101brett baraDIYdiy projectssewing 101

sewing 101: how to make a hamper liner

by Grace Bonney

Who says laundry has to be a dull chore? Snazz up your laundry life by sewing a cute custom bag to fit a folding hamper frame. The beauty of making this sack yourself is that you can customize your hamper to almost any size (just open the frame as far as you like to adjust the dimensions). And of course, you can swap out the ubiquitous plain white bag for a fabric that coordinates with your décor. Ready for a hamper makeover? Let’s get started! – Brett Bara

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

What You’ll Need

approximately 2-3 yards cotton fabric (calculate the exact amount you need after measuring in Step 1.)

folding hamper frame

sharp scissors

all-purpose thread to match your fabric

sewing machine

iron and ironing board

1. Measure Your Hamper Frame

The cool thing about folding hamper frames like this, which I didn’t really realize until I started this project, is that you can open them as wide as you like. So if you live in a small space (I’m talking to you, fellow New Yorkers), you can adjust the frame so that it’s tall and narrow, with a small footprint. Or if you prefer a wide, shallow hamper, just open the frame wide. The beauty of sewing your own liner bag is that you can make it to fit whatever frame position you prefer, rather than being stuck with the dimensions of the bag that’s sold with the frame.

So, once you decide how to position the frame, measure the width of the base (measurement A), and the depth of the base (measurement B). Finally, measure the height of the frame; ie, the vertical distance between the cross bars (measurement C).

2. Cut the Fabric

For the bottom of the bag, cut two pieces of fabric that are as wide as A + 1″, and as long as B + 1″.

For the front/back, cut four pieces as wide as A + 1″ and as long as C + 1″.

For the sides, cut four pieces as wide as B + 1″ and as long as C + 1″.

For the tabs, cut four pieces 4″ wide by 7″ long.

3. Sew the Bag Body

Pin a side piece to a front/back piece, with right sides together. Place the first pin 1/2″ from the corner of the piece. (This will become the bottom edge of the bag, so if your fabric has a directional pattern, check to make sure it’s oriented correctly.)

Sew the seam using a 1/2″ seam allowance, beginning the seam at the first pin (1/2″ from the corner of the piece).

Continue to join all four panels of the front/back and sides, leaving 1/2″ unsewn at the bottom edge all around.

Press all the seams open.

4. Attach the Bottom

With right sides facing together, pin one edge of the bottom panel to the corresponding edge of the bag body.  Fold the 1/2″ unsewn flap out of the way so that it doesn’t get sewn in the seam you’re about to make.

Place a pin diagonally at the point where the two sides of the bag body meet (the spot where you’ve folded the 1/2″ flap out of the way).

Insert your needle at the diagonal pin and sew the seam using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Repeat for all for sides of the bottom, sewing each side separately and being sure to move the 1/2″ unsewn flaps out of the way for each corner.

5. Turn and Press

Turn the bag body right-side out and press the seams.

6. Make the Lining

Sew the lining just as you did the bag body, but leave a space of about 8″ open on the center of one of the bottom seams. Be sure to backstitch to reinforce this seam on both sides of the opening to prevent it from unraveling during finishing.

Turn the lining right-side out and press all the seams. Turn under the raw edges of the opening on the bottom edge and press them equal with the seam allowance (this will make it easier to sew the opening closed later).

Turn the lining inside-out again to continue assembling the bag.

7. Make the Tabs

Fold one of the tab pieces in half lengthwise and press. Open, then fold each edge in to meet the center point, and press. Next, fold the entire piece in half lengthwise and press.

Top stitch along each long edge of the tab.

Repeat to make all four tabs.

8. Attach Tabs to Body

Fold each tab in half and pin a tab to the right side of each corner of the bag body. (At this point, you should slip the tabs over the frame of the hamper and make sure the bag bottom is the correct length. If it’s too long, you can trim off a bit of fabric from the top raw edge of the bag body and lining.)

9. Join Lining and Body

With the bag body right-side out and the lining inside-out (and with the right sides of each piece facing together), slip the bag body inside the lining. Align the four corners and the top raw edges, and pin the two pieces together all around the top edge.

Sew all around the top edge, stitching 1/2″ from the edge.

Turn the lining right-side out, carefully working the bag body through the opening in the bottom of the lining. Sew the lining in the opening closed, stitching close to the folded edge.

Turn the lining down inside the body of the bag and press the seam at the top edge.

Finally, topstitch close to the top edge to finish the bag.

Hang the bag from the frame by simply slipping the tabs over the legs of the frame—and let the dirty laundry commence!


-To make a more structured bag, try placing a piece of plastic in the bottom of the bag. Simply cut a piece of plastic just slightly smaller than the bag’s bottom, and lay it on the inside “floor” of the bag after the bag is assembled. (If you really want to go the extra mile, sew a matching fabric cover the plastic.)

-If your hamper lives out in the open and you’d prefer it to have a lid, make a flap lid as follows: cut two pieces of fabric that are the size of the bottom panels but about 6-8″ longer. Sew the two pieces together around 3 sides, turn the piece right side out, press, and top stitch around the 3 sewn sides. Sew the raw edge of this flap to the right side of the raw top edge of the bag body, AFTER attaching the tabs in step 8. Then proceed to assemble the rest of the bag as instructed. When the bag is turned right side out, the flap will fold over the opening in the top of the bag, concealing its contents.

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  • I love this idea! I have a hamper exactly like this and now I can sew a liner for it to match my room! Another thing that works really well for me is putting a pillowcase around two of the wood ends so it hangs inside the hamper. This lets me sort my delicates from the rest of my clothes.

  • This is so cute, I’m adding it to my list of sewing projects. I have a cheap Walmart hamper that has a muslin liner. Been thinking of spiffing up my laundry room, so I’ll be using your tutorial. Thanks!

  • This is wonderful! Love that I can store my dirty laundry with style and add both interest AND function to the laundry room.

  • Thank you for the great tutorial. I’ve added it to the patterns on the new online sewing community at: mysewingcircle.com (and linked it back to this page). We’d love it if you could join us and share more of your tutorials (free and otherwise).

  • Darling! It’s projects like this that make me want to stop procrastinating and get a sewing machine (and some classes). Suggestions for good, budget-friendly machines that have a surge stitch option?

  • I love the fabric as well! I love the fact that you gave us such an instructional tutorial. I was always wondering how to make another laundry bag without having to throw away the entire thing.

    Thanks for posting! This is fantastic! Something I can do with my clients.

  • Any recommendations/suggestions as to how I could easily find such a simple hamper frame, online?

  • This is great; i’ve been looking for a simple laundry hamper liner tutorial since mine went belly up! :) thanks for adding this!

  • Great tutorial could you tell me where I can find a frame like yours to use? Thanks so much

  • Thanks for posting! I really love your blog. A lot of great idea…..

  • I have tried this before. (I’m a self tought sewer and am NOT the best lol) I made it way to big and have tried to fix it but everytime I do I just make it worse, so today I’m starting over lol I hope I get it right this time! Thanx for the easy to follow instrustions for someone like me who has to read it about 5 times

  • This is a fantastic tutorial! I only changed one thing: instead of sewing all four body panels together, I left one of the sides unsewn before I sewed the bottom on. I found that if I sewed the bottom on after sewing all four body panels together, I’d end up not being able to match the sides up exactly – I always had too much or too little fabric. Does that make sense? So I sewed the bottom on, and then I sewed up the fourth side of the body panels. It worked great. Otherwise, the instructions are detailed and clear, and produce a beautiful hamper! Thanks for posting this.