How to Sew a Lining for a Storage Trunk

Trunks: from Grandma’s cedar chest to Grandpa’s Army footlocker, almost every house has one.
According to Treasured Chests, flat-top trunks were manufactured from the 1870s to the 1920s. Paper liners were used until the late 1800s, when companies began lining trunks with fabric. Man has always needed to store his belongings, and the trunk is the perfect solution. Lining a storage trunk with fabric is a practical project for a sewer to undertake. .

Step 1

Measure the inside SIDE of the trunk, height by length. ADD 1 inch to each measurement. (For example, if your side is 15 inches high by 24 inches long, the measurement to write down is 16 inches high by 25 inches long). The SIDES are the longer of the four trunk sides. Two SIDES required.

Step 2

Measure the inside END of the trunk, height by length. ADD 1 inch to each measurement. The ENDS are the shorter of the four trunk sides. Two ENDS required.

Step 3

Measure the inside BOTTOM of the trunk, width by length. One BOTTOM required.

Step 4

Create a pattern using measurements for the SIDE, END and BOTTOM, or draw onto the fabric and, right sides of the fabric touching, cut two SIDES and two ENDS. Cut one BOTTOM.

Step 5

Place the BOTTOM fabric right side up onto a flat surface.

Step 6

Align, right sides of the fabric touching, one SIDE piece along one long side of the BOTTOM. Pin. Repeat for other SIDE. There are now three fabric pieces pinned in a square/rectangle.

Step 7

Sew the two SIDES to the BOTTOM, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Step 8

Align, right sides of the fabric touching, one END along the end edge of the BOTTOM (which is between the two SIDE pieces). Pin. Repeat for the other END. The liner resembles a flattened, open box.

Step 9

Sew the ENDS to the BOTTOM, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Spread the liner on a flat surface. There are three sewn rectangular pieces of fabric in the center, with one END sewn by one inside edge on the right and left of the BOTTOM piece.

Step 10

Lift one END to a "standing" position. Lift one SIDE to a "standing" position. Align the edges of the END and SIDE, forming a corner. Pin, right sides of fabric touching. Do this on all four corners.

Step 11

Sew each corner, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. The liner resembles a fabric "box."

Step 12

Fold under the top liner edges 1/2 inch to the wrong side of the fabric so no raw edges are exposed. Pin. Hem the top. Place liner into the trunk and attach the liner as appropriate for your trunk. Some ways to attach the liner are with adhesives or small nails, or with the use of a staple gun. Some older trunks have removable wood frames that brace the fabric liner.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Fabric (1 standard yard of fabric = 44 inches wide by 36 inches long)
  • Chalk or pencil
  • Straight pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Paper for pattern (optional)
  • Quilt batting (optional)


  • For padding, attach quilt batting to the inner walls of the trunk before placing the liner inside. You can also sew the batting to the liner during construction by cutting batting 1 inch larger than each piece. Sew the batting to the wrong side of the fabric before sewing the liner pieces together. Braid is useful for concealing the seam around the top liner edges.

About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.