bag interior
“What Should I Consider When Designing a Handbag Interior?”

Clutches, satchels, hobos, buckets, shoulder-drops, slings: all are names for different types of handbag styles. Yet, each has one thing in common… an interior that is perfect to hold all your necessities, while catering to your fashion consciousness. Every woman is unique in her tastes and needs, and the handbag market reflects this. You, as the designer, have total control.

One of the first things to consider when designing a handbag interior is need. What does the user need the handbag to do? Keep in mind: bag size/proportion, occasion, time of year, climate. Yet functionality need not limit your creativity. Aesthetics are important too. Interiors should look beautiful. An easy and simple way to achieve this is through fabrication and colour. Take this opportunity to get away from conventional materials and colour schemes. Here is your chance to use high-quality luxurious fabrics, rich patterns, textures, and colours… all of which will reflect your own personal tastes. Or perhaps the fabrication must multi-task? Not only should your choice be based upon its appearance but possibly its properties too. Consider using thermal linings, waterproof linings, stain/mildew-resistant linings, plush linings, padded/quilted linings as part of your design specifications.

Organization is another important consideration when designing a purse interior. There should be compartments for storage and security. Think how the handbag is used, picked up, opened, looked through. An enclosed space or compartment for the things carried the most often is what you want to include in your design. Is the pocket, pouch, slot accessible? Is it positioned comfortably to reach in and retrieve objects? Compartments and their placement can be customized to your own preferences. Does it need to be secured? Inset zippers, dome-snapped flaps, elasticized openings, gripper straps often add security features to your interior styling.

If your aim is to design a handbag unlike the high-end designer handbags found in the marketplace, do use better quality hardware such as high-quality zippers for pocket openings and employ better sewing techniques. Often times while exteriors are fussed over, their interiors are slapped together poorly and quickly. They will not endure for long, the inner lining materials tear easily and they end up having “swallow holes”.  Swallow holes are those empty spaces in the lining of a handbag where small items like coins drop into the space between the lining and the exterior of the bag. There should be even, smooth machine-stitching with no skipped or broken stitches. One of the suggestions I often make is to reinforce the lining fabric with a Knit-fuse interfacing or back the lining material with a flannel interlining to stabilize and strengthen the interior lining. In handbag designing, an impeccably executed bag interior will only complement a well-constructed handbag exterior.

The final consideration is to put your personal “stamp” on your handbag design. Custom features such as monogramming, placeholders for key-rings or pens, coordinating wallet or eyeglass holder, or telescoping umbrella are just some ideas you may want to include in your interior styling to complete your total fashion image and add uniqueness to your handbag design.

Handbag interiors are as individual as the women carrying them and should be designed for beauty as well as necessity. Their style, materials, features and workmanship will all be factors in the overall design of the perfect handbag. Most women, however, just find them indispensable.


Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight


  1. Brunella

    Thank you for always finding a new way to give.

  2. This was very technical, I like that. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for sharing

  4. Thank you for this write up, many bag makers underestimate the importance of a well thought out and executed lining. I have learned a couple more things myself 🙂

    • Don

      Thank you Amina…I do think bag manufacturers try to make a good product and many do based upon their target market. You must remember though that a designer creates a product not especially made for you but someone much like you. This is the difference between purchasing from the marketplace and designing your own.

  5. Great follow-up to your Craftsy class, Don! Thank you!

  6. Great blog post, thanks! Do you think leather bags really need to be lined? I don’t usually line the ones I make, mostly because I have noticed that fake leather bags are always lined to disguise that they aren’t real leather – whereas the underside of real leather has an appeal of its own.

    • Don

      It depends on the construction method that you use. A cut-edge finish and a faced=edge finish will leave the interior of the bag clean and neat, so it requires no lining. On the other hand, a turned finish and a turned-edge finish will reveal the seam allowances, so manufacturers do drop in a lining into the cavity to neaten the appearance. You can also design storage features into the lining. As the designer, it is your choice.

  7. Such a good post. It really helped me a lot, will be referring a lot of friends about this.

  8. Handbag should be attractive and according to women purpose.

  9. Colette

    What kind of fabric do high end or luxury handbag designers use? Do you know where I can purchase it?

    • Don

      Handbag designers commission their own fabrics or purchase them wholesale through tradeshows where fabric manufacturers exhibit once or twice a year. Unfortunately, these tradeshows are not open to the public. My suggestion is skip the fashion fabric retailers and check out the upholstery fabric suppliers.

  10. The feature that designers seems to overlook is color. Most handbags have black interiors which makes it very difficult to see what’s inside. Most people over 40 don’t see as well and some have night blindness. I always choose lightness of inside colors over all other features.

  11. Gabriel Saldarriaga

    Hi, what are the best lining fabrics for you and for what usages? I’m looking for the best balance between design/colors and functionality.

    • Don

      As the designer it is your choice in selection. I would suggest basing your choice on function and practicality and selecting fiber content for its most advantageous characteristics while minimizing the poor ones. Regarding colour, follow your color pathway in your design.

  12. Venetia

    This was very thought provoking and helpful. I have been looking for unique interior handbag lining but unable to find a source . Would you have a suggestion ?

    • Don

      Most of what is offered in the marketplace is for trade only. I will see something once in a while on the retail level but it isn’t consistent. I would guess that the retailer sourced it from jobbers rather than a distributor or supplier. Sorry! Good luck with your hunt.

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