If you love to sew bags, you love to gift some of your bags, as well. You put your heart into your sewing projects; the bags require so much work and time and money! How to make sure that you sew successful bags for gifts?
I sew bags for friends, my sisters and their friends. When they need a special gift, they always come to me, asking for a bag. Here are some of my thoughts on this subject.
1. I don’t sew for people that I know don’t appreciate handmade goods!
2. If I don’t know the preferences of the recipient regarding bags (it happens often), I try to sew a USEFUL bag! A bag that anyone can use. I never fail when I sew a large tote bag, bigger than the usual size of an everyday bag. This big bag is incredibly useful: from shopping, to kids stuff, to beach, sport or travel. For new moms- it’s a MUST!**
3. If it is possible, I question the person about her favorite color.
4. I expect my bags to be used and washed and it is nice to gift a bag that can be easily ironed after washing. I did not realize this in my first years of making bags, but I have encountered myself difficulties in pressing my own bags so now I am more careful with this. You want to give a lovely gift and not a headache.
Here is how to make “iron friendly” bags:
a. Sew quilted bags – they need little pressing and sometimes, no pressing at all. If you can sew a patchwork bag, the rate of your success increases exponentially!
You can turn many patchwork blocks into a bag!
b. Even if you use fusible interfacing, quilt through the fabric and interfacing; I do this when I use Pellon Peltex, Fast2Fuse, Decovil(the heavy stuff), or foam stabilizer.**
c. One combination that I don’t quilt is heavyweight fabric (cotton canvas) paired with a medium interfacing like Decor Bond or Decovil light. The bags are gorgeous but most of them need pressing after washing- see below.
**d. It is extremely easy to care of a bag made out of faux leather or vinyl; think of a bag that will be used a lot outside, in the park, at the beach, when traveling…
5. I sew bags with lots of pockets. This is not hard for me, since two of my favorite bag patterns have front pockets as part of the design – so these are extra!
6. On most of my bags I sew a zippered pocket on the back of the bag (tutorial here). If the bag is large, then the pocket is large, too.
7. Many times I sew shopping bags; they are utilitarian bags, but always made with beautiful fabrics. I use my 30-Minute Shopping Bag pattern often, because it works with many types of fabric, from quilt weight to heavyweight cotton. If you have too much fabric in your stash (I know most of us are guilty of this!), this is an extraordinaire way to use up that fabric. Help others go green!
This is another shopping bag made out of heavyweight fabric- pattern here.
Even if I sew a beautiful large tote bag, lately I like to add inside the bag a few shopping bags. Just a little more effort that will increase immensely the meaning of your gift.
8. Laminated fabric
You can laminate the lining of bags or pouches used for baby stuff or for the beach.
Learn more about laminating fabric here.
You can use waterproof fabric to sew shoe bags – I am sure they will be appreciated.
9. If I have enough time, I sew a matching pouch or even two. I love to do this, I would love to have time to sew 10!
I use fabrics assorted with the fabrics used in bag, or even the same fabrics used for the bag. Again, it’s not that much effort, but it shows that you care!
10. My favorite gifts to sew? Soft and lightweight quilted bags for little girls. You can’t fail with this gift! And you really don’t need an occasion to make a little girl happy!
Four of my bag patterns includes templates for small bags, great for little girls- click here to learn more about the patterns.
11. One last thing that I don’t do, unfortunately, but I will try to change this. I should add instructions on how to wash and press the bag. I do this, but only verbally, but I think it is not enough.
How to choose fabrics for bags
If you have trouble in choosing fabrics for your bags, here is how I usually do this.
When I see a beautiful fabric (with a floral or geometric pattern), usually I buy 1/2 yard. If I love it immensely, I buy more! This will be the main fabric of the bag, usually for the front panel.
Most of the time I use only two fabrics for my bags, so the other fabric must complement the main fabric, but it should not draw attention to it. Usually I find this fabric in my stash (think polka dots, stripes, very small scale prints). But I always check the entire collection of the main print and if I find something beautiful, I buy that print.
I use this fabric for the remaining pieces of the bag (the back of the bag, sides, straps…), so I need more and I usually buy 1 yard.
What color? One of the colors of the main print- no exception! It could be a lighter or darker tone. Usually I don’t use a multicolor fabric, if the main fabric already has lots of colors. If you are in doubt – less is more! Simple fabric (like tone on tone fabric) is better then a busy print with lots of colors.
I know you love sewing bags. It is more than sewing with favorite patterns and fabrics. It’s about excitement and sharing and memories made with your loved ones!
Do you need inspiration for your next bag or pouch projects?
Check out my patterns here!