Susan’s Bag Making Tips - Part 1

Susan’s Bag Making Tips - Part 1

When Karen was little, I LOVED to sew clothing for her. I especially loved sewing for Halloween and Easter. I'd always start planning out my project months in advance. I love the photos and memories we have from that time. 

As all children do, Karen grew older and was "embarrassed" at her mom's attempts at sewing her clothes (I'm sure she will disagree with this). So, I had to move on to something else creative. Over the years, I've learned (if not perfected) many different types of sewing, from stuffies to quilting and needlework.  

Bag-making is my newest challenge!

Through trial and error (errors...), I have amassed a FEW tips (15, to be precise) about how one should (and should not) make bags. Here are the first seven tips that will hopefully make bag-making fun and successful for you:

  1.   Read all directions FIRST!  Take a minute to read all of the directions before you start making your bag. You may find you need to complete extra steps or do some prep before starting. You'll save yourself loads of time and frustration if you just READ everything first.
  1.   Use a Walking Foot or Your IDT. Walking feet (used in quilting) allow the top fabric to feed through the same way the feed dogs of your sewing machine feed the bottom fabric. Anytime you are sewing multi-layer projects, use the walking foot. This foot is perfect for top-stitching. Walking feet are machine-specific, so be sure to check your manual.
  1.   Use Binding Clip. Binding clips, also used in quilting, are essential in bag making. When you are making bags, you are working with several layers of fabric. They can be very thick, so hard to pin. Also, on some fabrics, you don't want to leave pin marks.

When making bags, TRIMMING your seams is essential. Trim to 1/8" and:

  1. Reduce the Bulk in Your Seam Allowances. Trimming the seam fabric and interfacing it all the way up to the edge of the seam is essential. (Reading your pattern instructions first will let you know if you will need that allowance to finish your bag).  
  1. Deal with the Clip Curve. If your bag project has a curved seam, you'll want to clip that seam. I like to cut tiny V-shaped notches in the seam allowance along the curve. If you do this, be careful not to cut into the seam allowance.
  1. Clip and Push Out Corners. Besides clipping curves on a bag, you'll also want to clip the corners. I always cut my corners at a 45-degree angle to the corner. Then I use a Hera tool (which you can purchase at Chateau Sew & Sew) or another "pointy" object to push the corner out, so it's nice and crisp. 
  1. Use Your Iron. Shape your fabric using a steam iron. If you've ever taken a quilting class, you know that you DO NOT want to distort your fabric or your seams while pressing. In bag making, it's OK to move your fabric where you need to. After I finish my bags, the very last step is to STEAM the bag. This will get the fabric flat and seams crisp.

Stay tuned for more bag-making tips!