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Designing and Making a New Textiles Bag

Updated on November 20, 2012

Sewing a New Bag

Opposite: A close up of the detail on the front of my old bag.

I've had my current bag for about 6 years now and I feel like it's time for a change.

I'm about to become a new parent so I think I want something bigger and with pockets but I also want it to look fabulous and artsy too. I'm also not sure I want to be lugging around a bag with a heavily pregnant figure on it when I'm heavily pregnant.

I'm probably going to come up with my old original pattern but in the lens below I've also collected links to a lot of free bag patterns on the Internet.

My Old Bag

This is the bag I've had for years and it's lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. It's really very simply made - it's just a lined rectangle of textiles with a recycled zip closure at the top, no pockets and very simple straps.

I want my new bag to be bigger, have pockets so I don't have to fumble about for my keys or pens and to have proper comfy straps.

Above: My Old Bag.

Bag Patterns

Free Patterns for Fabulous Bags

It can be pretty hard knowing where to start so it's useful to have a look at what is out there.

If you're decorating and making your own fabric for your bag you might not want to design your own pattern too so I've collected together some free bag patterns below.

Making Handbags and Purses

Making Handbags & Purses: 50 Patterns & Designs from Casual to Corporate
Making Handbags & Purses: 50 Patterns & Designs from Casual to Corporate

This is a book I've had for a few years with a great range of cute bag patterns ranging from tiny bags to backpacks.


What I Want in a Bag

I'd like a pocket for all my important things - keys, wallet etc.

I'll probably need a bigger space for baby stuff.

I'd like it to be big enough to also fit an A4 sized sketchbook or notebook.

I'd also like a space to fit in a paperback.

I do like having a backpack-style bag but I'm willing to look at other styles.

Design Inspiration

Below and opposite are images of the textiles map I made.

The one thing that annoys me about my current bag is that I melted the textiles (on purpose!), to create a distressed look. The problem with that is all the little bits of fabric that catch on my clothing - by this point - 6 years later - the bag is completely soft again but it's now trailing little pieces of fibre.

If I make a textiles map for my new bag then I'm going to sandwish it under a sheer layer of fabric to stop any melted bits from catching on anything.

I'm also thinking that I might just use plain canvas for the body of the bag and just have a textiles map panel at the front.

Textiles Map
Textiles Map

Above: A melted textiles map made for a craft challenge.

My Design

I'm not sure that a backpack is going to be feasible for what I want. I'm thinking more and more about designing some sort of messenger bag or shoulder bag.

I've collected together some initial doodled ideas of what I want this bag to look like. My ideas are fairly simple at this point. I'd like to keep the textiles piece at the front and use plain fabric for the rest of the bag.

Finally... Some Progress!

I finally made some progress on this bag, possibly a month or more after making this lens - oops!

As you can see, I haven't gone with the map idea this time. I love my maps but I just wanted to jump right in with a patchy shabby chic bag.

I started with some fabric cut from some old combat trousers - I'm planning to use the parts with the pockets on the inside of the bag - that way I get some cool pockets and I don't have to worry about making them!

I started sewing a really patchy piece of fabric which I'm planning to use as a large outside pocket - not sure what I'm going to use as a closure - perhaps I can find a button loop from an old pair of trousers to make a easy/lazy closure!

Not sure what I'm going to do for the sides or handle yet but I'm sure it'll come to me!

I was inspired to just throw myself into making this bag after watching the video linked below.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

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    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 6 years ago

      @caffimages: If you find any time can I borrow some too? :) Thanks for visiting!

    • caffimages profile image

      caffimages 6 years ago

      What lovely bag ideas I've found on here. If only I had the time. Now where did I put all my fabric remnants....