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Bagmaking Tips and Tricks from our Designers!

Have you fallen in love with the art of Bagmaking? No matter where you are in your Bagmaking journey, there are always new tricks waiting to be learned that will elevate your skills! Our team of Bag Designers wanted to share a few tips and tricks that we have learned over the years that helped grow not only our skill level, but confidence as well!

Our first tip may seem too obvious to be considered a "tip", however, we know from personal experience that it is worth pointing toward being sure you read through a pattern prior to beginning your project. In the first few pages you will find your seam allowances, recommended fabrics, and notes from the designer. If you are sewing a pattern where the seam allowances change, which happens often, it is helpful to know what your base seam allowance is, and this is often at the top of the tutorial that we sometimes overlook in our excitement to sew.

Now, whether you are working on one pattern at a time, or several, bagmaking includes many, many pieces. Those pieces include the pattern pieces themselves, interfacing & stabilizers, hardware, and more. Every person will find a system that works best for them, but we have found that keeping all pieces together in bins or gallon-sized bags works extremely well! Work through the pieces and hardware in your bin piece by piece until the project is complete! (I personally like to save those hardware and mesh bags the shops send to hold my smaller pieces!) TSM patterns feature cut labels (found within the tutorial) which help us tremendously with keeping pieces organized and ensuring we have what we need right from the start.

Another great way to both organize, and become familiar with fabric combos is to use a project planner sheet. TSM offers a free one in our Facebook group files, and I know this has been a wonderful tool for myself! Our designer, Alex Soelke, keeps her project planner sheets in a three-ring binder to reference later on. This is a wonderful way to reference back to what you found worked well, and maybe what you would change on a future project!

As we get into the sewing process, one of the key problems that can cause us to fumble is bulk. If you are someone early in your bagmaking journey, it is important to learn how to beware of the bulk! There are several factors that go into creating bulk, but becoming familiar with different fabric bases, interfacings and stabilizers, and what your machine can handle is invaluable. A great way to become familiar with different fabric combinations before sewing is to check our Tester Round-Ups! The Exterior fabric, Interior fabric, and hardware a tester used is listed alongside their tester-bag photos.

What are a couple easy ways to combat bulk? One is to keep interfacing and stabilizers out of our seam allowances. Our designer, Danielle Allen, draws the seam allowance lines directly onto the wrong side of her fabric before adhering her stabilizer to ensure no stabilizer will be caught once she begins sewing.

Using a walking-foot is another way to combat bulk. Our designer, Sierra Wohlers, noted that a walking-foot is invaluable when you have thick seams or what your machine considers a "sticky fabric". It is also helpful when approaching a thicker area to slow your machine down, and sometimes even hand-crank through a section. The extra time taken to hand-crank will be well worth the effort when finishing with a clean seam line!

Are you sewing a pattern with zippers and zipper windows? We've got a couple tips to get those windows as clean as possible!

  • Before edge coating your vinyl zipper window, quickly pass a lighter over the back (wrong side) of your vinyl to remove fuzz. This is a quick way to clean up those edges, then you can dive into painting!

  • Have you experienced adding a zipper to a window and at the end of sewing you notice the teeth at one end are not together? An easy fix is after you have added the zipper pull, simply press the teeth back together in front of the pull. Admittedly, this takes a little bit of practice, but once you get the hang of finger pressing the teeth together, it is a quick trick and leaves you with a perfect zipper in your window!

  • Have you ever had a zipper window where the stitching didn't catch at the corner, and you ended up with a curved topstitch instead of that straight point you had planned? As you approach the edge of your window, stop your needle. pivot your fabric as if going right into that next line, but before moving forward slowly hand-crank your machine to ensure the bobbin thread catches. Some have found that lifting the presser foot helps this, personally on my machine I leave the presser foot down, but still hand-crank and can see and feel that bobbin thread catch. Then continue to sew as normal until the next pivot point. (This technique is also helpful on design elements needing to be topstitched that have sharp pivot points)

  • If you like the look of zipper windows that do not have a backstitching line, we have an easy fix for that! Before you begin topstitching your zipper in place, ensure the tails of your thread are long and DO NOT backstitch as you begin. Sew around the window. Once you reach the end DO NOT backstitch again. Instead, leave the tail of the thread long at the ends. Use a thin hand sewing needle, and pull the threads through to the back. Tie off the threads with a double knot to secure. For extra security, you could use a drop of super glue on the double knot. Finish sewing your pocket as instructed.