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Handmade Bags - How To Begin
by Pam Morley
Step 1 - The recipe
Your recipe for a great bag, of course, begins with the necessary ingredients. You will need the following:
1) Basic structure for the bag (fabric)... more on this later
2) Fabric for lining
3) Fabric for pockets
4) Accessories (buttons, ribbon, trim)
7) Matching thread
Step 2 - The main ingredient
The main ingredient is the fabric (structure of your bag). Here are some ideas. You can start with a ready-made fabric from a fabric store. Choose anything that is fairly strong (quilted fabric, heavy canvas, denim, upholstery fabric works great! But wait....if you're short on cash or not near the fabric shop, just look around the house. Here are some other ideas for fabrics to use:
Choose a pretty placemat (these have a nice weight to them)
Curtains that you no longer want
An old wool skirt or jacket can be disassembled
A pillow front and back
I'm sure you'll come up with more ideas of your own.
Step 3 - Mix it up
Now that you have your main ingredient, you will want to add it to. Depending on the size bag you want, you may want to add additional fabric to it. For instance, if you want a tall tote bag and are using a placemat folded in half, you probably want to add some fabric to the top. Well, look around and find something that coordinates. If the placemat or fabric you're using is a print, look for just a tiny bit of color in that print and add a solid fabric to make the top of the tote. Next, you will want to add some ribbon (polka dots are in). These can be sewn to the top of the bag or where the two fabrics meet. Just lay everything out and take a look.
Now, the lining. I like to make the lining out of something entirely different, but again coordinating it with the outside colors. And if you want pockets, you will need a small piece of fabric for those. Handles can be made out of anything....you can buy leather or acrylic handles in the craft stores, OR feel free to use cotton webbing, a men's tie, an old belt. And, of course, you can make the handles out of fabric. I often use the lining fabric. Again, look through your Thrift Store bag.
It's great to leave some totes open at the top, but many people like a closure. You can add a zipper if you know how, but probably the easiest way is to sew in some Velcro for the closure. Okay, got everything ready? Next time, I'll tell you how to put it all together.