Sewing a liner for a tote bag is a wonderful way to add more versatility to the bag. You can add custom-sized pockets to organize your cell phone, keys or lipstick so that they will always be within easy reach when needed. A lining will also make the tote bag more durable, especially if the tote bag's fabric is thin. If the bag is made of knit fabric, sewing a tote bag lining will prevent you from losing small things through the fabric.
Things You'll Need
Thread to match tote bag
Measure the width of the tote bag on the outside of the bag. Measure from one side seam to the next. Measure the length of the tote bag in the same way, from the top edge of the tote bag to the bottom seam. Add a 1/2 inch to these totals, and cut two tote bag lining pieces from the cotton fabric.
Decide on the size and number of pockets you would like in your tote bag. Add a 1/2 inch to the width and length of the pocket measurements. Cut two pieces from the lining fabric for each pocket front. Layer the two pieces for each pocket front with the right sides of the fabric together and pin. Sew around all sides using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and leaving a small opening on the bottom edge of each pocket front for turning. Clip the pocket front corners and turn the pocket fronts right-side out. Press the pocket fronts flat.
Place the two tote bag lining pieces on your sewing table, side by side, with the right side of the fabric up. Lay the pocket fronts on the lining pieces, 4 inches from the top edge and at least 2 inches from the sides. This will ensure easy access to the pockets and will prevent them from being caught in the seams. Pin the pocket fronts in place. Top stitch the sides and bottoms of the pocket fronts as close to the edges as possible. Back stitch the beginning and ending of your stitches to secure. The top stitching will close the opening on the bottom of the pocket fronts that was used for turning.
Layer the lining pieces together with the right sides of the fabric together and pin. Sew a 1/4-inch seam allowance on the sides and bottom of the lining. Fold the top edge of the lining 1/4 inch to the wrong side of the fabric and press. Do not turn the lining inside out. Fit it into the tote bag. Match the top edge and the side seams with the tote bag. Pin the top edges together. Top stitch as close to the top edge as possible.