The March program was presented by our very own “Bag Lady,” Ellen Sakornbut. (Her words, not mine 😊) She enjoys making bags because they are very functional, and everyone likes and needs bags. In addition, making a bag can fulfill one’s artistic impulse. Ellen claims not to be an expert, but after seeing her work many of us might disagree. She has learned a lot through experience and making mistakes.
When making a bag we need to ask, “What question is this bag an answer to?” Do I want something to carry and protect my spinning wheel, rigid heddle loom, or smart phone? Do I need to have my hands free? Do I want to make a certain impression? Do I want a duffel, backpack, clutch, lunch box, or market bag?
Next we choose a technique to use. Bags can be knitted and felted, woven, crocheted, nuno felted, or sewn. We can upcycle materials we have on hand such as men’s suits, plastic bags, bailing twine, burlap bags, or denim jeans. We can purchase sturdy upholstery fabric or Pendleton blanket ends.
The form the bag takes is dictated by the its function. Things to think about include:
- should it close on top?
- how about adding a pocket?
- zip or no zip?
- cross body, shoulder, or adjustable strap?
- what size?
- structured or unstructured?
Most bags need handles, and Ellen shared her thoughts on various choices. Leather handles can be costly, but they may be worth it. They are sturdy and wear well. Wooden handles look nice but can get banged up. A bag frame with attached handles provides another option. You could weave your own handle on an inkle loom. Keep an open mind about what might make a good handle. The eye-catching handles on this bag are drapery tiebacks.
One helpful hint Ellen wanted everyone to leave with was how to make a box corner on the bottom of your bag so it is flat.
Click here for a tutorial from the Creative Cloth blog on making box corners.
Here are other great ideas from Ellen:
- Keep in mind a larger bag means you can carry more things. How heavy do you really want your filled bag to be?
- Look to the internet for inspiration. Ellen likes to search Etsy and Facebook groups for nuno felting ideas.
- You can create more space in your bag by adding pockets, pleats, and gathers.
- Padding and fusable fleece may be used to add structure to your bag.
- Choose a lining that is dense and durable. Good choices include cotton, satin, and silk.
- Zippers for a top closure should be chunky. Avoid problems by sewing a bit of fabric at each end.
- When using bulky fabric, zigzag pocket edges.
- Flat-felled seams give more strength.
- Use selvedge edges for seams when possible.
- Purse feet, magnetic closures, grommets, rings, and clasps are also available for purchase to complete your bag.
Our thanks go out to Ellen for giving us ideas for more ways upcycle rather than throw away and to utilize our handspun yarns and handwoven fabric.