Sewing Stylish Handbags & Totes was published in June 2013 and is my third book. Being a bit of a bagophile myself, I was very excited to take on this project, creating 18 interesting and varied bag designs for every taste. I personally am the type that likes useful bags, but my goal in creating this book was to create bags for every need and every person, and to make classic favorites with an unexpected twist.
Contents: 3 Chapters:
Chapter 1: Reusable shopping tote (3 motif options), Laptop Bag (3 motif options), Lunch Bag (3 motif options), Art & Craft Tote, Weekender Bag (3 motif options), Duffel Bags (3 size options and 3 character versions: bunny, cat, and panda)
Chapter 2: Shoulder bag, Patchwork purse, Styled Shoulder Bag (3 variations), Sling Bag (3 motif options), Expandable Messenger Bag (3 motif options), Pleated Evening Bag (with kanzashi how-to)
Chapter 3: Drawstring bag (3 motif options), Reversible Creature Bag (4 character options: dinosaur, robot, shark, monster), Crossbody bag (3 motif options), Roundabout purse (3 motif options), Hatbox Purse (3 motif options), Embellished Satchel (3 motif options)
Project info: Projects are illustrated through numerous full-color photographs explaining every step. Also, the getting started section features how-tos on using several kinds of handbag hardware.
Pattern info: Main project patterns are printed on full-size sheets found in the back of the book. They are overlapped and printed double-sided, so tracing is necessary if you wish to use all the patterns. However, the lines are color-coded making them very easy to trace. Additional motifs can be found inside the book for enlarging at home or your local copy shop. See my own tutorial on enlarging book patterns if you need more help!
In my book, I’ve tried to satisfy lots of different tastes, and I’ve broken the projects down into three chapters. First is the chapter on Useful Bags. This includes a Collapsible Shopping Tote, with a perfect added feature of an attached zippered wallet that you can use to fold up the entire bag for when you need it! There’s also a very modern-looking Laptop Bag, which is nearly my favorite in the chapter. It’s sleek, minimal, and comes with some very techie templates for fabric painting. There is a super-handy Lunch Bag and also a set of Duffel Bags for making your own luggage.
With just a bit of resizing you can make a set of 3 duffel bags that fit perfectly within one another for easy storage. For quicker trips there’s also the Mod Weekender Bag, which has a classic Mod shape and comes with retro-looking templates for fabric painting. But perhaps my favorite in the chapter is the Art & Craft Tote. It’s a portfolio style tote with loads of pockets for people who do every kind of art and craft imaginable.
Let it be known that while this book includes 18 patterns (with even more variation options), it also has a huge getting started section that demystifies a lot of the hardware that goes into pricier bags, such as zippers, buckles, metal rings, turn-lock closures, strap adjusters, eyelets, the list goes on! And there are sidebars that explain how to add lots of awesome motifs to your bag by sewing on appliqué or painting your bag with fabric paint and freezer paper stencils. With additional lessons in creating pockets, straps, and other fundamental bag components, you might find yourself customizing the patterns to exactly your needs.
The next chapter covers Casual Bags. Here I’ve taken a lot of the classic and casual bags you might be used to. There’s a Simple Shoulder Bag that’s perfect for whipping up in an afternoon, and is specially designed to be made from recycled materials like fused grocery bags! Also a cute Patchwork Purse that looks great made from leftover bits of fabric. The Sling Bag is minimal on the outside, but packs a huge punch on the inside with tons of pockets that are perfect for a day of hiking! But perhaps my favorite bag in this chapter is the Expandable Messenger Bag. While it’s a simple design, it’s taken to a new level with an expandable bottom section that opens up your bag to nearly twice the original size!
Lastly there’s a chapter of Quirky Bags, which are perfect for kids or those with a quirky sense of humor. These might remind you of some of the kawaii accessories you’d see at Modcloth or Thinkgeek, and they include a practical Drawstring Bag that can be done up like a squid, or a Monster Bag that’s completely reversible! There’s also a classic Crossbody Purse with a cute pocket detail that I couldn’t help but dress up with some cute characters. Also there’s a sweet Roundabout Purse and Hatbox Purse. But perhaps my favorite for the chapter, and maybe even the whole book, is the Embellished Satchel. This bag has loads of details including a leather laced strap, old-world-looking fabric paint templates, and lots of hardware. It was made for all those people who are inspired by long mountain adventures or even just writing poetry by the riverside.
As with all the projects, of course, these elaborate or cutesy embellishments are all completely optional, so if you find them too outlandish for your taste, I do hope you’ll consider the bare bones patterns to be just as classic and adhering to more mature sensibilities.
The book comes with two sheets of full-size preprinted patterns that overlap each other, so if you plan to make many of the bags, you’ll want to trace them off of the master sheet with some tracing paper. Luckily a roll of tracing paper is much cheaper than visiting your local copy shop to make enlargements from the book.
I hope that you’ll consider checking out my book to see images of all the projects, and hopefully a lot of them will get you curious about bag-making ^-^