“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose” - Lauren Hutton
A bag holds around 25 objects, weighs between 2 and 6 kilos, and is one of the most simple and common fashion accessories. We often take it for granted. The more personalised it is and the more it shows off your style, the better it is. Are you looking for an accessory that goes with your outfit? If this applies to you, the best way to have a bag that’s right for you is to make it yourself. But how? Sign up for sewing classes. Follow our advice! Here are some tips to get you started on your own handmade accessory!
The Main Steps to Making a Bag
Making your own bag isn’t that complicated, even if you’re an absolute beginner. However, you do need to be aware of the main steps involved before you begin getting all crafty. Make sure you’re using quality materials otherwise your mag will come undone or rip.
1. Choose the Type of Bag
The first question you need to ask yourself is which type of bag you want. A big bag, small bag, practical bag, customised bag, with or without a strap? Depending on what you’re crafting, you could go for a deep bag or just a little clutch bag without a handle. Finally, you’ll always have the satisfaction of knowing you made the bag yourself!
2. Get the Necessary Materials
If you’re working from a bag pattern, make sure that you carefully read the recommendations and buy the materials and accessories you need from a haberdashery. Start by choosing a solid and think material for the exterior. Thin materials won’t last very long! Here are the basic sewing supplies you’ll need:
- Fabric or cloth
- A pair of scissors
- A needle that’s solid enough for the material you’re using or a sewing machine
- Assorted threads in the colour of your bag for making a seam and stitching on accessories
- Transfer paper for fabric (eventually)
- Decorative elements to customise your bag
- An iron
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3. Cut the Fabric
Before you start cutting, make sure you measure carefully so that you don’t make any mistakes. If you cut too much off, there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re using a pattern, use pins to help you when cutting. Don’t throw away the offcuts! You never know when you might be able to use some scrap material for something else.
4. Pin the Different Pieces of Fabric Together
Before you start sewing, you should pin all the pieces of fabric together and loosely stitch them so that you can make sure that every part is where it needs to be. Temporary stitches are easy to remove. You can do this either by hand or by using a machine. However, once a permanent stitch has been sewn, you don't really want to try removing it.
5. Do the Sewing
You can do the majority of the stitches with a machine. However, there are some stitches that will need to be done by hand. Finally, you can add different elements:
You could move on to making your own dresses after that!
The Different Types of Bag You Can Make Yourself
Handbag, travel bag, sports bag, there are so many different types of bag. It’s up to you to choose.
Making a Beach Bag
You can pop everything you need for the beach into this bag: suncream, sunglasses, swimsuit, books, etc. Whether it’s canvas or wicker, it’ll go everywhere with you. There are a lot of great sewing tutorials for making canvas beach bags or totes on the web. You just have to find the right sewing pattern for you. You can also customise a wicker basket by adding some nice patterned fabric to the inside or by making a patchwork.
Making a Reversible Bag
Firstly, have fun with the fabric you choose: printed fabric, spots, stripes, stars, etc. This is the great thing about reversible bags! Then, continue as you would making a normal bag big make sure the seams are invisible. There are great tutorials available for reversible bags on both blogs and YouTube which explain step-by-step how to make these fashionable accessories.
Making a Pouch
Making a pouch is one of the easiest things to do when you first learn to sew. A pouch can be used as a handbag, makeup bag, toiletries bag, or a jewellery bag. You can use it however you wish. It can be really simple, with a flap, pockets on the inside or outside, a handle or a strap for over your shoulder, round, square, rectangular, etc. Let your creativity run wild! There are tonnes of blogs with tutorials on how to make a really cute pouch. Why not try making your own trousers?
The Best Online Tutorials for Learning to Make a Bag
Here’s our handy selection of sewing blogs which explain step-by-step how to make bags, purses, and other sewing projects. Here’s our choice:
- Whipstitch: This blog has tonnes of information on making clothes for both adults and children as well as explanations of sewing techniques and terms.
- Tilly and the Buttons: You may remember Tilly from The Great British Sewing Bee. Her website has a great blog full of tutorials on sewing, printable bag patterns and purse patterns to follow, and online classes for those wanting to learn more about sewing and making their own clothes.
- Purl Soho: This website belongs to a shop in New York City but just so happens to have plenty of projects and tutorials for people interested in making their own clothes, quilts, bags, and sewing arts and crafts.
- Sew Over It: This blog includes plenty of tutorials (including video tutorials) and there are free sewing patterns, books, and e-books available through the site.
How to Customise or Make a Tote Bag
A tote bag can be used in many different situations. Make sure you sign your creation!
What’s a Tote Bag?
A “tote bag” is a rectangular cotton bag that’s usually in white or ecru. It was an originally a reusable bag for your shopping that some of the bigger brands offered. Over time, the tote bag became more popular and trendy. Since it’s practical and accessible, it goes with most styles and can be taken anywhere: to the beach, office, or around town as you do your weekly shop. You can create one in just a few simple steps and also customise a white tote bag with a bit of fabric paint, a needle, and glitter or pearls, etc.
How to Make a Tote Bag
There are a lot of sites explaining how to make yourself a tote bag in less than an hour, even if you’ve just started learning how to sew. To make the main part of the bag, you’ll have to cut a rectangular piece of fabric, fold it in two, then cut two thin rectangular pieces for the handles.
How to Customise a Tote Bag
If you’re not ready to release your tote bag to the world, you could always customise it. For example, you could write your favourite quote on it, print a photo of something you love on it, or decorate it with some patterns. Embroidery, dyes, stencils, there are plenty of techniques you can use. You can also add adorable buttons, pouches, lining, or a drawstring.
The Best Online Videos for Learning to Sew Bags
If you're looking for videos on making bags, clothes, or other textile crafts, here are some of the best YouTube channels around:
It doesn't take a genius to work out what this channel is about (it's crafts, by the way!). You can learn about quilting, knitting tops, sewing, as well as kitchen crafts like cooking and baking.
This is a good channel for beginners. In fact, this is the main focus of the channel. If you're an absolute novice, looking for a bag pattern or information on stylish projects, or wanting to make a summer dress, this is the place to go!
This is a channel that's worth checking out once you've got to grips with sewing as there are plenty of advanced sewing techniques explained in great detail. However, the delivery is very clear and the methods are explained step-by-step so you might be checking out this channel sooner than you think. If you're looking for tutorials on embroidery, embellishment, ruffles, or pleats, this is the place to go!
Pink Chocolate Break
This channel has playlists on different types of garments and different levels of abilities. Once you've got the hang of the easy sewing projects, why not move onto more advanced stuff.
All Free Sewing
If you're on a budget, you probably enjoyed seeing the word “free” in this channel's name. There are loads of great projects and sewing tips on this channel. There are tutorials for beginners, projects for children (like making clothes for a doll), and how to recycle old clothes. There’s nothing stopping you from changing materials, either:
- Faux leather
Nowadays, anyone can make their own bag, purse, quilt, pillowcase, jeans, etc. Take your time with your creations. Go for it! It's so easy (or should we say sew easy?) if you follow a sewing tutorial. Learn also how to:
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