Printed book and eBook of Bag Making Techniques for Beginners & Beyond is now released!

Bag Making Techniques for Beginners & Beyond Kindle Book Cover

So excited to let you know that the printed copy and the eBook version of my new book, Bag Making Techniques for Beginners & Beyond has now been published! They are available to order on Amazon, worldwide! Whoop, whoop!

I hope you will all help me to spread the word about my independently published book, no big publishing houses here, just me! Thank you for your support and happy sewing!

Get the printed book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1798530066

Get the eBook copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07P8ZZQLR

Make the best bags with the help of my new bag-making book!

It’s only a few weeks until my new bag making book, Bag Making Techniques for Beginners and Beyond, is released on Amazon! It will be available as an eBook, for pre-order now, and as a printed book which can be ordered from the release date of 26th March 2019. So exciting!

So what’s in this new book and what makes it so different to all the other fab bag making books out there? Well, rather than being a book of ready-to-make projects, it’s a comprehensive guide on how to design and make you own bags, adding a variety of elements as you go along. I’ve aimed this book at anyone wishing to confidently adapt a bag-making pattern, to suit their own needs, or anybody who’d like to start realising their own creative ideas.

I begin with lots of advice on fabrics, tools and using stabilisers.

For anyone who’s never made a bag before, I’ve included a starter project for making a fully lined tote bag, so that you can get an initial understanding of simple bag construction.

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I then take you through an abundance of techniques, know-how and tips on making more complex bags. You’ll learn how to make and add a variety of pockets, handles, closures, bases, bag frames and how to install bag hardware.

I’ve covered a range of basic techniques, through to the more advanced methods, so you’ll be able to take your bag making to a level you can be truly proud of!

Pre-order your copy of Bag Making Techniques for Beginners and Beyond, on Amazon today, and be one of the first to get making the best bags ever!

Happy sewing! x

New eBook! Bag Making Techniques for Beginners & Beyond!

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I’m so excited to announce my new eBook, available for pre-order now on Amazon! Bag Making Techniques for Beginners & Beyond is a comprehensive new sewing guide to get you designing and creating the best bags ever!

There are so many different styles of bags; the possibilities of creating a unique accessory are endless. The techniques I’ve covered in this new book will arm you with the knowledge to adapt ready-made patterns and to design your own bags from scratch!

The book begins with lots of helpful advice on choosing fabrics, how to use stabilisers and which tools to use; the basic elements for making the best bags. If you’ve never made a bag before, start off by making the lined tote bag project. You’ll then be able to work your way through the technique sections, learning about different construction methods and how to make more complex bags, by adding a range of bases, pockets, zips, handles, flaps, hardware and so on.

I’ve included a whole range of techniques, tips and know-how, which will enable you to make fabulous bag designs you can be truly proud of!

Pre-order your copy now, for release date 26th March 2019!

Bag Making Techniques by Susan Dunlop

New SusieDDesigns Sewing Pattern! ABC Baby Nappy Bag

Another new sewing pattern that I’ve just released and added to my Etsy shop is the brand new ABC Diaper Bag Pattern (baby changing bag). This was so much fun to make! It’s a big, roomy bag with a full zipper closure and lots of pockets.

ABC Diaper Bag Pattern by SusieDDesigns 1

This nappy bag pattern will help you to make a substantial bag which is double interfaced for strength, durability and stability, so it’s not floppy. The interior pockets are elasticated to keep things in place and it also has four exterior pockets too. So you’ll be able to carry all the bits and bobs you need to for baby or toddler!

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I’ve placed this pattern as suitable for advanced sewers, as it’s got lots of pieces and lots of techniques to do as you go along. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure! However, it’s a project that you’ll just love getting your teeth into and, if you’re a confident intermediate sewer, by all means give it a go. I’ve ensured that I’ve included lots of helpful advice, instructions and full-colour images so that you’ll be able to make a bag to be really proud of!

Hope you like! Happy Sewing!

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Get the new ABC Diaper Bag Sewing Pattern here

New SusieDDesigns Sewing Pattern! Smart Phone Sleeve x 3 Sizes

I’ve been busy creating some new sewing patterns which are available in my Etsy shop now! (15% off this week too!!).

So the first up is a newly updated version of my popular Smart Phone / iPod Sleeve sewing pattern. It’s been totally revamped and now includes 3 sizes of pouch to suit most modern smart phones. Have a look at the new Smart Phone Sleeves Sewing Pattern x 3 sizes in my Etsy shop!

The original design was for gadgets up to 3” x 4.5” in size but, of course, phones are so much bigger now aren’t they? So the new pattern set includes that size, as well as two larger sizes for gadgets up to 3” x 5.75” and 3” x 6.5”. I’ve made some new samples of the pouches too! Hope you like them and I hope you have a chance to try out the new pattern. Happy Sewing! x

New Smart Phone Cases 5

For more information see the new Smart Phone Sleeves x 3 Sizes Sewing Pattern

New Sewing Pattern Release: Tri-fold Wallet with zippered coins pocket

Following on from my original Tri-fold Wallet sewing pattern, I’m excited to bring you an updated version of it! The new pattern includes an optional zippered coins pocket, as well as having sections for bank cards, cash and coupons or notepad. It closes with a wide Velcro tab. This wallet pattern is suitable for intermediate sewers, but it has really easy-to-follow instructions with lots of colour images, to help you at each step.

The pattern is available for instant download and it includes a complete set of full-size pattern templates, as well as all the cutting measurements if you prefer to use a rotary cutter and ruler.

For further details, check out the new Wallet Sewing Pattern in my Etsy shop.

Below are some of my customers’ handmade wallets which they made from the original Tri-fold Wallet pattern. This wallet is very similar in style (not including the coins pocket) and it has two types of closure tab – Velcro or press fastener.

Customer Make - The Tri-fold Wallet sewing pattern by SusieDDesigns

Bagmaking Tips – how to make better bags!

Making bags and accessories is such a fun, rewarding thing to do! Not only do you get to pick out gorgeous fabrics but you also get to make something that’s looks good and is practical too! However, if the finish of your bags isn’t quite what you’d hoped for and you’d rather stick it away in the wardrobe, than show it off, read on for some simple tips. You’ll be making the best bags ever, before you know it!

Press as you go: Never skimp on pressing fabrics before using them and keep pressing each part, as you sew, to set in the stitches and give a neat, crisp finish. Also ensure you neatly press any folds or pleats, during construction. Always you a clean pressing cloth to avoid shiny marks or dirty residue off the iron.

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Cut accurately: it goes without saying that if you’re squares and rectangles are all wonky then you’ll not be able to achieve a good finish. If you find it difficult, or you just want to save time, invest in a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and cutting mat! You won’t regret it and they’re well worth the cost!

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Interfacing: Although it takes up extra time and patience, it’s so important to use suitable stabilisers when making bags. Stabilisers are the hidden layers between the outer and lining fabrics, which offer structure, stability and enduring strength. They come in different weights, thickness, softness, fusible or sew-in; interfacing, interlining or fleece options. Remember to use good quality stabilisers, they really are worth the extra money. I use Vilene products which are readily available in the UK and Europe and I also like the USA Pellon brand which is an equally fantastic product. This is available from most good fabric/sewing stockists across America as well as being available from some sellers in the UK too.

Vilene Interfacing and Fleece for bag-making

Machine baste: I always use the machine’s longest stitch length to baste within the seam allowance. It’s faster than hand-basting, doesn’t need removing and strengthens the seams as well. So if you have a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance, baste approx. 5mm (1/4”) from the edges. Once you’ve machine-basted pieces in place, the pins can then be removed which makes sewing up a project so much less fiddly and it saves time, rather than doing it all by hand.

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Double-sided basting tape: make inserting zips a breeze and achieve a professional looking finish by using basting tape. This is an amazing invention! You just need to attach the tape along the edges of a zip and this will hold the zip in place while you sew, instead of using pins or having to hand-baste! It can be sewn through, without leaving a sticky residue on the needle, and there’s no pins to try avoid sewing over! Win, win!

Pins versus sewing clips: when the layers you’re sewing together are getting too thick for pins, the best thing to use instead are sewing clips; the type which are normally used by quilters. They are essentially like mini bull-dog clips but they are made with flat, wide clip parts so as to hold layers of fabric securely without leaving marks or indentations. They’re fantastic when you’re sewing together layers of fabric, lining, interfacing and fleece and you just carefully remove each one as you sew up to it.

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So there you have it, some easy-to-follow tips for making your bagmaking projects more enjoyable to make and more pleasing to finish. I hope you find these tips useful. If you’d like to have a go at making any of my bags and accessories, head on over to my Etsy shop SusieDDesigns Sewing Patterns and start planning your next project!

Happy Sewing! 🙂

New Sewing Projects! Witch Hazel Halloween Pattern Collection

New! The fun, co-ordinating Witch Hazel Halloween Sewing Pattern Collection includes three easy-to-make sewing projects, perfect for beginners and beyond, which you can stitch up for the kids, just in time for Halloween. There are spooky-themed, fabric party bags, a trick-or-treat tote bag and a quilted table-topper mat that can be used year after year!

Halloween Party Set 1

You could use any Halloween themed fabric you like or even try solid fabrics, in oranges, greens and black! I used these fabulously spooky designs from the Witch Hazel collection, by October Afternoon, for Riley Blake Designs.

This collection is a great introduction to bag-making, patchwork and quilting. I’ve designed the projects so that they are easy to follow, with plenty of full-colour images to guide you from start to finish.

If you’d like to make these fun accessories, the pattern collection is available in my Etsy shop: The Witch Hazel Party Collection

New Bag Making Sewing Pattern: The Wiltshire Handbag!

Don’t you just love Liberty of London fabrics? I used the gorgeous Wiltshire L Tana Lawn to make this evening bag design – the Wiltshire Handbag.

The fabric is soft and silky and lends itself very well to making a special bag for events and evenings out. The lilac and blue version is my favourite but it also comes in red and lilac on a white background, which would work just as well. The use of woven cotton interfacing and cotton lining, makes this bag strong and sturdy whilst retaining the soft handle of the cotton lawn.

I used some good quality purse hardware to compliment this bag; silver D-rings, swivel snaps and a nice round twist/turn lock for the flap closure. These are availabe from most good bagmaking supplies stores. So, if you’d like to get on with making this luxurious bag, visit my Etsy shop to download the Wiltshire Handbag sewing pattern.

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New! Summer Beach Bag Sewing Pattern

My latest sewing pattern release is this snazzy Summer Beach Bag, ideal for all those hot summer days or even all year round, as it’s sure to brighten up a dull day! The fabrics I used to make this bag are Lucy’s Crab Shack by Sweetwater for Moda Fabrics.

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Make this large tote bag in fun fabrics and hit the beach in style. It’s big enough to carry all the essentials and it has a useful interior pocket to keep a few things separate. You could also take this bag on holiday; pack it flat in your suitcase and use it when you’re on the beach or out and about exploring.

The Summer Beach Bag sewing pattern includes easy-to-follow instructions with lots of colour images and a full set of printable pattern template pieces. If you’d like to make this bag, the sewing pattern is available in my Etsy shop now. Happy Sewing!

New Bag Making Pattern Sewing – September Blue Hobo Handbag

As promised, I have the first of some new bag-making sewing patterns ready! Introducing the September Blue Hobo Handbag sewing pattern:

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I used a fat quarter bundle to make this modern hobo-style handbag. The use of pieced panels allows you to show off coordinating prints at their best. For a professional finish, I added a twist/turn lock for the closure. I used some gorgeous fabrics from Dashwood Studio, called September Blue by Susan Driscoll.

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This sewing pattern is suitable for intermediate sewers but could be tackled by confident beginners who have made a bag or two already and feel ready to take on a more challenging make. It includes easy to follow step-by-step instructions, with plenty of colour images throughout, and full-size pattern pieces are provided for you to download and print at home. If you’d like to give this bag a go, you’ll find the sewing pattern in my Etsy shop here. Happy sewing!

White Tree Fabrics – Jersey Fabric and Simple Sew 007 – Part 2

For my next top, made with the lovely jersey fabrics supplied by White Tree Fabrics, I did a bit of pattern hacking with the gorgeous Bella Dress pattern. This was a free pattern with a Love Sewing magazine issue, from Simple Sew patterns. I’ve been wanting to make the Bella Dress for ages but as I hardly ever wear dresses, I thought it would be great as a top. The blue-grey warm jersey from White Tree was the perfect fabric to use.

9070-11-3 Warm Jersey

The Bella Dress is a lovely flattering shape, which comes in at the waist and has back darts which give a wonderful shape. The sleeves are fluted which again gives a really nice shape and the neckline is a slouchy roll neck. I decided to trim the pattern just below the hips to make a long top and I straightened off the curve which goes over the hip, so that the top didn’t pull in at the bottom. I also made the next size up to what I would normally choose for this pattern as it’s a nice figure hugging dress and I wanted it to be a loose-fitting top.

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Making a top from the Bella Dress – free pattern giveaway from Love Sewing magazine

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Some tips on sewing with jersey fabrics: use a ball point or jersey needle in your sewing machine. Use a polyester (all-purpose) sewing thread, which has a little stretch and won’t break easily like cotton thread would. Remember to use a stretch-stitch and use an over-locking stitch to finish all the raw edges. I used my over-locker for the raw edges and main seams and I used my sewing machine for hemming. Don’t stretch the fabric as you sew it, unless your pattern specifically tells you to do so. Just gently guide it and let the feed dogs move it through.

If you want to try using this super-soft, two-way stretch, warm jersey fabric, visit White Tree Fabrics and save some money by using this exclusive discount code which White Tree have very kindly offered my readers: SUSIED

Owl Shoulder Bag – Custom Order

I love this bag, handmade by Denise Hayes, over at Through the Looking Glass. Denise used one of my sewing patterns to make this fab bag, with some great adaptions. Great work, Denise and thanks for sharing!

Front of Owl Bag

Through The Looking Glass

Sometimes I get orders for new items. I don’t usually make bags, but offered to make one for a local lady who already had the fabric. She dropped off the fabric for me and I prepped it.

Owl Fabric Owl Fabric

It was an owl fabric – very cute. However, it was a ‘seconds’ fabric which means that there was something wrong with it. The fabric itself was warped (not straight) and it was cut badly. The owls had also not been printed evenly. After washing, air-drying, ironing and pulling on the corners, it was as straight as it was going to be. If I went by the weave, the owls would look drunk. If I went with the owls I had to decide for vertical or horizontal. I went with the vertical.

Front of Owl Bag Front of Owl Bag

I also decided to patchwork it with some other fabrics I already had to help…

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Quilting Tutorial: Cathedral Windows Part 2 – Making the Windows

This is the 2nd part of my Cathedral Windows Tutorial. See the previous post for Part 1. In this post, I’ve completed the background panels and now I’m going to add the print fabrics and make the windows.

Cut 3” squares from your chosen fabrics. I used a load of different Liberty fabric scraps so that all my windows would have a different fabric but they’d still go together.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 16With a square wrong side up, hold two of the corners down with your thumb and index finger and press over the just the centre of the edge by approx. 1/4”. Be careful the hot iron doesn’t burn those fingers!

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 17Repeat with all the edges and then do the same with all your fabric squares.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 18Place the fabric squares, right side up, on top of each diamond shape of the prepared background panel as shown. Here I’m adding them to a small single row panel. Later on you’ll see my larger panel version too. Pin them to secure in place.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 19Fold each free edge of the background panel over each each of the square. A natural curve will be created due to the points of the background panel being stitched together (see previous post, Part 1). Pin through all the layers to hold firmly in place and ensure that the window is completely filled with the print fabric. Gently tuck the print fabric into the corners, if it’s not sitting right into them.

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 20Repeat the folding/pinning process to make all the windows. This is when it starts to get exciting as you see the gorgeous windows forming!

Cathedral Windows Tutorial 21I decided to go one step further and cut small petal shaped pieces of the print fabrics to fill the gaps now formed in each corner of my panel. Aren’t I the show off! The thing is, once you get started on this technique, you don’t really want to stop.

Cathedral Windows technique 22Now it’s time to topstitch along the edges of all the folded over edges. I decided to do double rows around each corner petal shape and single rows around all the diamond shaped windows. Put your machine on a longish stitch, as there’s lots of layers and the stitches also look better when they’re longer. Carefully stitch all the edges, removing each pin as you get to it. When you get to the edge of each fold just continue stitching over to the next one, so you don’t have to continually keep stopping and starting and new line of stitch. Just try to keep the stitching as neat as you can, as you work your way around each one.

Cathedral Windows technique

Cathedral Windows technique 2

Cathedral Windows Tutorial Part 1

Now to decide what I’m going to use these panels for. I think they’ll be great made up into cushions with co-ordinating panels. What do you think? Have you made Cathedral Windows before or will you be having a go at making them for the first time?