Posted on June 29 2018
A post all about bags and what you need to make them.
It's not difficult to make your own bags, in fact they are one of my favourite things to make. I use them myself and give them as gifts. Quite often I am out with one and I end up giving it away and then I have to go home and make myself a replacement!
I sometimes make one to match an outfit or for a specific purpose, such as a beach bag,and I have shopping bags everywhere!
The other great thing is that once you have a few basic supplies you can use up odds and ends of fabrics which you would otherwise not have a use for. It's all win-win!
This is one I finished last night, it's a saddle bag and I made it from remnants of tweed fabrics.
This is a special bag which I made for my school bestie Margaret for her birthday. I was in such a rush to finish it and post it that I didn't take many photographs of it before it went off to Devon!
My friend Melanie bought me this book for my birthday and I was itching to copy some of the fabulous bags. It is a great book as everything is explained in great detail and options given to make the bag purely yours. There are lots of ideas for trims and embellishments too.
There are however dozens of great bag patterns from almost every sewing pattern company, these are just some from my stash. Many dress patterns come with a bag pattern too.
If you take a look here, Bags and accessories you will find a huge selection of bag patterns from clutch bags, tote bags, handbags and lots more in between. Think about what you would like to make and buy a pattern. As you become proficient in bag making - and you will because it is addictive - you will find that you don't need a pattern at all, just an idea.
For Margaret's bag I chose the Claudia bag from the book. Of course you do not have to use the fabrics suggested, you can use whatever you like which is of a suitable weight. My main fabric for this was denim.
I wanted to include some fabric which has been in her family for as long as we can remember so I used it for the bag and pocket linings. It brings back lovely memories for her everytime she looks inside.
All bag patterns explain what fabric you need and usually you can use your leftover scraps from other projects, or fat quarters, as they really don't need much fabric. You could also use smaller pieces to make a patchwork bag.
The bag has an external zipped pocket, don't be afraid of this as they are far easier to insert than a dress zip! Use a plastic zip or a special bag zip .
Place the right side of the pocket to the right side of the bag, centering it exactly.
Then follow your bag instructions and measure where the zip is going to be placed, marking it with a water erasable or vanishing ink marker pen. Marker pens
Trim your zip to the correct size if necessary and stitch across the end of the teeth if you have shortened it, and also stitch the top tapes together
Machine stitch around the outside of the markings and carefully cut along the centre line and corners taking care not to snip your stitches.
Then "post" the lining through the hole, straighten it all out and give it a good press. This is your zip opening.
Use some Prym wonder tape to stick the zip on the reverse of the bag, centering the teeth and making sure that it lines up as perfectly as possible.
Prym wonder tape is one of my favourite products. It is a double sided sticky tape which holds all sorts of fabrics together whilst you sew them and is especially useful when inserting zips. Zips for bags
This is the back of the pocket with the zipper stitched in place.
And this is the front. Beautiful!
Don't worry about the lack of instructions here on this post because whatever pattern you choose comes with all the instructions you need.
The back of the pocket bag has been stitched down the sides. Go over your stitching again for strength and if your fabric frays a lot then use your overlocker too.
I'm now making the tab with which to close the front patch pocket. You will need to line this - and the bag itself , with a specialist interlining. I used Fusible volume fleece but there are others such as Decovil depending on the finish you require.
The finished tab is stitched between the lower and upper bag front.
Another product which I absolutely love are these fabulous colorful poppers from Prym. This Colour snap kit represents great value for money or you can purchase individual packs in a variety of shapes and colours. Just look at these Various snaps there is every colour you can imagine, including packs of mixed colours. They are much easier to insert that the metal ones too and much more fun in my opinion.
You will need a pair of plyers Prym Vario plyers to use to insert them. These snaps are great for all sorts of garments where otherwise you would need a button and buttonhole.( Think blouses!)
The poppers are extremely easy to put on just remember to put them in place as you go along otherwise you may struggle to fit the plyers over large areas of fabric.
This is the closing for the patch pocket. The pocket is two rectangles of fabric, one layer of volume fleece, sewn together, leaving an opening at the bottom to turn the pocket the right way out.
Press and sew in place.
On any bag if you wish to create a base then simply cut two-inch squares from the corners of the bottom of the bag.
Bring the side and lower seams together and stitch across, matching the seams. I glued some extra decovil on the base to keep it firm.
Make the lining in the same way. Using the made up front and backs as a template.
You can add zippered or patch pockets if you want them.
There are various ways to make the handle. This is where you decide how long you want the handle to be. Do you want a shoulder bag, a cross body bag or a handbag?. You decide. Try a few lengths out and see what works best for you.
To make the straps I actually use waistband facing Folda-band is perfect for this. Simply iron it on the reverse side of the fabric and using the perforations fold the edges in and then fold it down the middle . Stitch close to the edge along both long sides.
You may want to attach your handle with hardware - these Handle loops look great
Pin and sew your finished handles to the sides on the outside of the bag.
Make up the lining but leave a large opening at the side or bottom to enable you to pull the entire bag through to the right side.
Put the bag inside the lining, right sides together and sew along the top edge.
Pull the whole lot though the opening in the lining and then either machine or hand stitch the gap closed. It will be hidden on the inside of the bag and won't be seen.
I inserted a ribbon with a key ring on the end before stitching the top. I added a fun charm as I knew Margaret would love it. An empty key ring is always useful I find - no more hunting for keys!
I added another popper to close the bag at the top.
This is the finished bag,pressed and ready to be posted. As I said earlier though I wasn't so much of a rush that I forgot to photograph the front with the pocket.
For the next bag I wanted to use up all the short lengths of tweed fabric I have in my stash. I chose colours which complemented each other.
For this bag it was necessary to make a template. The full pattern for this bag is included in the book. You will find similar patterns in the Jaycotts collection. I
had just about enough fabrics to cut the basic bag out, but not enough for the curved additions at the bottom of the front and back. Not that it matters because the bag looks great without.
This fabric frays so it is important to cut plenty of seam allowances and sew large seams.
This is the fusible volume fleece in place.
The pattern suggested an external zip similar to the previous bag, but because of the way my fabric frays I decided to add a pocket between the top and bottom sections of the front, to be hidden under the flap.
This is the pocket section being sewn onto the lower part of the bag. It is not clear here but I did interface the pocket with normal medium weight interfacing.
Once the sections are brought together the pocket will sit neatly inside.
The other end of the pocket is sewn onto the top section
Once the bank front has been pressed you can hardly see the pocket. I added a popper at this stage to keep it closed.
This pattern has a gusset so once the fusible fleece has been ironed on pin and then stitch the gusset onto the front. Stitch as close to the fleece as possible.
Don't be same with the back.
This is the basic shell of the bag.
To make the pocket flap I interfaced both the front and the back pieces with a Woven iron on interfacing .this will give structure to the flap whilst still allowing it to remain flexible.
Top stitch the outside of the flap then sew it to the back of the bag right sides together
Cut out the lining. I added lined patch pockets which I stitched down the centre as two smaller pockets are more useful. But you can make your pockets to suit your own needs
Stitch the lining together but leave a large gap at the bottom of one of the sides.
Make the handle as in the previous bag and attach them to the sides.
Pull the bag through, turning it right sides out and stitch the gap closed. Press all the seams using a sleeve board.
Add a trim along the front top edge if you like.
To close my bag I chose a sew in clasp. Tuck Lock .there are other choices of fastenings available at Jaycotts, in fact they have a huge selection of bag making supplies and you will find patterns, handles and hardware etc on their website or in store Bag making supplies
The nicest thing about bag making is that once you understand the basics you can make them whatever size you want, in whatever fabric you want - there are no restrictions. You can embroidery them, applique them, make them out of faux leather or basically anything. I would steer clear of stretch fabrics though for obvious reasons.
I hope that you are tempted to make your first bag, so go to the bag making supplies on the link above and choose your pattern and hardware. The interfacing requirements are on the back of the pattern envelope, if you struggle, then Jaycotts will be happy to help so give them a call.
I usually get my fabrics from MinervaCrafts, but you will have your own preferences. Fat quarter bundles of craft fabric would be ideal, or what about cork or bamboo fabrics? They can be purchased here Craft fabrics
Maybe a fabric bundle would be ideal for you to get started? Fabric bundle
If you have fabric left over from your recent project then why not make a matching tote as I did?
Don't just stop at handbags and tote bags, why not make lap top, mobile phone or glasses cases? This tablet case was made using English Paper piecing.
For more ideas and instructions please read my previous bag blog and learn how to make simple tote bags - we all need them for shopping now, also included is the large red bag.
Thank you for reading this post. Bag making is extremely enjoyable and can be as simple or challenging as you like. It is also a great way to use up your scraps of fabric or to find a beautiful way of using a piece of fabric which holds special memories.