What do you need to sew bags? Just a sewing machine and pretty fabric? or not? If you make bags as a hobby or it is your whole career – By the time you have made the first few bags, you would have come to know that sewing bags is addictive. And that the right material and hardware play very important roles with almost equal importance in making your bag beautiful and functionally appropriate.
Here are the most important bag materials as a list. Equipped with these bag making materials you are sure to continue making many many beautiful bags.
Essential Bag making materials
1. Bag fabric
The material with which a bag is made can make or break the appearance of the bag. In fact, as you know, it is almost the whole bag. So choose wisely. The important criteria in choosing the fabric for making bags is that it is sturdy and durable, has the appropriate structure, and looks attractive. The most frequently used materials are canvas, vinyl, leather, pleather, etc
You can checkout this post on 10 best bag making fabrics for a more detailed write-up on this.
There are only a few bag fabrics that do not need interfacing (like leather, fake leather, vinyl, thick canvas). All other fabrics need some interfacing to make them look good enough and with enough structure for making bags.
Fusible / sew-in interfacing is added to the bag fabric to give it body and strength. Choosing the right one is mostly dependent on your choice of fabric for the bag. Fusible interfacing is attached to the fabric (both exterior and the lining) with heat to the backside of the fabric and is available in different thicknesses, even as thick as canvas fabric. Sew-in interfacing is usually thicker and is used similar to underlining in garments. Use woven interfacing for cotton fabrics.
3. Sewing machine
Even though a sewing machine is not a material but an equipment, I have included it here because an appropriate sewing machine is essential for the success of making professional looking bags. If you are making bags as a profession or with passion you cannot do so for long with the regular home sewing machine – especially if you want to work with beautiful fabrics like leather, canvas, etc.
It is simply going to frustrate you to no end and you will get only substandard results even with all the sewing expertise in the world or the best of sewing materials. An industrial sewing machine which will sew through all the layers you want is an asset in making bags
Check out this post to know whether you need to buy an industrial sewing machine or not.
Bag handles are usually made of the bag exterior fabric itself. But webbing made of nylon/cotton fibers makes it very convenient and easy to make handles. They just need to be cut and attached. The side edges of webbing are already neatly finished and they are quite strong. Webbing is available in various widths and many colors.
Check out this post on the 7 different types of Bag handles.
5. D rings & other rings
A D shaped ring is the most commonly used hardware in bags to hang the straps.
Rectangle rings, oval shaped rings, square ones are all used, depending on the straps/handles.
These plastic or metal rings with a divider in between helps to increase or decrease the length of the straps.
Zippers are commonly used for openings in bags /purses and bag pockets. Long zippers with two zipper pulls, one with metal zipper teeth, plastic ones, all are used to make bags.
Here is a post elaborating on the different types of zippers available.
You can personalize the regular zipper pulls with pretty accessories or making customized zipper pulls like in the picture .
When you want to attach something on bags like handles , without sewing, you have no substitute for these.
9. Swivel Snap hooks
These are used to attach the straps – the straps can be conveniently removed and used when needed with the help of this hardware.
10. Magnetic snaps
Another popular opening used in bag making- this consists of two parts, like the regular snaps but because of the magnet used in these snaps they are suitable to close even the thickest of fabric flaps of your bag.
11. Purse locks
This refers to the locks placed as closures on bag/purse flaps by the front.
Bag feet are small buttons placed on the bottom of bags on all four corners of bags so that the bag material would not touch ground.
13. Purse chains
This is a type of handle made of metal chains. Check out this post on Bag handles for learning more about the 18 different kinds used in bags.
14. Frames for purses
The frames give structure to a purse and serve as the closure as well and at the same time give an elegant look. Frames are available in many styles, colors, shapes, and sizes. The clutch frames may be rectangle-shaped or arch-shaped, made of plastic or metal. The metal frames come in different colors – silver, gold, antique brass, rose gold, and gunmetal finish.
Very simple ones to the most ornate purse frames – we have seen it all.
Some purse frames come with a ball closure, some do not have this – they just snap close. This is also called kiss clasp.
Check out this post to know how to make a purse with a metal frame.
Different decorative elements are used to embellish bags – including embroidery, applique.
Metal studs are also used regularly on vinyl and leather bags as accents.
Charms can be added to the bags to decorate them and personalize them. Metal labels can be added to the bag front to give your bag a highly professional look.
A buckle is mostly used as an accent.
Checkout this post on the different ways to add decorations and patterns and texture on fabric surface.
16. Lining / Interlining
Interlining is added to give a padded feeling to your bag and gives a slight 3 D effect. Think a quilted fabric. Other than the usual padded interlining fabric, other materials like foam, fusible fleece and batting are added as interlining. Check out this post on the best lining fabric
17. Grommets and setting tool
If you want to add eyelets /grommets on leather or pleather you need not buy any special tool – but if you have it, it can make a whole lot of difference; especially if you have to make a lot of them.
18. Fabric protective sprays
There are sprays available which act similar to fabric finishes in creating a protective layer on top , even make the fabric waterproof, scratch proof, soil/stain proof. You may want to add it to protect your bag exterior from scratches and other damages.
19. Liquid starch
Liquid starch sprays are used to make fabric stiff and crisp looking.You can dilute the liquid starch in a ratio of 2 parts water and 1 part liquid starch and use it in a spray bottle to use on the bag exterior fabric to make it stiff. But ensure the bag would not be washed – then this will wash out and you have floppiness unlimited.
The usual fasteners like magnetic snaps are alright but sometimes a length of Velcro makes a lot of sense to close openings on bags – you just need to sew the tape on your bag.
Miscellaneous Sewing tools
All the above are mostly specific to bags. All the sewing tools needed for sewing bags remain the same as those used for general sewing. Check out the post on the different types of sewing tools and equipment you need to start your sewing. And the different sewing techniques used here.
Leather sewing kit
If you want to make bags with leather you need appropriate tools to sew leather. There are sewing kits available with needles and thread and other tools needed to sew leather. You can have a look at the 30+ tools/materials used for hand sewing leather.
Aside from the sewing tools like special needles and thread you may also need a tool to make holes on leather, a Leather edge coat to seal the leather edges etc.