Recently Patricia and I were working on a project for the American Sewing Guild (ASG) highlighting The Cici Tote Bag and The Cici Too Cosmetic Bag. As I searched through the archives of blog posts for some photos of combinations that testers had made, I realized just how much the two patterns have been mentioned and how "beginner perfect" they truly are.
Combo by Zeiba Monod of Sew Special by ZM
When I first made a bag, I waded in with no knowledge of bagmaking. Garment making, quilting, and home decor sewing did not prepare me for the new terminology, fabrics and stabilizers, or techniques. And I was totally new to PDF patterns and assembling them.
A good place to start is with Beginning Bagmaking Without Tears*. If you're comfortable with a sewing machine and the necessary tools, then you should be ready to get started. Note that many of the pictures featured below are by Facebook Pattern Group members and was their first bag.
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Let's take a look at The Cici Too Cosmetic Bag.
Cici Too Cosmetic Bag by Sandie Gallagher
Basically, with this pattern you're dipping your toe into the bag-making pool. Things you'll learn:
- Downloading, printing and following a PDF bag pattern*
- Getting familiar with bagmaking terminology and techniques*
- Applying interfacing*
- Using vinyl, faux leather, or cork*
- Applying an overlay and top-stitching*
- Inserting a zipper with tab ends and top-stitching*
- Sewing a slip pocket*
- Adding a lining
- Boxing corners
- And "birthing" your bag
- Pressing for a beautiful finish*
And in about 90 minutes (with your first go round) you've got a finished bag!
Combo in canvas and cork by Josette Skilling
The Cici Tote Bag is then a natural step up to practice the skills you learned with the cosmetic bag. You're working on a larger scale and you'll add a few new skills. In addition to those listed above, you'll be:
- Attaching a bottom to the overlays
- Adding purse feet
- Adding a recessed zipper*
- Adding a zipper pocket to the lining*
- Making a divided slip pocket*
- Making two types of strap connectors and adding hardware.
- Making a shoulder strap*
- Making an adjustable strap and adding the appropriate hardware*
In Harris Tweed by Karen Shaver
Both patterns have clear instructions and photos of each step. The additional tutorials and articles have details and techniques along with photos. And for those of you that are really visual learners and like to see someone actually making a bag, SiahSwag has a video sew-along* in our library.
Beautiful fabric combo by Mary Lynn Curatolo Marcolina
After you've mastered both patterns, take it up a notch. We have a PDF add-on* for a variety of exterior and interior pockets and a key holder for The Cici Tote Bag.
Cici Tote Bag pocket modifications by Lisa Stewart
With these add-ons, you can enhance the classic style of the bag, or make a more casual version as a beach bag*, picnic bag, or diaper bag*.
Cici Tote Bag by Patricia Maxey
Some makers have even used it for a child's overnight bag, with the accompanying cosmetic bag for toothbrushes, etc. And we have seen the tote bag made with foam to use as a laptop bag. The shoulder straps could be shortened to handles.
Now, take a look at all the tutorials and articles that can help you finesse your first attempt at bagmaking. And if you're still stumped, email Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org - or join the Facebook Pattern Group (see the details at the end).
Tools and Techniques:
Fabric and Hardware:
Skill Building and Add-ons
Katie Hansen's all vinyl beauty
Whether you are a beginner or an expert bag maker, we'd love to have you join our Facebook Pattern Group. Ask questions, give guidance and encouragement, share your makes, and join in the conversation.