On a recent Joann’s trip, I spotted a book in the craft book section that looked interesting: The Better Bag Maker, by Nicole Mallalieu. I’ve been wanting to get back into bag making and to make some bags for my store, and also to learn some more professional bag techniques. Since I had a coupon, I took a chance on this book–and I’m so glad I did. I’m going through the projects in order and learning so much and gaining so many skills. Here are the bags I made from the first three book projects:
This first bag is a basic tote. Nothing special on the outside (except for the Totoro patch I had laying around and pinned on!). The lining has a set of three compartment pockets on one side and a zip pocket on the other, and a magnet closure. I made it out of some quilting-weight fabric I had in my stash. I’m pretty sure the purple is left over from my mesmer costume, and the blue is left over from Lucina. Anyway, this was a great introduction to basic interfacing, assembly, and pocket techniques.
The second bag is a bucket bag with a drawstring closure and a magnet closure. The straps are interfaced and attached using O-rings, which was fun. This is another one made from stash fabric, both are sateen. This bag came out great, but I’m not super into the design. The drawstring is elastic, so it’s a little weird opening the bag. And the heaviness of the fabric plus interfacing means the gathering isn’t as nice as I would like. But that’s fine, I learned plenty of new techniques for this bag, such as a different way of making straps, and how to make a base support that is attached to the outside of the bag.
This last bag is the “Osaka Pleated Handbag.” I actually bought fabric for this one! But I messed up and used the heaver interfacing for the lining and the lighter interfacing for the outside, instead of the other way around. So the lining is much sturdier than the outside. This is something no one but me will notice, but it still bugs! But really, I am incredibly proud of how this one came out. The other thing I would change is to make the pleats on the front and back bigger so that they look more deliberate. The instructions were a little confusing on this part, but I eventually figured it out. Also: metal purse feet!!!
I’ve learned a TON so far, and that’s only three projects in. One thing I have noticed is that with all the structure and ironing needed for bag-making, it takes much longer to make a bag than to make a plush or even a dress. This can get frustrating for me since I like to finish a project in one sitting. I have to remember it’s okay to leave something overnight and come back the next day! That’s why I have a whole room for sewing! But I just get so excited I want to finish things right away. The next bag in the book is a big weekender with a long strap, and I bought fabric for this one as well. Should be fun!
Other than trouble with the written instructions being unclear in a couple spots, this book has been great, and I totally recommend it if you want to make bags that look professional.