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Making the bag – a look behind the scenes!

This is a post I’ve wanted to share for a while now but have never quite managed to take enough pictures as I worked- it’s the ‘How its made’ post!  I love getting a little peek behind the workshop curtains of other designers, makers and artists so I hope you will find it interesting to discover how I go about making a bag from idea to finished piece.  

It starts with a quick sketch and a mock-up in fabric or paper to get an idea of scale and shape.  I decide on fabric, (these must be free from synthetic fibres such as polyester) colours and prints then draw out a carefully measured pattern.  This is the most complicated part where all the pieces must be made to fit together and it can take a few hours but is a once off job for each bag design.  Then I cut the outer and lining fabric to size and print with one of my patterns; this one is getting the gold ‘Sun’ print.

While the prints are drying I gather up all the pieces, sew straps, add buckles, pockets and my Grey Whale tag.  These are hand printed too so I try to keep a stash ready to go.

Then the fun part of piecing it all together after the printed fabric is set and all 16 parts (in this case) are ready to go!  I get really impatient at this point to see how it looks even if it’s a bag I’ve made a hundred times.  It’s all sewn inside out with the lining on one end and the outer part on the other and joined in the middle so it looks really chaotic and like a tangled heap of fabric and thread but then comes the magic moment where it gets flipped right side out and the finished piece is revealed!  Then little threads are tidied up, the last gap is sewn and I add my hang tag and a little care card.  Last but not least the bag is carefully wrapped in tissue and brown paper and tied up with string- I love the thought that someone will feel like they are getting something really special so the brief ceremony of unwrapping is all important as it is the first impression people will get.  I don’t use any plastic (except for some tape) or bubble wrap so the paper layers add protection during transit.

Start to finish it is a pretty time consuming process as I do everything myself but each completed piece is special, the antithesis of mass production and throw away consumerism.  I hope my bags will last well for many years to come and make someone feel happy each time they use it.