The Bag Makers Skill Hub
Sewing bags, totes and purses can be deeply satisfying. It is such a joy to hold the finished project in your hand and marvel that you made it yourself.
It can however, also be a little overwhelming particularly when you are starting out and all the tools, techniques and terminology can seem a little strange. Then as you become more skilled and also more adventurous there seems to be even more complicated stuff and bag hardware to get your head around. What is the difference between a triangle ring and a D ring anyway???
BUT.. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, look at it as having countless opportunities to learn new things and grow as a bag making sewist.
This learning hub is a work in progress and is divided into three main sections, Bag Making Newbie, Advanced Beginner to Intermediate and Advanced Bag Maker.
As it develops, each section will contain information and resources relevant to those stages in a bag maker's journey.
Feel free to jump into any section.
Skills for a Bag Making Newbie
So you're keen to start sewing bags, but hmm....where to begin?
Basic Bag Making Tools
So what tools do you need to get started, apart from the obvious needle, scissors thread etc. I recommend the following, many of which you may already have:
- Sellotape for sticking patterns together
- Quilters see thru' ruler in inches. A minimum of 12" and optionally an additional 24" which is useful when you start to sew larger bags or straps.
- Rotary cutter and good quality blades for cutting out the pieces
- Iron and ironing board
- Lighter and old scissors or rotary cutter for cutting and sealing zippers
- Strong glue suitable for fabric, quick dry and crystal clear.
- Small sharp embroidery scissors or snips
- Quilting clips
- Hump Jumper to help your machine climb those thicker seams.
- Point turner or chop stick
- Optional bone folder or finger press.
- Domestic Sewing Machine with a minimum of a regular foot and zipper foot. (Other useful feet are a walking foot and and an edge foot/blind hem foot for topstitching.
- A slightly heavier needle as you will be sewing through layers. preferably use at least a 90/14 needle. (Read this article to learn more "What sewing machine needle do I need for bag making?")
Bag Patterns for beginners
You may already be an experienced sewist, have seen a bag pattern you like and feel confident to jump right in. If not, or if the instructions turn out to be a tad confusing than you expected, an ideal place to start is by sewing a simple lined, box-bottomed zipper pouch.
Sewing a lined, box-bottomed zipper pouch.
Skills you'll learn:
- How to box a bag bottom,
- How to insert a lining and
- How to insert a zip. (I recommend looking for one with tabbed zips to begin with.)
You can easily find tutorials on YouTube or try the Harlequin pouch by Crafted By Leanne, a free pattern available from her Facebook group. With this pattern, you will also learn some simple piecing and joining techniques.
Once you've sewn your pouch, check out some other free patterns. I have a handy article here Top 10 free Bag Making Sewing Patterns.
The Harlequin Pouch by Crafted by Leanne
Fabrics to start sewing bags with.
For your first project I recommend using lighter weight fabrics such as quilting cotton or lighter weight canvas etc. particularly as you will likely be using a domestic machine. These thinner fabrics will enable you to learn the basic skills without feeling like you've been in a wrestling match at the end of it.
Cottons and canvas still make really nice bags and as your confidence
Interfacing your first bags
Interfacing is not a place to skimp. Seriously do not use cheap non-woven fusible interfacing on your main bag fabric, it does not "move" with the fabric and often looks lumpy or bubbly.
As you start reading patterns you will see that they mostly call for a medium weight woven fusible interfacing. Pellon SF101 is often mentioned and is excellent, although quite expensive. There are many alternatives, depending where in the world you are. In Australia/New Zealand Birch Shape to create is very good. This article will tell you more:
Confident Beginner to Intermediate Bag Sewist
Interfacing FAQs for Bag Making
Work in progress
Stabilizers for Bag Structure
Advanced bag Makers
Work in progress