Thursday, 2 August 2012

The 7 stages of bag making

Haven't blogged for a week or so, I've been a bit distracted. I didn't want to neglect my blog for too long so I thought I'd dig out this old post from my previous blog, it's still relevant and gives an insight into the different processes involved in creating a handmade bag.

Stage 1: Design

This stage involves me, usually with a cup of tea in hand,  sitting with a pencil and sketch book doodling until I hit upon a design that I like and think will work. Then, I will spend some time refining the design, changing some details and adding others until I'm completely happy. This stage usually only takes a few minutes.

Stage 2: Making the pattern

I use a good quality lining paper to make my pattern pieces. Knowing in my head the shape that the pieces meed to be, I them decide how big they should be and draw them on to the paper. I will often need to adjust them, rubbing out and re-drawing until they're right. I then have to cut them out and label them, so I know what bag thy are for and whether they are for the main fabric or the lining (they can be a slightly different shape and size). This stage can take up to half an hour.

Stage 3:  Cutting out

The bags are usually made up of 4 different layers;
The main or outer fabric.
Interlining, to reinforce and give body to the fabric.
Lining - this is the fabric that you see on the inside of the bag.
Fusible fleece/wadding, this gives the bag that luxurious plumpness.

So the pattern pieces will need to be pinned to these various materials and then cut out. Most of the pattern pieces will need to be used several times.This stage can take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on the complexity of the bag - some bags have more components than others.

Stage 4:  Making up

This is the most time consuming element of bag making. It involves attaching the interlining and fleece to the relevant pieces, making any pockets and attaching them. Making and attaching any handles, applying labels and fastenings, and assembling the bag and sewing together with matching thread. This stage can take anything up to 4 hours or so, though if it's the first time I've made a particular design it can take much longer. Especially if I suddenly realise that it would be better to do things in a slightly different order or using a slightly different method. But it's all part of the process.

Stage 5:   Embellishments.

This is the fun part, making and applying any flower trims, brooches, hand sewing any beads and glueing on any diamantes. This can take up to half an hour, longer if the trim is very elaborate.

Stage 6: Photographs

Once the bag is complete I need to photograph it for my records and so that I can list it in my shops.  This  takes about 15mins or so. I then need to upload them onto my computer, I normally edit them in Picassa and tag them. I've also started adding a watermark to my images.

Stage 7:   Listing

For this I need to upload the images to my shop, write a description and decide on the all important price. this usually takes me 15 minutes or so.

So you can see that there is quite a lot of work involved in the creation of one of my handmade bags! wonder I feel that I'm not paying myself enough!!!!!


  1. Tell me about it, Linda! A lot of people have no idea how long these processes take, so good on you for blogging about it. :)

    Rosie. x

  2. Thanks, Rosie. perhaps knowing how much work goes into producing a handmade item, will help people to understand why handmade goods are more expensive!

  3. It's exhausting just reading about it! Linda, well done! It explains the process so well and thoroughly and I'm a slow worker so it takes me even longer! But sad to say, I have lost my mojo for making bags. I have two or three already cut out and just need to be stitched etc, but I am currently enjoying my new obsession - making handmade notebooks and journals! So bag making for me is on the back burner for now. Great post - thanks for sharing! Edwina

  4. Sorry to hear that you have lost your inspiration for making bags, they were always so beautiful. But your journals and notebooks are equally lovely :)