This article is a detailed review of Design Your Own Handbag, a Craftsy course created by Brett Bara.
Lesson 1: Introduction
As with most Craftsy classes, the first lesson is about the author. In this case, Brett Bara tells us of her history and how she got started sewing in her early 20’s when she started sewing handbags for fun at school. Before long she had people making orders for bags, and a business began.
Lesson 2: Planning Your Design
This lesson covers how to change a handbag design by manipulating:
- color, and
- other details such as handles.
Brett really impresses upon the need to test your fabric by sewing scraps together, seeing how top-stitching looks and how the fabrics blend. Having a solid understanding of how the fabric stabilises and appears with different types of stitches will really provide a solid finish.
Lesson 3: Reinforce Your Fabric
If you are familiar with your interfacing types, such as an intermediate sewer would be, you can probably skip right past this lesson.
Brett discusses different interfacing options:
- Woven and non-woven interfacing, explaining which type should be used when and why.
- Fusible and non-fusible interfacings.
- Lightweight and heavyweight interfacings.
- Inter-weighting fabric, which is when you line one fabric with another to give it a bit more weight or stability. Brett uses an interlining of canvas quite regularly in her projects.
In the second part of the lesson Brett provides examples of how the different interfacings and linings can make the fabric behave in different ways.
Lastly she explains, with examples, what type of interfacing she used and why; this is helpful for beginners to understand the reasoning behind each sample, especially if they can’t afford to purchase a number of interfacings to sample.
Lesson 4: Constructing Basic Exterior
This lesson covers:
- How to sew the boxed corners of your handbag,
- How to add a hard bottom to your handbag, and
- How to add metal (or plastic) handbag feet.
Lesson 5: Constructing the Basic Lining
The lining in essence is the same steps at the exterior.
This lesson covers multiple topics:
- How to sew your lining,
- How to sew the top pieces together, and
- Flipping the bag right side out.
Lesson 6: Pockets
Pockets are not only functional, but can provide a decorative feature to your handbags.
Brett covers what materials you will need when making the pockets. She discusses placement and the maximum pocket size to avoid undesirable results; such as accidentally curling under the bottom of the bag.
Firstly Brett shows you how to measure and install a zipper pocket, including the lining. Then she demonstrates a flap pocket; the drafting and construction stages.
Lesson 7: Handles and Straps
To make your handles successful, you need to consider what weight of material to use; too heavy and it will end up being bulky and difficult to sew, whilst too light will cause it to be too flimsy for regular use.
Brett covers a few tips in regards to the length of the strap and whether to cut the fabric on bias or grain. She then shows you how to prepare your handles for sewing, including a handy tip on how to hide any raw edges without extra bulk.
The types of straps and attachments that are taught in this lesson are:
- The basic fabric strap,
- The fabric-covered cord, and
- Oversized grommets.
Finally Brett covers how to make fabric tabs to attach your handles to your bag.
Lesson 8: Zippers
This lesson will look at two types of zippers:
- The recessed zipper, and
- The top zipper.
For each step of zipper Brett covers how to construct the zipper and how to install it into your handbag to get a professional finish.
Lesson 9: Closures and Hardware
No handbag is complete without the necessary hardware; things such as magnetic snaps, twist locks, studs, D rings and bag feet.
Chances are that if you are making your first ever handbag, you may have not used and installed hardware before. Not to worry, Brett covers in detail each step you need to take in order to get professional results.
Personally I would place the backs of twist locks inside of fabric layers rather than on the top like Brett did in her demonstration, but the point is to learn how install the hardware.
Lesson 10: Shape Variations
This lesson includes a summary of steps required to construct the bag, as well as discussing the importance of making sketches and muslin-test bags.
Brett covers two basic shape variations:
- A pleated version, and
- A curved top section.
Brett is an excellent teacher that clearly covers the foundational knowledge anyone interested in pattern manipulation for accessories will need to know.
Brett has chosen to teach the fundamentals of bag making in the first few lessons; you cannot follow the lessons in order when making your own bag.
I feel like this class has a mixed audience and somehow fails to cover all the necessary information. For example, Design Your Own Handbag has steps in it such as joining the exterior bag and lining that a beginner sewer should already know (such as turning right side out), but skips important steps on how to draft basic patterns (and the maths involved).
Brett Bara’s class Design Your Own Handbag really covers the core knowledge that you will need in order to create handbags. The very name of the class Design Your Own Handbag suggested to me an inclusion of more drafting steps, such as the vast number of basic handbag shapes. Unfortunately only two or three basic shapes were included as pre-drafted patterns. I feel like this class is more focused on manipulating the supplied pattern pieces than drafting one’s own handbag styles, allowing you to create essentially handbags like a tote and a hobo bag.
Having said that, Brett excellently covers topics such as hardware in a very clear and precise way that allows you to know how to apply such hardware to your own designs.
Design Your Own Handbag is ideal if you are interested in learning the basics of accessory design (such as adding basic pockets to an exterior of the bag) and are not familiar with hardware, however if you are fairly familiar with these aspects then it may not be suitable to you.