. Either way, the "wrong" side of the fabric should be facing out.

Figure 6 - Fold and Pin

Figure 6 - Fold and Pin

Top stitch 1/2 in from the pinned edges, Figure 7.

Figure 7 - Top Stitch Along the Pinned Edges

Figure 7 - Top Stitch Along the Pinned Edges

Press open all of the seams, Figure 8.

Figure 8 - Press Open the Seams

Figure 8 - Press Open the Seams

Now comes the tricky part... Simply set the lining down on its bottom end and let the corners get pushed out, Figure 9.

Figure 9 - Form the Bottom of the Lining

Figure 9 - Form the Bottom of the Lining

Shape the corners to obtain the desired depth and press with a hot iron, Figure 10. Fold over and press again as shown in Figure 11. You have now established the rectangular shape of your lining. This may also be a good time to test fit it into the bag.

Figure 10 - Press the Corners to Desired Depth

Figure 10 - Press the Corners to Desired Depth

Figure 11 - Fold Over and Press Again

Figure 11 - Fold Over and Press Again

Next, fold over, Figure 12, and press, Figure 13, the two bottom edges between the corners.

Figure 12 - Fold Over the Remaining Two Bottom Edges

Figure 12 - Fold Over the Remaining Two Bottom Edges

Figure 13 - Press the Remaining Bottom Edges

Figure 13 - Press the Remaining Bottom Edges

Your lining should now look like Figures 14 and 15.

Figure 14 - The Shaped Lining

Figure 14 - The Shaped Lining

Figure 15 - Shaped Lining Next to Its Host Bag

Figure 15 - Shaped Lining Next to Its Host Bag

This is our last chance to test fit the lining into the bag, Figure 16. If it does not fit quite right, adjust the pressed edges to make the lining longer or wider. If it fits well, top stitch along the two edges pressed in Figure 11. If this is not done, the folded corners will become an unintended hiding place for small things like lipstick etc...

Figure 16 - Test Fit the Lining

Figure 16 - Test Fit the Lining

The lining should be about 1/2 too tall. Fold it over so that it fits just right inside the bag and press, Figure 17.

Figure 17 - Fold and Press the Top Edge

Figure 17 - Fold and Press the Top Edge

The lining is now basically done, Figure 18.

Figure 18 - The

Figure 18 - The "Finished" Lining

Most Nonibags, especially ones with flowers, bobbles, and other decorations, will keep their shape much better and look much sharper if lined with a stiffener. Don't worry, the stiffener is a snap compared to the lining.

For rectangular bags, I like to add structure to the front and back while allowing the sides to fold and the bag to close. As a result, I use three pieces of stiffener, sewn together along two bottom edges as shown in Figure 19. Try them inside the bag and trim as necessary before sewing. Don't try to make these perfect -- they add structure but are never seen.

Figure 19 - Three Pieces of Stiffener Sewn Along Bottom Edges

Figure 19 - Three Pieces of Stiffener Sewn Along Bottom Edges

Place inside and sew to the felt in a haphazard pattern of your choosing, Figure 20. Don't sew along the top -- you still need to put in a closure.

Figure 20 - Sew the Stiffener into the Bag

Figure 20 - Sew the Stiffener into the Bag

Almost done now... Put the lining inside the bag, Figure 21. In the center, cut two little slits in the lining and the backing for the snap. Push the tabs through the lining and the stiffener and fold them out, Figure 22.

Figure 21 - Place the Lining Into the Bag

Figure 21 - Place the Lining Into the Bag

Figure 22 - Install a Closure Such as This Magnetic Snap

Figure 22 - Install a Closure Such as This Magnetic Snap

If you have not yet installed the handles, do it now (see Handles 102). Then pin the lining in place and sew it to the bag, Figure 23.

Figure 23 - Pin and Sew in the Handles and the Lining

Figure 23 - Pin and Sew in the Handles and the Lining

Congratulations -- your Nonibag is finished inside and out!