The fabric of your bag can vary from quilting cotton to leather depending on the bag you are making. It is important to select a material that your sewing machine can handle. If you have an entry level machine you might want to use lighter fabrics such as quilting cotton and home decor fabrics.
- Quilting Cotton comes in different prints and can be used for accents, however the bag is not going to be as strong as a bag made with thicker materials. It is a great option for zipper pouches and small handbags. Some of my favorite designers are Alison Glass, Tula Pink, Cotton & Steel, and Michael Miller. I used Alison Glass fabric for my Half Moon, Harriett, and Eve bags.
- Home Decor Fabric gives body to your bag. I like to use the waterproof canvas, it is great to give strength for backpacks, laptop bags, or organizers. I used it as the lining for the NCW Wallet, the body of my cork clutch bags, and for my Clover bag.
- Jean Fabric is another of my favorite materials for the exteriors of my bags. I used jean fabric for my Backgammon and The Window Shopper Tote bags.
- Faux Leather or Vinyl is inexpensive and can be sewn in home sewing machines. I used faux leather for accents in many of my bags including Brooklyn and Dollie.
- Cork fabric has become my favorite material for bags. It looks luxurious and comes in many colors and patterns. I used cork for my Sublime bag and as accents in all of my recent bags including Heidi and Sweet pea.
- Leather – most high end brands use leather for their bags. It comes in different thickness and it can be dyed with different techniques. Working with leather is an art by itself. I’ve been watching Ian Atkinson videos to learn and give leather a try. If you need inspiration to make a bag, take a look of Hermes bags. They are probably the most expensive bags out there and are completely handmade. This video shows how a Hermes bag is made.
- Satin looks great but it is not easy to work with.
- Quilting Cotton is probably the most common fabric for lining.
- Premier Prints Slub or Twill are also great options because they don’t need to be interfaced.
Online Fabric Stores:
You can buy fabric in the following online stores:
- Amazon – Amazon is a great place to start because they often have the best prices. Also if you are subscribes to Amazon Prime, you’ll get many of their selections within 2 days. You can also buy fabrics from fabric.com through Amazon.
- Craftsy often offers great sales on their fabric selections and also on their sewing kits.
- Joann Fabrics – You’ll probably find a Joann Fabrics store close to you and they offer a wide variety of fabrics you can choose from. Their prices are higher than in other stores but they always have coupons. I often buy interfacing by the bolt at Joann Fabric’s online store through top cashback.
Interfacing and Stabilizers
There are an overwhelming amount of interfacing and stabilizers out there! for bag making these are the ones that I use:
- Shape Flex 101 – for quilting cotton in linings and exteriors of bags.
- One Sided Fusible Fleece – Fusible fleece can be use to give the bag more body but not a sturdy or firm look. I use it in backpacks and soft handbags.
- Fusible Vinyl gives a waterproof finish to any regular fabric. It is useful for cosmetics bags or pencil cases.
- Flex Foam Interfacing gives your bag a sturdy and firm look. The three most common ones are ByAnnie Soft and Stable, Pellon Flex Foam, and Bosal. I’ve used the three of them and they are similar.
- Foam Underlay commonly used for floor installations is a great substitute for the Flex Foam. It is thinner and doesn’t crease.
- Peltex is used in bag flaps and bottoms.
- I use strips of Home Decor Bond in the top of card slots in wallets.
- You can fuse your accent pieces or appliques to your bags using Heat’n Bond.
Learn more about bag interfacing in All About Bag Interfacing Tutorial from Sew Sweetness.
The Hardware or the bag bling gives your bag a personal touch. It’s like jewelry for your bag. I buy my bag hardware from these stores:
- Emmaline Bags – Janelle offers quality Hardware in different colors and sizes. Included are copper, gold tone, nickel, gun metal, and antique brass. Her store is in Canada and shipment to the USA takes 2-3 weeks.
- I buy most of my hardware at the Etsy Store 3DAN Supplies. They also offer high quality at great prices. They ship worldwide from China and the shipment to the USA takes about 3-4 weeks.
- I also like NingBags hardware (also on Etsy).
- Many different sores offer bag hardware supplies at Amazon. Just be careful because not all of them offer good quality.
- I use a Gold Star Rivet Press to install my rivets and I buy the rivets and snaps at Gold Star Tool.
You’ll need Zippers for your bags! they come in different lengths and sizes.
- Nylon Metallic Zippers – These are my favorite zippers for bags! they are size #5 with nylon teeth that looks like metal. (you can sew over them). You can use them with one or two pulls. You can get these zippers at my Etsy Store.
- Zipit Store at Etsy offers a huge variety of zippers.
- The Zipper Lady specializes in zippers by the yard (if you don’t like the nylon metallic ones or if you want other colors). She has a nice video that shows you how to install zipper pulls.
- Wawak zippers are the cheapest ones I’ve found. They take a while to ship but their prices are excellent.
- Make a Zipper rolls can be cut to the exact length you need for any project, This are #3 and they are great for the interior zipper pockets. I like to have them in white and black.
The best way to learn how to make a bag is by sewing bag patterns. You can start with any FREE bag pattern. Some of the bag pattern designer that I like are:
You should try patterns from different designers as you can learn different techniques from them.
I’m a Craftsy fan! I’ve taken a few of their Bag making classes and recommend the following:
- Mix & Match Clutch Bag Techniques – this one is my favorite, I made my clutch bags using cork and waterproof canvas.
- Sew Sturdy Travel Organizers – I like the binding and zipper installation techniques. I use my organizer to store some of my hardware and press dies.
- Sew Sturdy Home Organizers – I use my Catch-All Caddy to organize sewing supplies.
- Sew Better Bags: The Weekend Duffel – Betz White teaches all the techniques you need to make a professional looking duffel. I made my duffel with Aztec Prints!
- Building Better Bags: Interfacing & Structure to learn everything about bag interfacing.
Betz White also teaches bag making classes at CreativeLive. CreativeLive offers classes in Photo, Videos, Art, Music, Crafts, and Business. You can buy their classes to watch them at your convenience, but their live broadcast classes are free. On their page click On Air to display the classes or check their live broadcast schedule to signup for the ones you are interested.
- Build Your Own Tote: Custom Exteriors
- Build Your Own Tote: The Basic Bag
- Build Your Own Tote: Interior Details
There are also bag making classes at Creativebug. Creativebug is like a Netflix subscription, you pay a monthly fee ($4.95) and you can watch all the videos you want. Try it for FREE through this link.
I hope the bag making resources listed here are useful to you. If you know of any supplier or store not listed here please leave a comment below.