Friday, 22 January 2016

Bag Making

One of the things I want to do more of in 2016 is bag making.  I've started the year off by making 3 new bags, a handbag, oversized tote and shopping bag.  I also plan to make an overnight bag, a camera bag, more shopping bags, a couple of big bags for carrying sewing supplies to group or class.

Campfire Messenger Bag

The first bag I made, which actually I made end of last year over Christmas was a new handbag - Noodlehead's Campfire Messenger.  I spent about a year trying to find the perfect bag pattern!  I like a smaller cross body bag and one with lots of pockets too.  I also like there to be a zip closing the main compartment so nothing falls out if I fling it around! Plus a large pocket at the back of the bag which will fit a book in as I often carry a book with me. 

Rear book pocket

This bag had a lot of pockets and included some techniques I hadn't tried before but I did find the instructions were easy to follow.  It took me a full weekend, lots of cutting and interfacing then lots of sewing too.  I used Tua Pink fabrics from Black Sheep Wools for the flap, rear pocket and lining.  For the main fabric I wanted something a bit more durable and heavier weight than quilting cotton so I used a sparkly star print canvas fabrics from UHandbag.

Under the flap
  I did have one issue which I contacted Anna at Noodlehead about, my gusset ended up being about an inch to short.  If you look carefully at the image above you'll see the binding around the top dips down on the left, it's the same on the right too.  It made it very difficult to bind around the top.  Anna did talk me through it and it looks like it must have been a cutting mistake.  She was very helpful and sent me step by step photos to show how it should have gone together.

The second bag I made was an oversized tote bag.  I received a free piece of faux leather with my Simply Sewing magazine and was trying to think of what to make with it.  A few days later I visited my local wool mill, Cold Harbour Mill, where they make their own tartan fabric.  They had an open day so I could look around and see how the wool was made, and how it was made into fabric.  I ended up buying half a metre of the Devon Blue Tartan and realised when I got home it went perfectly with the faux leather.

I didn't use a pattern, I just made it up as I went along, using the faux leather to decide on the side of the bag.  I lined it and added several pockets inside, and used some gorgeous leather handles from Sew Christine.  As much as I love the bag I don't think I'll use it that much so I'm going to gift it to a family member who will get much more use from it than me.

The last bag I made with a single layer (unlined) shopping bag.  I use these instead of carrier bags, and keeping them single layer means they roll up neatly to fit in my handbag.  I was approached by a new company called Kallosphere who make bespoke acrylic templates.  So you send them a design and they cut it for you in a solid reusable template (brilliant for quilting, or any designs you make repeatedly).

I fancied making a bag with woodland animals on so I found so I sent them outlines of the woodland animals that I wanted.  They then took those designs, they tweaked them to make them into shapes which would work well as templates.  They sent me the designs to give my feedback, and after tweaking a couple of things we had the final designs.  A few days later my templates arrived in the post.  I was impressed by how thick and sturdy they are, they will survive years of use.

I wrote up a tutorial for the bag here, you can make it with or without the applique. It's well worth making a few of these, it'll save you a fortune on carrier bags.  Plus fabric is pretty strong, they'll carry lots of weight.

I haven't quite decided which bag to make next but I'm considering this one which is from Debbie Shore's new book Sew Brilliant Bags.  I love that it uses fat quarters, I have hundreds to pick from!  I reckon it'd make a great weekender bag.   It's either that or a camera bag, I have a fab pattern for one from Sew Sweetness waiting to be used.

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