Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Tutorial for Lining a Felted Bag -- Part One

A few folks have asked me how I line my felted bags. Please understand that I am not a "sewer" by any stretch of the imagination. This is just how I go about lining my bags. First, I choose a remnant of either upholstery or drapery fabric. I go with something fun, but also lighter colored. Dark linings make it difficult to see inside the bag. Once the bag has been felted and is dry, I double my fabric with right sides facing and lay the bag on top. I use the bag itself as a "pattern" and just cut around it leaving maybe a 1/2" seam allowance. If the bag has a flat bottom (let's say 2") I cut the lining about 2 1/2 " longer than the height of the bag. That extra 2 1/2" will become the bottom of the lining.

I almost always put 1 or 2 pockets in my linings. In very small bags, I stick with 1 pocket, because 2 would take up the whole inside of the bag. In medium or large bags, I put in two pockets. I cut two rectangles of fabric, about an inch bigger than I want my finished pockets. I turn the raw edges under and press. Next, I bring my little squares to my sewing machine (an inheritance from my Grandma) and sew a hem on the top of the pockets which will be the open side. I try to position my pockets in the same place on both sides of the lining and pin and sew. It only takes me a couple of minutes to do this, but I think pockets inside the bag are well worth the effort.
Place the right sides of the lining pieces together and sew the side and bottom seams. Test fit the lining in the felted bag. I like my linings to be just a tad bigger than the felted bags. Felt will stretch a bit with wear, and I like to plan ahead so my linings will still fit. If I need to take a little tuck in the top of the lining, it doesn't show much, and the lining will fit properly for a longer period of time.

I really try to make my bags so that they will survive years of hard use. I use double worsted weight yarn to make my felt thick and heavier fabrics for my linings. The heavier lining will withstand car keys and pens poking it.

The next step is to deal with the bottom of the bag. If the bag has a flat bottom, I like to reinforce that shape somehow. Over the years, I've used various materials to do this: 1/4" plywood, cut to fit; plastic canvas sewed to the felt; heavyweight interfacing sewn in place. The plastic canvas or interfacing are my favorite materials. Continuing with a flat bottomed bag, I measure up from the bottom corners of the lining and sew diagonally to make a square bottom in the lining which matches the bottom of the bag. The interfacing or plastic canvas is sandwiched between the felt and the lining.

If I am using a magnetic snap closure, I put it into the lining at this point. I always reinforce the back of the snap with either extra pieces of lining material, interfacing, or even leather. Make sure both halves of your snaps line up so that the lining closes to a smooth finish. If I am using a zipper, I like to hand-sew that in place with a secure backstitch and heavy thread. I then fold the lining and press so that when it is sewn in place it will cover my backstitching on the zipper.

I press the top of the lining before I start to sew it in place. I use a blind stitch and regular weight thread which is doubled. I try to keep the stitches as hidden as possible.
Let's take a look at a couple of examples. I just grabbed a couple of my finished bags, one with a round bottom and one with a square bottom. Let's look at the round bottomed one first.

Here is a basic round bottomed bag. It's a bit hard to tell, but I carried a royal blue and a navy blue yarn, so it is a rich blue color with a bit of depth to the color. There is a tab with a handmade embelishment. Basic felted I-cord handles.
Here's a closeup of the handmade pin I added to the tab. I make all sorts of embelishments out of driftwood, leather, glass beads, etc. That is my business card next to it, so you can get an idea of the size.

This bag is closed with a zipper. This picture shows the top with the zipper closed.

Now I've turned the bag inside out so you can see the lining. This is a light blue floral drapery fabric. There are two large pockets, one on each side. Because the bag is inside out and the tab and handles are pulling it, the shape looks a bit wonky, but it is symmetrical. I like to tell the folks who purchase my bags that they look as good inside out as right side out. I hope that the effort I put into my linings will speak to the care and quality I try to instill.

This shot shows the round bottom. I take a couple of small stitches which hold the bottom of the lining to the bottom of the felt bag. I think this helps to keep the lining in place when someone is rummaging through the bag.

This last shot shows the blind stitching I do at the top of the lining to hide the handsewing that I used to put in the zipper. I try to keep the stitches as hidden as possible. I will post this part of the tutorial now (because I get paranoid about losing a long posting) and post pictures of a flat bottomed bag that has a magnetic closure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a very clear and well written set of instructions. I am getting ready to make my first felted bag and you gave me some VERY useful tips.