Tips for Turning Out Bag Linings

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on April 13, 2023

A simple way to elevate a bag project is to add a lining.  We use this technique when making zipped make-up bag and fabric baskets, as well as larger project like our carry all bag pattern.  Turning out a lined bag, sometimes referred to 'birthing the bag' is one of those cleaver things which can be completely baffling the first time you do it, but creates a beautiful and tidy finish.  When you line a project, all the seams are hidden away on the inside.

The lining technique is called 'bagging out', which means the whole project is sewn together and then turned through at the end.  This is one way of adding a lining and it's our favourite because it is the easiest and gives a really neat finish.

three different bags each of which use a bagged out lining

Here are my top tips for how to turn out a lined project - 

Leave as small a gap as you can. Somewhere around 10cm for large projects is idea, 5cm on a smaller project is good too..  It might need to be bigger if you are turning out a larger project, like a handbag.  But the smaller it is, the neater it will be to close.

Reinforce the turning gap with a back stitch at each side.  This will strengthen the opening, allowing you to pull the fabric right way out without making the gap bigger.

close up of an open zip in a lined make-up bag


If you've included a zip in your project, like in the zipped make-up bag, for example, make sure the zip is undone!  If you don't, it can prove impossible to turn the project the right way out and you might have to undo some stitching.

Use two fingers to reach though the turning gap and pinch the opposite end of the bag to pull it though the opening. Be gentle when pulling through, don't pull on the opening itself but ease the fabric through by sliding it though.


Image shows two hands pulling a bag lining the right way out


Use a blunt pokey stick to push out the corners.  There are lots of tools that will do this job, point turners or knitting needles.  Whatever you use, be careful not to push too hard and break the stitches.

You can close the gap by hand or by machine.  A hand sewn finish is neater, and looks great on the outside of a project; a simple slip stitch will give you almost invisible stitches.  If you prefer to machine sew, make sure the seam is on the inside of the project and sew as close to the edge as you can.  Ideally you want to be a couple of millimeters away at most.  This is not as neat a finish, but it is quicker and if the seam is on the inside it won't be visible anyway.


image shows machine sewn finish for a bagged out lining

 I hope that helps! Lining bags is a great way to improve your sewing skills and I hope these simple tips and advice makes you feel more confident!  These skills can be used with some of our projects, including the Make-up bag, and our carry all bag pattern. 

Find more sewing tips and advice on our blog here!


Happy Sewing,

Freya x