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Thread: Any Tips for Bag Making?

  1. #1
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    Any Tips for Bag Making?

    My daughter (college student) has requested that I make her a high purpose bag for toting books, groceries, and other things. I found a simple online pattern--square with handles. After looking at more patterns, I was left with lots of questions. How big? Kinds of material for bag? Material for handles--cord, strap, cotton. Now? Confused. This board is always SO helpful. Any tips?

  2. #2
    Super Member Pinkiris's Avatar
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    My choice of fabric for tote bags is what the stores list as "outdoor" fabric. It's sturdy and holds up well. A square bag with a boxed bottom should serve your daughter well. Don't make it so large that she can't lift it once it's full! Handles can be of the same fabric as the bag, doubled and stitched in rows for reinforcement. A removable liner in the bag can be cotton and easily washable.
    Sue

  3. #3
    Super Member TexasSunshine's Avatar
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    Upholstery fabric is good for totes that are used a lot and carry a load. I made the handles out of the upholstery fabric also and it holds up well. I have also used faux leather for the bottom, top and handles of the bag with fabric in the middle.
    Texas Sunshine, piney woods of NE Texas

  4. #4
    Senior Member citruscountyquilter's Avatar
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    I agree with the above posts. I have made bags and used either outdoor fabric or upholstery fabric. With the upholstery fabric I don't use the super heavy/bulky kind. Drapery fabric also works well if it is heavy and tightly woven. I line my bags which also gives them a more finished look and adds stability. I use cotton and a lightweight fusible interfacing on the lining. I use the outer fabric for the handles and make the handles long enough that it can be slipped over a shoulder but not so long as you can't carry it with your hands. Pockets are nice addition too for keys and smaller items. I put those inside when I make the lining. If you want some kind of closure on the top you can add a magnetic closure or a flap. I've done both. If you want really strong handles have them wrap all the way around the bag and meet at the bottom. This also gives you the edges for an outside pocket when you stitch the handles up the side of the bag.

  5. #5
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    I agree with pinkiris - don't make the bag so large that she won't be able to lift it. If she's like me, the larger the bag the more stuff I can put into it and then give myself shoulder problems. For books I would use outdoor fabric or even nice upholstery fabric. For straps I would use a 5" strip of fabric, 5" fusible batting on top of that, then fold the strap in on itself, meeting the 2 sides in the middle, press well, then fold in half, press well, then sew at least one row of stitching on each side, and I sometimes add 2 more in the middle. I've used this for several bags for myself and I tend to put a lot into my bags - the straps are very sturdy. I would also attach the straps stitching in a square, then an "X" to make it even more sturdy. For the bottom of the bag I like to use a piece of plastic canvas cut the size of the bottom, then add a layer of batting, make a slip cover over the batting and sew around the edge. I've made over 20 bags using this method and my machine has no problem sewing over the plastic canvas. You might also consider an outside and inside pocket for little stuff, like keys. Sorry for being long winded. Hope this helps.

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    Immensely!

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    I agree with the outdoor fabric. have used often. Water resistant, fade proof, sturdy

  8. #8
    Senior Member Pepita's Avatar
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    Canvas is another good alternative. It also helps stiffen the bag.
    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

  9. #9
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    You need to put a cover over the top of bag so items donot get wet .

    There are some great bag patterns about with sections and even zips to make them bigger. I use cotton and then press stiffening on the back. A bag with a small folding bag inside for shopping may be useful. Does she want to have it on her shoulder or a back pack. Bags are endless.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  10. #10
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    With upholstery fabric you don't need interfacing, just a lining.
    And the lining can be great way to use those fabrics you have that you wonder why you got in the first place!
    I like to put pockets inside near the top, sometimes one larger than the other, for phone, keys, etc.
    Be sure to back stitch at least an inch at beginning and end when attaching the pockets.
    If using the webbing for handles be sure to melt the ends so they don't fray out!

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