A Chanel Bag and Some Bag Making Tips

Can you say love at first stitch? I really really like this little bag. It is the simple result of two non usable pockets and the tiniest bit of leftover expensive boucle. Add a bit of paisley embossed faux leather and I think it is just rather snarky!
I also couldn't resist taking the pics outside on such a beautiful day. It is about 20ยบ and the winds are wicked. I had to hold the top of the bag still to get most of  the pics.
The lining is Kasha, leftover from a coat project. It has a fused backing and does not ravel so I didn't double the pocket as I usually do. The pocket has darts at the bottom for depth.

I often bypass the pattern directions when making a bag. This was  no exception. I will show you a few things I do when I make bags that aren't in the directions!This pattern is Butterick 4409.
Whenever a pattern requires that a gusset be sewn all around the sides I break it down into sections. First I stitch the left and right seams, just going from dot to dot. I then clip the corner and do the bottom seams. Then I stitch across the last seam minus any curves. I save the curves for the end. On the curves I clip, clip, clip and they are then uber pinned and off to the machine. I find by working in sections like this I have a lot more control. It is so much easier to handle the curves when all of the other pins and wandering fabric are out of the way. You can also see a couple of other things I do in this picture. The area with the bull clips is controlled by , well, bull clips. This is where the faux leather straps are and I don't want to mark them with a pin. You can also see that I fused fusible fleece to all of the boucle and then topped with a smaller piece of Decor Bond craft fusible. I use this technique with nearly all of my bags. I don't like to bring the Decor Bond to the edges due to bulk but I find it makes the bag have a lot more structure, something missing from a lot of bag patterns. Without that structure the bag will quickly "limp out" and get the luvin' feeling and look way before it's time.  The faux leather is interfaced with hair canvas. I find this is the best way to treat this very sensitive fabric and am blessed to have inherited massive amounts of hair canvas from my dear friend Ima. It' is not the cheapest thing to buy but what a job it does!

Another trick is to use a wooden spoon to iron open the seams. Bag seams can be really tricky to get to and my seam rolls and board don't always do the trick. A wooden spoon to the rescue!
 One of the most important steps in bag making, IMO, is securing the lining to the shell. If you don't you will have lining fabric drifting aimlessly around the inside of your bag, not very professional.  So after the bag is complete, lining installed, I go and ditch stitch between the lining seams and the shell seams. I don't do every seam. It depends on the style. In this bag I did the gusset seams on top, what you see in the picture, focusing on those curved corners. I find in regular totes I ditch stitch the side seams to control the lining. This is done with a doubled waxed thread and a tiny back stitch. It is not necessary to go into the seam of the outer shell. Just pick up the seam allowances of the shell and you will be secure. You kind of get a feeling for this after a few stitches. When properly done, it is invisible.

And last but not least, DO ALL YOU WORK WITH THE ZIPPER OPEN! Don't ask why I recommend this. Let's just say I had to crawl out of a bag with no opening! 
The Chanel bag is done and I am really pleased. I do think it is the last gasp of Ole Man Winter, however. The next bag, which just needs ditch stitching, is Spring itself and I can't wait to show you....Oh, suffice it to say, I will definitely not being using the Chanel bag the same time I wear the Chanel jacket, just toooooo much.......Bunny


  1. Bunny, this bag is drop dead gorgeous. I really value all the tips and tricks you share with us. There are so many things that people don't think about till they get into a project and you really save people from a lot of those issues.

  2. Great bag!

    I'm currently (and SLOWLY) making a self-drafted purse to be sewn from cammies and your hints are timely. Trying to figure out construction and interfacing has been tedious but I think I've finally got it now.

  3. That's a lovely bag. Different. I like a structured bag. Great idea about using the wooden spoon handle. There will be one coming from my kitchen drawer into the sewing room now. I wonder if you've made the Weekender bag by Amy Butler? I so want to make that and a matching companion, the Sophia.

  4. This is my first visit here at your blog and I'm amazed at all of your fine detailing...something I want to work toward. Consider yourself bookmarked! :)

  5. Your projects are absolutely breathtaking. Looking at them has inspired me to dust off my machine and jump back in with attempting some of my own projects.

  6. Love this little bag and thanks for all the tips! A girl can never have too many bags, right?

  7. Thanks for the bag sewing tips. Now and then I sew a bag, and I usually run into trouble because they are stiff and unwieldy. Your bag looks great. A sunny makes Spring seem closer, and frankly it is Spring now! Surely the snow is about to go.

  8. Your bag is beautifully constructed. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I am currently working on a bag, Vogue 8642, and can use the advise.

  9. What fun! And lovely, lovely work. Thanks for the tips. my first bags got that lovin' feeling way too early. I hoping for a better result now!

  10. Oh, very nice and such a good use of the boucle.

  11. Thanks for the comment at SewChic. This is my first visit to your blog...love it...I'll be back. I see we chose the same fabric for one bag--the green leaf home decor print from JoAnn's. :)


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