Saturday, January 12, 2013

Make A Bag Chapter 1: Introduction

Well. Here we are, finally, at the beginning.

The beginning of the year always make me a little missful of my teaching days. Our school year in Singapore began in January with the chronological year. Start-of-the-year staff meetings were always exciting because everything was new and wide open and everyone was (ostensibly) refreshed from the long December break (equivalent to summer vacation here). This was the time when we'd get our new class lists, record books, office supplies and extra-curricular assignments. This was also the time when I got my first look at my time-table for the next ten and a half months - meaning I'd know which were my half-days off so I could schedule in after-school swimming and beach workout stuff. Which other job offered the possibility of swimming afternoons (no- stay-home-motherhood did not count)? And you all thought I was in it just for the altruism of the profession. Ha! 

Summary: I miss my teaching days. So- guess what - I'm going to pretend I'm still a teacher. This means a curriculum and assignments and exams and everything. Those of you who thought you were getting spoonfed entire tutorials are welcome to snort in outrage and leave the class now. Off you go! For the other brave and motivated souls who've chosen to stay, may I present:  Bag Making 101.

The course objective:
At the end of the series, students should be able to look at practically any finished bag and explain its structure, its construction sequence and how to make a template (aka pattern) in desired dimensions. The aim of this approach is to help students visualize the structure of a bag and thus reproduce this structure in a pattern.

The course content includes:
  1. Basic bag shapes and categories
  2. Straps and handles
  3. Structure: Layers, Support, Reversibility and Finishing
  4. Bag 1: Flat Lined Tote
  5. Bag 2: Flat Unlined Tote
  6. Bag 3: Darted Tote
  7. Bag 4: Gussetted Tote
  8. Bag 5: Wrapped Tote
  9. Bag 6: Blocked Tote
  10. Bag 7: Bucket Tote
  11. A Case Study In Reversibility
  12. Quiz (maniacal laughter)

The following are NOT included in this course:
  • Sewing techniques
  • Instructions for hardware installation
  • Guidelines for the selection of fabric and notions
  • Detailed tutorials on making particular bags
  • Bag pockets and details other than straps

Class Assignment:
On your next trip out of the house*, look at as many bags (including -if you can be discreet -those carried by other people) as you can and try to classify them into categories. Ask yourself what features led you to your decision to put them in a particular category. Look at the list of 7 bags in the Course Content paragraph if you need inspiration for possible categories. Based on the criteria you choose, your categories may be different from mine.

* Or raid your own bag closet. Don't be shy. I know you have one. Every woman does (and some men). 


  1. My seat belt is fastened! Let's go! :)

  2. Oh, what fun! I think I'll play hooky on the day of the quiz though. :D

  3. This sounds really absolutely AWESOME! THanks for the opportunity! How will this work? are you going to post a lecture or how can i imagine this? and how much will it be (moneywise)?

  4. Pues me parece fantástico... a lo mejor aprendo algo y todo :-)

  5. This is so exciting! I can't wait for the next installment. And I really loved reading the story about how your bag-making obsession was born and then became a business. Thank you!

  6. Replies
    1. Jennifer, that's exactly what I was about to write when I saw the introduction.

  7. OOh, excited to learn more about bags. Thanks very much for taking the time to do this for us. I'm very keen to make my own bag patterns and get the size and style exactly as I like.

  8. You are amazing and generous! I am looking forward to your series!

  9. io sono italiana, seguo il suo blog da molto tempo, non commento mai perchè purtroppo non capisco l'inglese e mi devo accontentare di gooogle traduttore, le immagini parlano da sole, i suoi lavori sono meravigliosi e i tutorial sono molto esaurienti. complimenti. Elena

  10. Great, someone is doing the structure of the course for me!
    A proper curriculum with assessment pieces, wonderful.
    (I gave up teaching 2 years ago due to ill health and I miss it.)

  11. Thanks! I'm ready for school to start!

  12. How are you going to assess our end knowledge? :)
    Looks like fun - thanks for doing this!!
    I would love to know how to add a zipper to close the bag at the top. That one thing just befuddles me.

  13. You're awesome! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  14. I am so exciting!! I am on board to learn. I love your organized teaching approach. I'm ready to be your student!

  15. I'm in, absolutly! And thrilled to give bags as presents to.. everyone around!

  16. YEAH! I am one of your (up until now) loyal but silent readers. I am an american living in Germany who loves to sew and loves your style. As a mother of three girls and a chemical engineer, I relate to you in many ways!!!! You are a total inspriation.

  17. You continue to amaze and inspire! Yesterday I finally made welt pockets with flaps and zippers on a raincoat I made for my daughter last year after reading your easy to follow pocket tutorials. I can't wait to try your bag tutorial. Thanks for sharing your talent for teaching and sewing!

  18. Oh my, oh my, oh my - I am almost incoherent with happiness. I am (unhappily) unemployed but do my best to help society. I volunteer with a wildlife group and also do what I can to help the homeless. Unit 7 is a volunteer organization in my city that provides many services for the homeless. I donate/make sleeping bags; donate toiletries, clothing and food; and do whatever else I can. As a sewer/quilter I have a major stockpile of fabric, thread and notions. I cleared out my sugar cupboard and planned to donate that to Unit 7. While there I will ask about what type(s) of bag would be most useful. Then I will get busy.
    Thank you.

  19. I'll be followng along, while I have made a lot of bags there's always something new to learn from others!

  20. Heart was beating very quickly and I was almost hyperventilating as I read your post!!!!!!!
    P.S. Can I get a delay on the exam as I am moving house so may miss a few lectures ; )


  22. Spectacular! It is very generous of you. I will put your blog on my blog roll list so I am aware when you make a new post! Thank you so much!
    Marisa from

  23. We are also very excited to be a part of this! I homeschool 4 girls, some of whom are WILD about sewing!! We have made your boo boo dolls, chickens, and have just cut out pigs (from the 1 yard wonders book) - we have loved, loved, loved your blog, and I am excited to share this 'process' tutorial with them!!!

  24. This looks so neat. I cannot wait to start.

  25. I didn't see this mentioned in the comments, sorry if it's repeating - but there's a mostly-defunct site that deconstructed bags and is worth eyeballing for anyone interested in bagmaking.

  26. I've been doing the first assignment for the last couple years. I LOVE figuring out how bags are made. :) :)

  27. will we learn to do piping like on that great looking messenger bag?!?!?!?! please!

  28. You should so write a book!
    This is an awesome series! Thanks!

  29. I am one of those oddballs that does not carry a bag. I use my pockets, coat pockets, pants pockets, car pockets, anything but a bag. At the ripe old age of 58, living in a structured society, it looks like I shall have to give in and learn to function normally. I never remember my insurance card at the doctor and they don't file it anymore without yet another xerox copy of that stupid card. After 25 years there, now they want my social security card, like I have seen that since I got my job 20 years ago. No, I shall give in and learn to deal with the red tape and with big brother and make my life easier. maybe if I go to the trouble of learning about and making my own bag I might actually learn to use it on some regular basis.


  30. I've just found your site/blog (through a Pinterest link) and I am beyond thrilled to see your multi-part series on Bag Making.
    I look forward to taking my time and learning as much as I can from you.
    Thank you for all the time that you put into these lessons and thank you for your generosity in sharing it with us!
    Wishing you an excellent 2014!!

  31. Thanks for being so kind and sharing your gifts.

  32. Thank you so much. To offer all this information, plus everything else involved in bringing this kind of project to fruition, for all to enjoy, is truly a work of mind & spirit. As my daughter, the studying Buddhist would say Good Kharma.

  33. I'm so excited to find this blog and this series on sewing bags! I'm very new to making them and am eager to learn!

  34. Ah Lier thank you so much, this is fantabulistic. God bless you xxx

  35. I am so excited to do this course and it's free. I have had a desire to make bags for such a long time and now I have a personal instructor..FANTASTIC !!!!!

  36. I have wanted to make handbags for such a long time, but a little afraid.
    I am so glad I found this link on Pinterest. This is FANTASTIC !!!!!

  37. I love your "former teacher style". As a former teacher now living in Scotland, I can relate, and as I love to sew, I love your tutorials. Thanks so much for doing these. Your British-isms make me smile as I think the whole rest of e sewing world lives in the US with a Hobby Lobby or Joanne's on every corner. The challenge of finding materials is half the battle up here! (or saving up for fabric that is over $20/yard).


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