For this project I wanted to try something completely different and new to me. So rather than clothing, I decided to try my hand at bag making. I love the fabric vintage bags with solid handles of wood or resin so wanted to try and emulate that style.

I started off looking for bag patterns, and although there is a fair choice out there I didn’t find exactly the style I was after. I chose the pattern that was most similar to what I was imagining with the separate solid handles, and that was Burda 7264.

Next was the exciting bit– choosing my handles! The Minerva website has a lovely variety of styles and shades, and I eventually chose a pair of amber coloured, oval shape resin handles. When they arrived I loved the rich colour and they had quite a vintage feel about them so I was really happy with my choice.

I spent a long time choosing fabric, as normal! I was initially planning to use a tapestry-esq or brocade fabric but I happened across a floral cotton, and I was smitten. This cotton has an all over floral print with what I think of as a watercolour style to the design; very soft, and incorporates such a lot of different colours in the design.  The fabric comes in a couple of different background colours and I just couldn’t decide between the pink and blue (both a wonderful dusky shade) so I decided to get both, and interchange them both as the main fabric and lining fabric.

The prep time for this project definitely took me longer than the sewing itself! Mainly because there are lots of pieces to cut out as the bag is made up in panels which need to be cut in the main fabric, batting, interlining and lining fabric. I had to pay attention to make sure I cut each one of the correct material and kept them labelled and laid out of the floor so that I knew which number each piece was during the sewing process!

I cut all of the pieces out once in the pink and once in the blue and I played around with different ways to assemble it to see which colours I liked where. I tried alternating the colours on the panels of the main bag but it reminded me of hot air balloon too much so I decided on the pink for the main bag and blue for the top. However, I then realised that as long as all of the seams were encased, there was nothing stopped me from making it reversible! Basically two bags in one! So that decided my colour conundrum.

Assembling the bag was so satisfactory – seeing the layers become padded and ‘like an actual bag’ was such a thrill, I can’t believe I’ve never tried making a handbag before!

For the trim under the top of the bag I used an off-white crochet lace, about an inch wide, that also has a vintage vibe and I thought suited the floral cotton. The trim rolled up slightly when attached, as if it was slightly stretched where the bag widens out. I think it would have been worth gathering it slightly before attaching, so that it wasn’t hugging the bag. If your trim is narrower than mine though I don’t think you would need to worry about doing this. To remedy the trim rolling up, I carefully slipstitched the bottom of the lace in place on the bag. Where I was making the bag reversible I attached the lace to both the inside/outside of the bag.

The bag handles I had chosen were a different style to the ones the pattern was designed for so I had to make some small changes to accommodate this. The pattern was designed for loop attachments at the end of each handle where mine has one gap the length of the handle for the bag to attach to. The pattern has two fabric loops each side of the top of the bag so all I did was increase this to four on each side of the bag and I spread these evenly along the length of the handle to hold it in place.

As my version of this bag is reversible, I decided not to add the magnetic fastener so it wouldn’t be visible on the outside of the bag. Because of this I had a think about the best way to make the bag secure for my valuables as although it would be very difficult for the bag to open when I’m holding it, I knew if it wasn’t secure it would put me off using it on certain occasions and I obviously wanted to be able to use it as much as possible. I decided, not on making a fastening for the bag but making a zip pouch to attach to the bag and sit inside it. The idea being I would put my phone and purse secure in the pouch and then my lipstick, foldaway shopper etc can sit loose in the main bag.

I had a small amount of each fabric left plus some interlining so I made a simple square pouch, with a pink zip at the top. I made a loop on the side of the pouch, and when constructing the bag, I had added a fabric loop between the main bag and top of the bag, under the lace trim. It’s not obvious from the outside as it’s quite hidden by the lace trim. I then slipped a key ring (which conveniently happened to have a blue flower on already – so in tune with the bag aesthetic) around the loop on the bag and the loop on the pouch, attaching the two so that the pouch can’t be taken out of the bag without disconnecting the keyring first. When I want to use the bag the other way round, I just slip it off the keyring, turn the bag around and attached it on the other loop now inside the bag. I won’t lie, I was pretty pleased with myself when I came up with this little problem solving idea!

I can feel a new obsession coming on and I know that this is going to be just the first bag of many. I’d really like to try a different fabric next too – maybe a faux suede or leather.

Thank you for reading and happy sewing!

Rebecca

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