My first book, Sew Bags: The Practical Guide to Making Purses, Totes, Clutches & More; 13 Skill-Building Projects has just been published and is arriving in stores, homes, and hands right now! When people hear that I’ve written a book, they often ask how it’s done. To write a coherent book, with patterns and instruction plus detailed how-tos, it is helpful to start at the beginning.
I am Hilarie Wakefield Dayton, and I love all things fashion and sewing. As a child of three or four, I began to learn to sew and never put it down. Clothes, toys, gifts, home decor, swimwear, bridal—you name it, I have made it. Fast forward a few decades, and I opened Little Stitch Studio in Norfolk, Virginia, where I teach sewing and fashion design to kids, teens, and adults. The original book idea that I proposed was not a book on making and designing purses, but a sewing book for kids. However, when I pitched it to Roxane Cerda, Acquisitions Editor for C&T, she saw something else. Perhaps it was that my book idea wasn’t quite right, but I like to spin it a bit and think that maybe it was a twist of fate that we had the opportunity for a real conversation. While we were talking, she stopped me and asked me what I really liked to make and what my students enjoyed learning and making. My answer: purses! Looking back, how silly of me to think of anything else. I do love to teach kids to sew. We make all kinds of things—but when I get to teach about fashion sewing, pattern making, fashion history, and design, something transformative happens, and I feel like I am really teaching from my heart. This book was a lot like that. While the the book is about making bags, of course, the lessons are based on classic sewing techniques. Master these skills, and they will forever be part of your repertoire. My goal is to teach sewing in such a way that it is not so much about the specific project, but more about the hows and whys of each skill. Once you have a basic understanding of construction, the logic of each project becomes considerably clearer.
I wanted this book and the projects to feel clean and inviting. My goal was to somehow bridge the intersection of love of creation and straight-up fashionable bags. To appeal to fashion lovers, DIY’ers, those learning to sew, and even to someone who already sews and just wants to make some great bags.
Each bag pattern is versatile and timeless in shape, with subtle design details to inspire continuous rediscovery and novel fabric pairings. Generally speaking, my designs evoke this sort of push-pull between richness and minimalism; in this book, my approach was apparent. On one end of the spectrum was a luxurious Harris tweed and leather tote with a woven silk lining. On the other end were more playful bags made of quilting cotton and utility canvas.
The book is divided almost equally between technique and projects. I think it is important to educate the reader with the reasoning behind each skill, in addition to the detailed instructions. The concept is especially empowering, because the techniques can be applied to other sewing projects as well. You will learn about zippers, facings, linings, pocket styles, trims, and seam finishes. If you can envision a new bag, with these skills you will suddenly be on your way to sewing the designs of your dreams. Get a peek inside Sew Bags with the Table of Contents below!
Tuesday, 7/1: C&T Publishing
Wednesday, 7/2: Hilarie Wakefield Dayton of Little Stitch Studio Norfolk (that's me!)
Thursday, 7/3: Katie Kortman
Julia of Old Spool Sewing
Friday, 7/4: Jessy of Needle, Ink and Thread
StitchlessTV (YouTube video)
Monday, 7/8: Sewing with Kate
Coming sometime this week:
TopStitch Atlanta Instagram story