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How to make the perfect bag.

September 19, 2007

shoulder bag

Step 1:
Begin by rifling through your fabric stash. Throw fabrics together, experiment, make a mess. You will be surprised by what goes together. Some old scrap of yard sale fabric might just go perfectly with that $12/yard Kaffe Fasset print you’ve been saving for the perfect project.

Step 2:
Plan out the bag. Take notes on how it will be used, what size it should be, what specific things it will carry, the order in which to piece it together, and how cool you will be carrying it around to all awesome places you go.

shoulder bag (inside)

Step 3:
Guesstimate how big you want the bag to be. Take notes of these “measurements”. Imprecise, but it works for me! (Most of the time.)

Step 4:
Begin cutting. Also start sewing. Oops, wait. Don’t forget the interfacing. And wouldn’t it be cool to add a pocket to the lining? Dang, I cut that piece the wrong way. Start over? NO! Design feature!

shoulder bag - wearing

Step 5:
Wear your bag proudly. Don’t EVER tell anyone about all the mistakes you made. They’ll never know.

Step 6:
Remember all that fabric you tossed around is Step 1? You must remember to clean it off the bed before your husband gets home because he’ll just throw it on the floor when he tries to lay down after a long day at work and then you’ll be mad that he threw your fabric stash all over the floor and it’s really hard to get him to compliment you on your fantastic sewing skillz if he just had to wade through the fabric stash that he didn’t even really know existed…. Point is, hide the stash before the hub gets home.

Step 7:
Make another bag, for practice really does make perfect. Or, at least, better.

Now I know I didn’t really tell you how to make a bag.  But it’s not hard!  For the bag pictured above, I used a front and back panel of the same size, then connected them with a gusset for depth.  The flap and the strap were both added at the end.  The lining and the pockets are just additions to the basic shape and easy to do once you get the hang of it.

For the bags pictures below, I used an even easier method.  Take a long rectangle of fabric, fold it in half lengthwise and sew up the sides.  To add depth and create a flat bottom, sew a short corner seam on each side that is perpendicular to the side seam.  Again, pockets and linings are just additional steps added to the basic shape.

stolen bag

This little tote was originally for Maggie, but I liked it so much that I decided to use it as a sock bag.

The green lining is my favorite part.

stolen bag

Jerry got a lunch bag to take to school.

lunch bag

I tried really hard not to make it dorky.

lunch bag

Now go make yourself a tote!  The thing that helps me the most is the planning step.  Before I even cut a lick of fabric, I take notes about what order I’m going to sew things in.  Especially when I go all renegade without a pattern, it helps me keep my thoughts in order, and helps me not to forget anything.  Like straps.  And interfacing!  Do you know how much better your bags will be if you add interfacing?  It’s true.  Try it!

17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2007 12:50 pm

    Great great bags! I really should dust off my sewing machine!

  2. September 19, 2007 12:59 pm

    Man. I really have to try that. If anything can spur me to get my sewing machine out, it’s your blog!

  3. September 19, 2007 1:18 pm

    WOW! Fantastic bags. I’m so jealous of your craftiness. 🙂

  4. September 19, 2007 1:28 pm

    Wow they’re all beautiful!

  5. September 19, 2007 1:39 pm

    The lunch bag turned out great! I’ve been meaning to ask you about your bags (that sounds a little weird) at knitting. Great work, as usual.

  6. September 19, 2007 4:59 pm

    Great bags! And the lunch bag is a great idea, I want to make my kids some.

  7. September 19, 2007 5:48 pm

    I love them all. The first one would have to be my favourite, but the second one looks fantastic with the green lining too. The little lunch bag is a fabulous idea, and not dorky in any way.

  8. September 19, 2007 5:59 pm

    Great bags and hiding the stash is so important especially if you have ever made one of those 1 project at a time promises. 😉

  9. h-spo permalink
    September 19, 2007 9:41 pm

    Fun Bags! get it? Fun bags?

  10. September 20, 2007 7:19 am

    Oh my, those are some fantastic bags! I especially love the first one. Great work!

  11. Chelsie permalink
    September 20, 2007 4:11 pm

    Love them! Especially the orange and green linings.. what a fun suprise! I’ve got a few bags in the works myself (ideas in my head right now…. but I’m working out the details. 🙂 ). I’ve been making Mei Tai’s for friends lately… first one (the imperfect one 🙂 ) was for me and Caroline… she loved the carrier, so we’re branching out! It is satisfying to sew something useful, isn’t it?

  12. September 21, 2007 8:31 pm

    I love these bags!

  13. September 22, 2007 3:02 pm

    Fun and beautiful bags!
    And no step 6 for me : no husband, and a daughter who went to Paris for her studies : so, when my bed is full of fabrics or yarns, I take her bed!!!

  14. September 25, 2007 2:03 am

    Those are my kind of instructions! Great bags!

  15. September 26, 2007 8:33 am

    Wow, fabulous bags, all of them!!! Love them.

    I hear ya on the interfacing. I was scared of it for so long, and my first couple of tote tries suffered because of it. Now that I see what a big difference it makes, I’ll never go back to my old way. Though I still need to go back and add interfacing and a lining to Tiny Dancer’s tote bag.

    I really, really love these bags you’ve made.

  16. October 6, 2007 12:51 pm

    Love your little sock bags! I will have to try that out with some fabric scraps I have laying around.

  17. February 28, 2008 2:22 pm

    Oh yah, hide fabric!

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