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Monday, 20 April 2015

Handbags and Wallets Part 2

We started with an ongoing series of blogs on designing and making handbags and wallets. In the first blog we developed some ideas and designs for a number of bags and wallets. If you don't want to design your own pattern you can buy and download the pattern here from We then focused on one specific bag and designed a pattern for it. We opted to call it a paneled bag, since the sides were divided into panels. In this blog we will start with the construction of the bag, which will stretch over three blogs.

With the design figured out and the pattern in place, it was now time to start assembling the handbag. But as always we have to start with the layout of the pattern on the fabric. The main fabric I worked with had a definite pattern and I would have to bear this in mind when laying out the pattern. I start with the sling, the base and the zipper flaps which are all straight and rather long patterns.

When laying out the pattern for the panels, I lay them out as a whole so that the pattern will continue to make sense even with seam lines running through them. I need two of these. It does not show on the photo, but I also cut two of the Whole Centre Panels from the fabric.

I cut a base and two zipper flaps from the lining. I also cut two of the panel sets as pictured. What is not visible in the photo is that I also cut 4 more (6 in total) of the split centre panels each. I then cut two whole centre panels as well.

I always like to do the zippers first. The reason is that it is much easier to attach a zipper to an item before the item gets clumsy to handle due to the extra weight from the other pieces attached to it. You will need three zippers for this bag, 2 short (about 20 cm) and a longer one (approximately 50 cm).

Let’s start with the long zipper. Pin it with the right sides facing each other to one of the zipper flaps cut from fabric. Line the side of the zipper up with the edge of the fabric.

Pin a zipper flap cut from lining to the other side of the zipper so that the zipper is sandwiched between the two pieces of fabric. The right side of the lining should face the zipper’s wrong side.

Attach the zipper foot to your machine, adjust the needle position and sew as close to the zipper as possible.

Do the same thing with the other side of the zipper and the two leftover zipper flaps. Iron the flaps flat when you are done.

We are going to attach a zipper to one of the pockets on the inside of the bag and another zipper to one of the pockets on the outside of the bag. The procedure is exactly the same for both. The only difference is in the choice of fabric that the zipper is attached to, i.e. either attach it the lining or the fabric. Align the zipper with the bigger of the Split Middle Panels. The right side of the zipper should face the right side of the fabric.

Pin the lining for this pattern piece to the back of the zipper (right side against the zipper) so that the zipper is sandwiched between the two pieces of fabric. Sew as closely as possible to the zipper.

Attach the smaller of the Split Middle Panel to the other side of the zipper. Follow the same steps as before. Sew as closely as possible to the zipper.

The right and the wrong sides of the outer pocket with the zipper attached.

Follow the same steps for the inner pockets. This time all of the fabric used is cut from the lining. Sandwich the zipper between the two larger pieces that form the bottom of the pocket and sew.

Now sandwich the other side of the zipper between the two smaller pattern pieces that make up the top of the pocket. Sew close to the zipper.

Iron both pockets flat when done.

In the next blog we attach the pockets and construct the side panels.
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