Tag Archives: bag construction

DESIGNING BACKPACK STYLES

Photo Courtesy of Millican

Back to school is just around the corner, and with all those new school supplies is often the most forgotten but most important part of a student’s back-to-school wardrobe – the backpack.

The simplest form of backpack, also known as a rucksack/knapsack, is a cloth sack carried on one’s back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders and below the armpits. The shoulder is better suited for bearing heavy weights for long periods of time than the hand, so backpacks are often used for that purpose. Students these days are provided with more and more materials they need to bring on a regular basis. College and university students are often carrying laptops in addition to their daily course texts.

Modern backpacks and rucksacks are essential totebags for everyday use; whether it be for carrying your gym kit in, the student using a backpack for school or on your travels with your gear on your back; people use these packs everyday!  There are a wide range of rucksacks and backpacks of various sizes to fulfill your needs when on the move and are ideal for everyday use as well as during active use such as cycling and hiking.

When it comes to backpacking, size does matter. Mini rucksacks usually have around a 5 – 10 litre capacity.  These rucksacks are usually suitable for young kids to use as schools bags,  to carry sports gear, or simply to use as a lunch bag.  Small to medium sized rucksacks and backpacks are usually between 12 -15 litres and then 20 – 25 litres. This size is ideal for the older child or teen as a all-purpose carryall. Small rucksacks are the perfect size to use as school bags or lap top bags as well as useful for storing everyday gear or a gym kit in.  Medium size bags are just that extra bit larger to use for everyday use.   Medium to large size range of packs are suitable for long walks, hiking trips and treks or simply use as a weekend travel bag. All this back toting can mean a recipe for pain, so remember pack it light and wear it right.

Tips for designing and wearing the backpack right

Here are a few simple steps to provide for worry-free carrying through thoughtful design and styling.

1. Ideally, a properly designed backpack should include:

  •     well-padded shoulder straps – the shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and should not fit too snugly around the arms, straining muscles and affecting nerves.
  •     a significant hip belt is always a plus – a strap or belt can take as much as 50-70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine.  The belt must be worn at hip bone level and will transfer the weight load to the pelvic bone and through it, down to the legs, equalizing the strain on bones, joints and muscles.
  •     compression straps to keep the pack tight together – on the side of the pack they help to keep a less full pack from shifting weight backwards and away from the body.
  •     sized-to-fit the torso of the person (adult or child) wearing it – the top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.

2. Properly weighted backpack should be:

  •     designed to pack heavy items close to the body
  •     bag capacity (volume) should hold no more than 15% of body weight for teens & adults and 10% for children
  •     designed with lots of compartments to keep contents from moving around while walking

3. Properly worn backpack should:

  •     have heavy items close to the body helps keep the weight close to the body’s center of gravity
  •     be worn with both shoulder straps – slinging a pack on one side causes strain and a lean to the person wearing the pack
  •     be put on with the pack on a table or desk – helps from straining the low back twisting to put on the pack

Here is a simple design to create based upon rucksacks of yesteryear.

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Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight

OLD SCHOOL BACKPACK

“OLD SCHOOL BACKPACK”

Around campus or across the country, make the journey more beautiful with this vintage-inspired backpack.

Dimensions: approximately 14” high X 12” wide X 7” deep (35.5 cm x 30.5 cm x 18 cm) with grab handle with dual adjustable 17” (43 cm) shoulder straps for versatility and exterior flap and zip pockets at the front and sides.

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process. Topstitching adds a decorative element while reinforcing all seams for durability.

Material Used: 100% cotton denim canvas, 54″ wide; trim: pigskin leather; lined-interior features a back wall zip pocket and front wall slip pockets, made of 100% cotton ticking.

You will need:

  • 1 yd. (.90 m) canvas or upholstery weight fashion fabric, 54” wide (137 cm)
  • 3/4 yd. (.70 m) heavy-weight lining fabric, 54” wide (137 cm)
  • 1/2 pigskin leather hide for trim
  • 3/4 yd. (.70 m) fusible interfacing, 60” wide (153 cm)
  • 1/4 yd. (.25 m) transfer web, 36” wide (91 cm)
  • 2 ¼ yds. (2 m) cotton/polyester webbing, 2” wide (50 mm)
  • 8 metal grommets, ¾” dia. (20 mm)
  • 2 metal zippers, 7” long (18 cm)
  • 1 nylon zipper, 8” long (20 cm)
  • 1 metal dome snap set, ” dia. (15 mm)
  • 2 metal buckles, 2” inner dia. (50 mm)
  • 2 metal square rings, 2” inner dia. (50 mm)
  • 1 metal O- ring, 2” dia. (50 mm)
  • 2 connector rings for zippers, ¼” dia. (6 mm)
  • 1 hook & loop fastener, 1” wide (25 mm)
  • heavy-duty all-purpose thread
  • double-sided mounting tape
  • rotary cutter
  • hole punch
  • awl
  • kraft paper

Design Tip: Match the hardware and zipper metals in colour and metal finish for a sleek unified look. Colour coordinate your choice of trim with the bag strapping to achieve further harmony in your design.

Pattern

The draft and formation of this backpack is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the drafting scale.

** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces, except pocket flap and bag flap.

Draft Body Pattern

Drafting scale = the depth of the bag; in this case, 7 inches (18 cm)

click to magnify

On kraft paper, plot a straight line vertically from A to B; AB = 2 X scale minus 2″ (5 cm).

Square (90 degree angle) a horizontal straight line from A to C; AC = 20″ (51 cm).

Square across from B and down from C to locate DABCD is a rectangle.

1 from A = half the distance between AB; square across to locate 2.

3 from 1 = 2 X scale minus 2″ (5 cm).

Square up and down from 3 to locate 4 and 5.

6 from 2 = the scale

Square up and down from 6 to locate 7 and 8.

9 from 7 = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 9 to point 6 with a straight line.

10 from C = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 10 to point 2 with a straight line.

This is the pattern for the side lining. Label cut 2X lining.

11 from A = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 11 to point 1 with a straight line.

12 from 4 = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 12 to point 3 with a straight line.

Point 13 is located midway 11 and 12; square down to locate 14.

This is the pattern for the back section. Label cut 1X self.

The same draft may be used for the Front and Back Lining. Trace off and label, cut 2X lining.

click to magnify

Trace off the draft onto kraft paper.

15 from 6 = 2″ (5 cm). Join point 15 to point 2 with a straight line.

Cut on line 15-2 to create the Upper Side and Lower Side pattern pieces.

Label the Upper Side cut 2X self.

Label the Lower Side Cut 2X self and cut 2X lining (pocket bag).

Point 16 is located at the intersection of lines 1-2 and 13-14.

Point 17 = the distance between 1 and 16 minus 2″ (5 cm).

Point 18 = the distance between 16 and 3 minus 2″ (5 cm).

This is the placement line for the front bellow pocket.

Points 19 and 20 are located 3/8″ (1 cm) above points 17 and 18.

This is the placement line for the front pocket flap.

This completes the draft for the front pattern. Label cut 1X self.

Draft Bottom (Base) Pattern

On kraft paper, plot a straight line vertically from A to BAB = scale

click to magnify

Square (90 degree angle) a horizontal straight line from A to C; AC = 2 x scale minus 2″ (5 cm).

Square across from B and down from C to locate D.  ABCD is a rectangle.

1 from A = 1/2″ (12 mm).

2 from 1 = 2″ (5 cm).

3 from C = 1/2″ (12 mm).

4 from 3 = 2″ (5 cm).

Points 1-2 and 3-4 are the placement points for the connector ring tabs.

Point 5 is midway between B and D and marks the centerfront (CF) of the bag.

Draft Front Bellow Pocket Pattern

Trace off points 14, 16, 17, and 18 from Front pattern draft onto kraft paper.

click to magnify

Square down from points 17 and 18; and across from point 14 to locate A and B.

C-D is equidistant from 17-18; C-17 and D-18 = 1/2″ (5 cm).

E from 14 = 1″ (2.5 cm).

Square across from E to locate F at intersection of 17-A.

Square across from E to locate G at intersection of 18-B.

H from G = 1″ (2.5 cm).

I from F = 1″ (2.5 cm).

Join D-H and H-B with a straight line.

Join C-I and I-A with a straight line.

Draw a tangent line from G at a 45 degree angle.

J from G = 1″ (2.5 cm). Join J to B and H with a straight line.

K from F = 1″ (2.5 cm). Join K to I and A with a straight line.

This is the pattern for the bellow pocket. Label cut 1X self.

Mark placement location of hook & loop fastener (at center) about 1/2″ (12 mm) from point 16.

Draft Front Pocket Flap Pattern

Trace off points 16, 17 and 18 from Front pattern draft onto kraft paper.

Square down from 16 to locate L; L from 16 = 3/4 of scale.

Square down from 17 and 18; and across from L to locate M and N at the intersections of the lines.

Gradually round off the corners at M and N.

This is the pattern for the Front Pocket. Label cut 1X self and cut 1X lining.

Indicate the placement of the hook & loop fastener at center approximately 3/8″ (1 cm) above L.

Draft Top Flap Pattern

Trace off points 11, 12, and 13 from Back Pattern draft onto kraft paper.

click to magnify

Square down from 13 to locate P; P from 13 = scale amount + 2″ (5 cm).

Square down from 11 and 12; and across from P to locate Q and R at the intersections of the lines.

Gradually round off the corners at Q and R.

This is the pattern for the Top Flap . Label cut 1X self and cut 1X lining.

Indicate the placement of the clasp at center approximately 4″ (10 cm) above P.

Draft Drawcord Placket Pattern

Draw an oblong shape on kraft paper.

The length = 2 x (distance between 11 and 12 + distance between 9 and 10), from the body draft.

The width = 4″ (10 cm).

Label pattern, cut 1X self.

Cutting

Back and Front – cut 2X self; cut 2X lining

Upper Side – cut 2X self

Lower Side – cut 2X self; cut 2X lining

Bottom – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining

Bag Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining

Front Pocket Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining

Front Bellow Pocket – cut 1X self

Bag Placket – cut 1X self

Side Lining – cut 2X lining

Drawcord – cut strip 53” X 2” (135 cm X 5 cm) self fabric

Interior pocket – cut 2 squares lining, 11” X 11” (28 cm X 28 cm)

Assembly

Small Parts Preparation

Make shoulder strap from webbing. Cut 2 lengths of webbing 36 inches long (90 cm). Attach a buckle on one end of each length and turn-under the cut end. Stitch across the width of the strap to finish neatly. Set the pair aside.

Make drawcord. Cut a strip of fabric 53” X 2” (135 cm X 5 cm). With wrong sides together, fold strip in half lengthwise and press flat. Open strip and fold in long raw edges to the center of the fold. Press flat. Refold strip and stitch close along open edge. Set drawcord aside.

Make grab handle. Cut a length of leather using a rotary cutter (or x-acto knife) 12 inches X 2.5 inches (30.5 cm X 6.5 cm). Using an awl, score down the length on the wrong side of the leather. Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and fold the leather in half lengthwise. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the cut edge of the strip’s length. Set aside.

Make leather clasp. Cut 2 lengths of leather using a rotary cutter 8 inches X 1.5 inches (20 cm X 3.7 cm). On one of the pieces, make a centred hole using a hole-punch, 3 inches (7.5 cm)from one end of the leather strip. Attach the stud portion of the snap set (receiving end) and rivet into the hole, following manufacturer’s directions.

Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and place onto the other leather piece, with wrong sides together. Carefully round the short ends of the leather trim. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the perimeter edge of the trim.

On the end of the trim piece without the hardware, make a centred hole approximately 1 inch (25 mm) from the end and attach the remainder of the snap set, with the dome stem coming through the hole so that the socket is facing upward on the same side of the trim as the stud portion of the set. Set clasp aside.

Make ring tab. Cut 1 length of leather using a rotary cutter 6 inches X 3 inches (15 cm X 7.5 cm). Score along the length on the wrong side of the strip, 3/8-inch (10 mm) on either side. Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and fold the leather in half lengthwise. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the folded edge of the trim.

Wrap the leather trim around the O-ring and machine stitch across the trim’s width, as close as possible to the ring. Trim any excess from the backside of the leather. Set aside.

Click to magnify

Pocket & Bag Flaps

Iron on fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the front pocket flap and its lining piece. With face sides together, match and align the layers. Pin/baste along the straight edge of the flap and sew a scant 1/4-inch seam (6 mm). Press seam open.

Iron on transfer web to the wrong side of the exterior portion of the pocket flap, following manufacturer’s directions.

Center a 2-inch length of the hook side of hook & loop fastener vertically, on the face side of the lining portion, about 1/2-inch (12 mm) from the rounded edge of the pocket flap. Stitch in place.

Peel the paper coating from the transfer web and with wrong sides together, fold the pocket flap in half (on the seamline) and match/align the rounded edges. Fuse the two layer together from the lining side while working around the loop fastener. Stitch along the curved raw edge to secure.

Measure the curved edge of the flap and cut a 3/4-inch (20 mm) wide strip of leather equal to the measurement taken. On the wrong side of the leather, score down the center of its length and apply double-sided mounting tape. Peel off the paper covering from the tape and carefully wrap the raw edges of the flap. Machine-stitch in place using a long stitch length. Set pocket flap aside.

Repeat the same procedure for the bag flap except, instead of the loop fastener step on the interior lining, attach the leather clasp to the exterior portion of the flap once the bag flap is completed.

Set bag flap aside.

Front Pocket

Make up front bellow pocket. Turn under a 1/4 inch (6 mm) double hem along top of pocket piece. Press and topstitch down. Center a 2-inch (5 cm) length of the loop side of hook & loop fastener horizontally, on the face side of the pocket. Stitch in place along the completed edge of the pocket opening.

At each bottom notched corner, fold the pocket with face sides together and align seam. Pin/baste dart and sew each corner dart. Press seam to one side and topstitch along seam, face up to reinforce the darts. Turn under seam allowance and press flat. Set front pocket aside.

Click to magnify

Insert Zipper In Sides

Cut 2 strips of fabric, about 8 inches X 1 ¼ inches (20 cm X 3 cm) to make pocket welts. Fold each strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, and press flat. With face sides up, align raw edges along side pocket opening and pin/baste in place. Stitch a welt to each the upper and lower side pieces. Grade seam allowances and press flat.

Next attach zipper in place using a zipper foot, but before doing so, modify the zipper head. In most cases, you will have available only a regular metal closed zipper to purchase. Using needle-nosed pliers, carefully remove the pull tab from the zipper head and insert a metal connector ring in its place. Cut a 12-inch (30 cm) length of leather 3/8-inch (10 mm) wide and loop it through the connector ring using a cow hitch knot. Repeat for the zipper on the opposite side.

To attach the zipper, center it along the welt of each side piece so that the zipper zips closed from the back of the bag downward to the front of the bag. Stitch in place.

Align and match the lower side lining piece to the outer edges of the lower side of the bag. Baste in place. Along the upper side welt, pin the zipper tape to the top of the lining and stitch together.

With face side up, topstitch along welt seams.

Repeat this procedure for the opposite side panels. Set both aside.

Insert Zip Pocket in Lining

Make interior zippered pocket. On the interior of the backpack, the lining on the back wall features a zip pocket. Start by ironing a strip of fusible interfacing to an edge of one of the interior pocket squares. Cut the interfacing 11” X 2” (28 cm X 5 cm) and fuse it to the wrong side of the lining fabric.

With face sides together, center the pocket lining onto the back lining portion, placing the pocket lining so that it aligns with the bottom edge of the back lining. Pin/baste in place. On the interfaced edge of the pocket lining, mark out an opening for the zipper about 1/4-inch wide (6 mm) and as long as the length of the zipper teeth. Stitch around this outline with neat squared corners, then slash through the middle of this outline and cut diagonally into each of the corners. Push lining through the cut opening and press opening flat to neaten. Align and center zipper face up behind the opening and pin/baste zipper in place. Topstitch around pocket opening to attach zipper in place.

From wrong side of the back lining portion, fold the pocket lining upward to meet with the top edge of the zipper tape. Pin/baste pocket lining to zipper and sew along the zipper tape to secure in place. Sew up each side of the pocket lining to create a “pocket bag” ensuring to stitch through the diagonal cuts at each end of the zippered opening. (see more about inset zipper method)

Attach Slip Pocket in Lining

Make interior slip pocket. On the interior of the backpack, the lining on the front wall features a slip pocket. Start by folding the remaining pocket square in half, with face sides together. Sew up each side of the pocket using a scant 1/4-inch (6 mm) seam allowance. Press seams open and turn pocket right-side-out; press flat.

With face sides of the fabrics up and the raw edges of the slip pocket facing upward, center-align the pocket onto the front lining portion, placing the folded edge of the pocket so that it matches with the bottom edge of the front lining. Pin/baste raw edge of the pocket in place. Stitch along the raw edge, using a scant 1/4-inch (6 mm) seam allowance. Trim seam allowance, if needed. Fold pocket up and press flat. Topstitch along the outer edges of the slip pocket leaving the folded side open. If desired, you can divide the slip pocket by stitching through its surface to create compartments for smaller items like cellphone, sunglasses, or wallet.

Lining Assembly

Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the bottom lining piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.

With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the front and back lining sections to each long side of the bottom lining. Ensure that the zip and slip pockets are facing upward. Stitch each seam and grade seam allowances towards the front and back lining sections. With face side up, edgestitch the seam on the front and back interior portions.

Next, add sides to interior; match and align one side section to each side of the lining to create a bag. Pin/baste and sew up side seams. Press seams open. Set interior lining aside.

Bag Assembly

Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the bottom bag piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Cut 2 lengths of webbing, 4 inches (10 cm) long. Thread each length of strapping through a square connector ring and fold webbing in half. Stitch across the width of the strap to secure ring neatly. Attach each ringed tab to one long edge of bottom section, face up, and approximately 2 ½ inches (6.5 cm) from each short end. Baste in place. Set bottom section aside.

Center the front pocket so that its opening aligns with the zip openings at the side of the bag (in this case about 6″ (15 cm) from the bottom of the front bag section). Pin/baste turned edges of the front pocket to the front of the backpack and edgestitch in place.

Next, attach ringed leather tab. Center the leather trim on the backpack front section, about 1/4-inch (6 mm) above the front pocket opening. Machine-stitch leather tab in place with the ring facing upward.

Add pocket flap by placing it lined side up, approximately 1/4-inch ( 6 mm) above the front pocket opening and ensuring that the cut end of the ring tab in sandwiched under the pocket flap to encase it. Double stitch along the straight edge of the pocket flap to secure in place. Fold down pocket flap.

With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the back exterior section to the long side of the bottom of the backpack, with the connector ring tabs. Stitch the seam ensuring to catch the tabs in the stitching of the seam. Grade the seam allowance toward the bottom section and on the face side, edgestitch along the seam on the bottom section.

With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the front exterior section to the long side of the bottom of the backpack. Machine-stitch the seam. Grade the seam allowance towards the bottom section and on the face side, edgestitch along the seam on the bottom section.

Add sides to exterior; match and align one side section to each side of the backpack, with the side zipper pockets positioned to close in the direction of the front of the backpack. Pin/baste and sew up side seams. Grade seam allowances. Edgestitch along side seam, on front, bottom, and back sections to reinforce the seam.

Click to magnify

Attach Placket to Bag Opening

Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the placket piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Match and align the short ends of the placket, with face sides together. Stitch together to form a loop of fabric. Press seam open. Fold placket in half, with face sides out, and match up raw edges. Baste together and press fold. Edgestitch along the folded edge of the placket.

With face sides together, align and match placket to body of bag along the raw edges. Pin/baste placket to bag opening.

On back section of bag, thread webbing straps through the ringed connectors, then drawing though each buckle end of the strapping. Attach the cut end of the strap to the placket, approximately 4 inches on either side of center on the back section. Pin/baste in place.

Between the two webbing straps, place each end of the grab handle next to the webbing and pin/baste in place.

Sew around opening of the bag, catching the grab handle and webbing straps in the stitching. Turn the placket facing upward and edgestitch along the seam on the body portion of the backpack.

Mark a placement location 1 ½” (4 cm) on either side of each vertical seam (8 in total) in the middle of the placket width and insert grommets (2 on each side), following manufacturer’s directions.

Position bag flap along turned placket bottom edge, centred between the back sideseams, and double-stitch in place, through the seam allowance.

Finishing

Insert the lining by dropping it into the cavity of the bag. Align it so the interior zip pocket is on the back wall of the backpack and the side seams match up. Slipstitch top edge of lining to base of the placket to enclose the raw edge.

Lace the drawcord through the grommets and tie a knot at the ends of the drawcord.

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IMPORTANCE OF CREATING MOCK-UPS

Photo Credit: Dave Lloyd

Mock-ups or samples of the prototype are almost always required on high fashion and commercial projects by the designer before bag construction can begin. For a DIY project, you can use these same quality-assurance methods to ensure a superior product and meet your expectations.

Mock-ups ensure that the finished product will meet the designer’s vision, and are used as a benchmark to gauge the quality of the workmanship and materials once the pattern-making is completed. All too often on design-it-yourself projects, this “check and balance” system is overlooked or considered to be an unnecessary option. For a novice DIYer, investing a little time up front creating a mock-up of the bag design, can be the difference between a successful hand-made project or a “homemade” job with much disappointment.

“How do you meet ‘high-standard’ expectations?” The answer is simple: you create them.

When conducting classes and workshops I like to ask the question, “How do you meet your own creative expectations?” The answer is simple: you create them. The best way to do that is to execute the finished product before any real work is done. This gets the pattern making and the assembly process “on the same page”. If the designer does this front-end work and job planning correctly, then meeting any high-standard expectation is a simple process of recreating what has already been demonstrated. This goes a long way toward ensuring successful results. In the long run, it saves labour, time, and money.

One important consideration is to value mistakes….believe it or not, mistakes can be beneficial. They cause us to search for a different, and often better way. They facilitate experimentation with new materials, techniques, or styles. Mistakes or challenges (as I like to call them) are an important part of the design process because they provide unique opportunities for creativity. Always make a mock-up of the bag design to test your pattern before cutting into your expensive or perhaps, limited material. Don’t be disappointed if it does not ‘turn out ‘ on the first attempt as planned; that is what sample mock-ups are for. Make as many attempts as needed to achieve your desired goal. These mock-ups allow you to modify the end result, correct the pattern, and work out the sewing/assembly process.

Unlike large-scale commercial projects, creating mock-ups for single bag designs can be pretty painless. With the products, tools, and techniques available today, DIY can produce samples quickly and affordably. If you have a limited quantity of material available or your material is costly to experiment with, making up a sample in a cheaper fabrication is acceptable. A good example would be using the saddle-stitched leather handbag tutorial made up in thick wool felt. The felt is similar in weight and texture as cowhide leather yet inexpensive to purchase. Felt has similar characteristics as leather, such as it does not fray when cut and there is no directional grain to the material. The wool felt is marked and cut the same way the leather is worked, then applying the saddle-stitching by hand, inserting the zipper closure, adding hardware and strap handle to complete it. A finished bag design mock-up [upper left] is created that can be easily be reproduced in the high-quality tanned cowhide leather [lower left]. 

Once the mock-up was made, it was scrutinized and deemed that a shorter extended zipper was needed and that the strap handle should be tightened up in its overall length, as seen in the final prototype. Keep in mind, all mock-ups must be constructed using the same weight and texture as the final material(s), with the same hardware, and assembly methods that will be used on the final project.

Remember, it is always better – and more affordable – to know that you are knowledgeable with the construction of the proposed project before the work begins than to find out you are uncertain how to execute or finish your project.

Enjoy the Process! Don’t forget the reason why you’re doing this mock-up, regardless of what materials you choose or the size of your budget, even if your concentration is on the end product, . . .  don’t forget to have fun with the process of designing your own handbag.


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ZIPPERED CLUTCH BAG

‘Lined Zippered Clutch Bag’

A simple clutch bag is probably everyone’s favourite handbag. And for good reason … it is so classic in style and never looks dated. Mostly though, we love how this minimalist look can be made quick and easily, using the simple lined zippered bag technique, in different sizes and for different occasions, from coin purse to cosmetic bag or hand clutch to full-sized portfolio.

Dimensions: approximately 12” wide x 11” high x 1” deep

                                                    [30cm W x 28cm H x 2.5cm D]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% cotton tapestry; and 100% cotton pocketing fabric

You will need:

  • 1 upholstery square*, 25” X 25” (64cm X 64cm)
  • 1/3 yd. (30 cm) of pocket lining fabric, 54” wide (138 cm)
  • 1/3 yd. (30 cm) of fusible interfacing, 44” wide (112cm)
  • 1 closed luggage zipper (length equal to desired width of bag)
  • coordinating thread
  • kraft paper

PATTERN

The draft and formation of this clutch bag is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the desired length of the zipper opening. There are no seam allowances added to the side seams of the pattern pieces. The length of the pattern (bag height) is whatever you desire as a finished length plus seam allowance. The zipper length used in the prototype sample is 12” [30 cm] long.

The formation of the bag’s interior lining is the same as the exterior with a divider insert. The divider piece should be cut out as wide as the exterior of the bag and twice the height of the bag less 1-inch (25 mm), allowing it to be folded on itself to form a divided compartment for the interior.

Seam allowance (1/2” – 12 mm) is included in all drafts.

CUTTING

Bag Exterior – cut 2X upholstery fabric

Bag Interior – cut 2X lining fabric

Lining divider – cut 1X lining fabric

ASSEMBLY

1. Iron fusible interfacing to back of upholstery fabric, following manufacturer’s directions. (Design Note: if your fashion fabric has a textured or raised surface, baste a non-fusible interface to the fabric as heat and pressure of application will destroy the beauty of the fabric’s surface.)

2. Fold the lining divider fabric in half, with wrong sides of fabric facing together. Pin/baste divider to one of the lining pieces, with the folded edge about 1-inch [25 mm] from the top edge of the lining piece. Trim any excess fabric away from the lining’s outer edges, if necessary. Set aside.

zipper12

3.  Attach zipper. Layer the lining on top of the exterior with FACE SIDES together, and sandwich the zipper (FACE SIDE DOWN facing the exterior) between the 2 layers.

Line up the three layers and pin/baste together. Using a zipper foot, sew across the top along the edge of your zipper sandwich and the zipper teeth.

Repeat this step for the other side (edge) of the zipper. You can edgestitch the lining sections along the zipper tape now, if you wish (optional).

4. Layer both pieces of lining to one side and both pieces of the exterior fabric to the other side of the zipper, with FACE SIDES together (note: remember to open the zipper at least halfway so that the bag can be turned right-side-out once the seams are stitched). The zipper teeth should be pinned toward the lining side. Lay the zipper ends on top of each other with teeth facing the lining side and pin.

5. Sew all the way around the perimeter edge. Ensure you sew on the outside of the metal parts on each end of the zipper, this will be easy to do if you cut your fabric the total length of the zipper tape. Leave an opening at the bottom of the lining side. Round the bottom corners OR miter the corners, as desired. Press seams open.

Click on illustrations to magnify.

6. Turn bag right-side-out. Stitch opening on lining closed by machine or slipstitch by hand.

7. Drop the lining portion inside the cavity of the bag to complete.

* Upholstery squares are often found for sale in remnant bins at your fabric retailer. They are usually cut from the last few yards remaining on the end of a bolt of upholstery fabric for quick sale as pillow and cushion covers.

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MULTI-POCKET URBAN TOTE

“multi-pocket urban tote”

Smart-looking yet functional in commuter bag designs. An urban carry-all with a variety of pocket compartments for wallet, cellphone and PC notebook makes it the perfect everyday tote. Carry in your hand, on your shoulder or across your chest.

Dimensions: 17″ high / 15″ wide / 2″ deep with a 42″ [1.1 m] adjustable shoulder strap and exterior pockets. [43cm X 38cm X 5 cm]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% Olefin sueded automotive upholstery, 54″ [137 cm] wide; trimmed with PVC leatherette vinyl, 60″ [152 cm] wide.

You will need:

  • 2 D-rings, 1” [25 mm] inner dia.
  • 2 swivel clasps, 2” [50 mm] inner dia.
  • 1 square slider buckle, 2” [50 mm] inner dia.
  • 1 square bracket ring, 2” [50 mm] inner dia.
  • 1 pocket zipper, 10” [26 mm] long
  • 1 closed zipper, 14” [35 mm] long
  • 1 closed zipper, 22” [56 cm] long
  • 2 dome snaps, ½” [12 mm] dia.
  • 12 rivets, ½” [12 mm] dia.
  • 2½ yds. [2.3 m] webbing, 2” [50 mm] wide
  • 1 spool upholstery thread
  • 1.10 yds. [1 m] upholstery fabric, 54” [137 cm] wide
  • ¼ yd. [0.25 m] vinyl leatherette, 60” [152 cm] wide
  • 2 ½ yds. [2.3 m] of single-fold bias tape, ½-inch wide [12 mm]
  • a small remnant of fusible interfacing
  • 1 roll of kraft paper

Design Note: Coordinate metal colour and finishes for the zippers and hardware; do the same for dome snaps and rivets.

PATTERN

This is a simple block design. Plot and cut block layout directly onto the fabric according to the measurements given (seam allowance is NOT included); OR draft onto kraft paper for a permanent hard-copy pattern.

BODY  PATTERN

** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces.

CUTTING



  • cut body of the bag on straight of grain (or cross-grain for railroaded fabric; for a directional pattern on straight-grain you will need to purchase additional yardage.)
  • cut one of each pattern piece on straight grain
  • cut 2 strap handles from webbing; each is 20” [51 cm] long.
  • cut 1 short shoulder strap from webbing 15” [38 cm] long.
  • cut 1 long shoulder strap from webbing 33” [84 cm] long.
  • cut 2 rectangles from leatherette; each is 8” [20 cm] long and 3” [7.5 cm] wide.
  • cut 4 tabs from leatherette; each tab is 2” [5 cm] long and 2” [5 cm] wide.
  • cut 2 loops from leatherette; each loop is 4” [10 cm] long and 1” [2.5 cm] wide.
  • cut 1 oblong from leatherette; it is 11” [28 cm] long and 1½” [4 cm] wide.

Design Note: Use an x-acto knife and metal ruler to cut the leatherette neatly.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Make up shoulder strap pieces and D-ring loops. Place the bracket ring onto the short webbing strap piece and attach at one end. On the long strap piece, add a slider buckle and attach to one end. Add a swivel clasp at the open end of shoulder strap, then insert strapping through the slider and attach open end to the bracket ring on the shorter strap. Attach the remaining swivel clasp to the short strap section. Set aside.
  2. Make exterior pockets. For the wallet, cell phone, and utility pockets, fold and miter lower corners of pocket pieces. Turn under the top edge of the pocket and press flat. Topstitch the top edge of pocket. For pockets with dome snaps, fuse a small piece of interfacing to back of fabric to accept the hardware in its placement position. Turn under the seam allowance along the sides and bottom of the pockets and press flat around perimeter of pockets. Set aside.
  3. For the envelope pocket, outline the zipper opening with stay-stitching and insert zipper. To hide the cut edges of the zipper opening, use the oblong strip cut from the leatherette as a frame around the zipper. Dry-fit the leatherette to the zipper opening and cut out a slot for the zipper and topstitch in place. Next, turn under the seam allowance on all sides of the pocket and press flat. Set aside.
  4. For pocket flap, fuse interfacing to back of fabric. With FACE SIDES together, fold flap in half lengthwise and sew up short ends. Grade and trim points; turn right-side-out and press flat. Set aside.
  5. For notebook pocket, press under top edge of pocket. Align and center zipper to top edge and topstitch in place. Turn under seam allowance along sides and bottom of pocket and press flat. Turn under seam allowance along perimeter of pocket and press flat. Set aside.
  6. For zipper flap, fuse interfacing to back of fabric. With FACE SIDES together, fold flap in half lengthwise and sew up short ends. Grade and trim points; turn right-side-out and press flat. Set aside.
  7. Do a Hong Kong finish to neaten all vertical seams of the main body section.
  8. Following the illustration, place each pocket to its location on the body section while it is still flat and edgestitch around the pockets. For pockets and flaps with dome snap closures, you will need to attach part of the “set” to the bag body or pocket prior to sewing the pocket in place. Reinforce the fabric at the connection point by fusing a small piece of interfacing to the location to stabilize the fabric for receiving the dome snap. Follow manufacturer’s direction for installation.
  9. Add a leatherette pull-tab to the end of the long zipper. With FACE SIDES together, fold the body section in half and insert long zipper to top edge of bag. The zipper will extend beyond the top edge of the bag. (Remember to open zipper before stitching up bag as you will need to turn it right side out.)
  10. With FACE sides together, sew the vertical seams and press open. Then, align and match the side of the bag to its bottom. Sew from corner to corner to miter the seam. Bind the raw edge of this seam with bias tape and complete a Hong Kong seam finish. Turn body of the bag right-side out. Set aside.
  11. Cut the two strap pieces from the webbing. These will be the bag handles. Measure each handle strap to 20″ [51 cm] long. Center a rectangle of leatherette in the middle of the strap to form a handle and wrap it around the webbing. Fold the webbing widthwise and stitch down. Set aside.
  12. With FACE SIDE UP, turn under seam allowance along the top edge of the bag and press flat. Turn under 1” [25mm] to face the bag opening and topstitch in place around the opening.
  13. Sew the D-ring loops to each side seam just below the top facing stitching. Add rivets following manufacturer’s directions.
  14. Sew 2 leatherette tabs FACE DOWN to the edge of the bag opening (5” [12.5 cm] from the side seams) on the front and back on the bag opening. Sew through the middle of each tab. Place handle straps ends on top of a tab and secure in place. Fold the tab in half to encase the strap end and topstitch around the edge of the tab. Add rivets following manufacturer’s directions.
  15. Clip on swivel clasps to D-rings.

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CLUTCH PLAY



When you’re headed out for a special event, all you need is this petite evening clutch and your M.I.L.K. (Money, ID, Lipstick and Keys).

Check out my latest design-it-yourself bag project in the current issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine. (Apr/May 2011), along with the best of the season for today’s sewing.

Photo: Courtesy of Vogue Pattern

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BEAUTIFUL BAG INTERIORS ARE A MUST

Credit: Fendi-Firenze

Beautiful handbags interiors are a must!

Handbags can represent different aspects of individual personality and preferences. Not only do their interiors accent style and personal fashion, they quietly make a image statement. As the designer, I am the only one that decides if I will create a handbag based not only on the outside style, leather, etc. but also on the inside lining.

I know, notwithstanding the design considerations that pertain to the actual making of the product, there are other factors to consider. The bag styling must be designed to meet the needs of the maker. In other words, the interior lining of the bag needs to be functional, as well as have a unique balance of style, colour and form in appearance.

What is it going to carry? Is it for daily use or only for special occasions? Does it have one purpose or multifaceted? It helps to know how you intend to use it. What is important to you about your handbag’s interior – strength, security, organization, etc? Make a wish-list about what you want included in the design. These requirements need not limit the degree of sophistication of the finished product nor the quality of the components. You can work to produce the best-looking fashion accessory for your own needs, within the given constraints.

Aesthetics of the bag interior plays an important role in dealing with the nature of the creation and appreciation of beauty in the product. The lining must be beautiful to the eye. My approach is to use a vibrant colour or print as my medium when designing a subdued, conservative  bag style; and to keep the lining in a subtle solid colour if the exterior is very ornate. Keep in mind that lighter colours will show soiling more easily, as well as wear-and-tear.

There are two kinds of bag lining construction – either drop-in or fixed, that can be added to the interior of the bag for support and appearance. Both methods can incorporate a lot of practical storage compartments and zipper pockets, as well as welt seams, adding to the complexity of the design.

The drop-in lining method is perhaps the easiest to make. Basically, you are making it separately from the outside of the bag. These lining pieces are more or less square grids with the bottom corners cut out. This gives a lining the same size and shape as the body of the bag before being inserted into the bag cavity and attached to the opening.

Alternatively, the fixed lining method is made as part of the exterior assembly while everything is flat. In many cases, it is sewn on three sides, with the fourth side left open for turning. It is important that you think about the construction step-by-step so that you can do the necessary operations while you have access to the part. You cannot sew a pocket into the lining or attach carrying straps after the bag is complete. You have to do the operation when it will fit into the sewing machine.

Suitability for a given purpose is my rational for using synthetic and treated fabrics for linings in my handbag designs. While they are called man-made, it is somewhat interesting to realize that they have a lot in common with the amount of ‘man-made’ in do-it-yourself. Choose from fabrics, such as percale, faille, and moiré, that are tightly woven, then bond them with fusible knit interfacing or flannel. This special treatment gives them their strength and their value. Normally the fabric linings available in fashion come from the garment industry. They are thin and inexpensive, but they cannot match bonded fabrics for strength and durability, and won’t fray or stretch.

Lining is a very important factor for judging the quality of a bag. Generally speaking, poor quality will not do well enough in the long run. Most of us judge a bag’s quality based on its appearance, yet seldom pay attention to details of its lining. If you like the looks of the inside, you’ll like the outside also and you’ll like designing your own bag even more.

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