Bag Making 101: Quick Tips for the Beginner Bag Maker

If you are new to Bag Making, or you need to refresh your bag making skills, start here for some basic tips.

#1: Fabrics and Supplies

 Bag making is different than garment sewing or quilting in that you are working with thicker, denser fabrics. Check out our post called Working with Waxed Canvas for tons of great tips on how to handle this wonderful fabric.

#2 Thick Seam Allowances
When sewing a bag, you may come across some areas, such as boxed bottom corner, that may have very thick seam allowances. To reduce bulk, grade seams by trimming the layers of fabric to different widths. Another method is hammer thick areas with a mallet a few times. 

#3: Sewing Over Uneven Areas

When topstitching around the top edge of a finished bag, you will come across a very thick area at the side seams. Here you have the strap tab or webbing, plus the seam allowances of your side seams. To help your sewing machine in this tricky area, take a piece of folded fabric that is about the same thickness as your project in this area. As you approach side seam while you are sewing, slip the folded fabric beneath the back of your presser foot, so that the presser foot is level as it approaches the thick area. This will keep your stitches even and make sure your machine can stitch through all the layers. 

#4 Easy Does It

When turning your bag right side out, be gentle and patient. You wouldn't want to wreck your bag this late in the game! Use a point turner or chopstick to poke out the corners of your bag, but do so very carefully, taking care not to poke holes through the fabric. 

#5 Closing the Bag

The tidiest way to close up the gap in your bag lining after you've finished your bag is by hand sewing it closed. You will need a hand sewing needle and thread that matches your lining. To get a neat closure, follow these steps:

-Press the bottom seam allowance of the lining open before you turn the bag right side out. 

-When pulling the bag body through the lining gap, be very gentle so as to avoid ripping or warping the lining.

-I like to use a ladder stitch to close up the lining because it is almost completely invisible (check out this tutorial for a good visual). A slip stitch or whip stitch are also good options. Here is a nice run down of different hand stitches if you aren't familiar. 

-If you don't want to hand sew the gap closed, you can also edge stitch the two sides together with your sewing machine, but it will be more noticeable.