The Better Bag Maker Class Plan

by Nicole Mallalieu

· My First Tote
· Best Ever Bag Handles

My First Tote: Bag-making for Beginners

Class Description
Boost your sewing skills and confidence as you learn the basics of Better Bag Making. Learn all about interfacing, cutting, sewing and finishing a shopping tote with a zippered pocket, internal base and magnetic snap closure as you make a tote that you can use as an everyday carry-all.

You will finish a Basic Bag (page 66) with a focus on learning the processes, tricks and tips that make the project come together quickly and with a professional finish. It's all in the detail (and tip boxes!).

This workshop is designed for beginners or advancing beginners, but can equally serve as an introduction to the basics of bag-specific sewing techniques for any level of experience or skill. Participants will be bursting with pride and enthusiasm for more when they realize that they can make such well-finished bags!

Class Length
This workshop is best suited to a small group (max. 6) if teaching absolute beginners, and the content can be spread over several days (either 2 full 5-hour days or 5 x 2hr sessions). For advanced sewing skills, the content may be condensed into a shorter timeframe and/or class size increased.

Class Supply List
Required text: The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu
1 1/4 yard quilting or decor-weight fabric for outer bag
1 yard quilting-weight fabric for lining
2 1/4 yard (20" width) medium-weight fusible woven interfacing
2" x 11" nonwoven fusible interfacing (Vilene S320 or Pellon Craft-Fuse) for zipper pocket facing
8" x 13" fast2fuse, Peltex 71F/72F, or Timtex for bag base support
1 magnetic snap 3/4"
1 zipper 8" to match lining fabric
Thread to match outer and lining fabrics
Roll of 1/4" fusible tape (Vliesofix/WonderUnder, Steam a Seam etc)
Tailors Awl
Unpicker/seam ripper
Quilting ruler (this may be supplied by venue)
Rotary Cutter(this may be supplied by venue)
Cutting Mat (this may be supplied by venue)
Sewing machine with a zipper foot and regular presser foot.
Hera Marker
Fabric glue pen (optional)

Classroom Preparation
Participants need to see the benefits of taking care to measure and cut carefully, as well as sew with an accurate seam allowance. Where possible, all cutting should be done with rotary cutters and rulers and the use of seam guides should be encouraged with beginners. (A post-it note can be used as a seam guide where magnetic seam guides are unavailable or unsuited to the given sewing machine).

If available, an ironing press can shorten the time spent on fusing interfacing and having several pressing stations in the classroom will make more efficient use of class time by decreasing the 'wait' time for using the irons.

Class Agenda

  1. Overview of the course content: Introduce the project and its components, as well as the concepts of structure (interfacing), accuracy and quality of finishing.
  2. Fuse and cut bag outer (suggest lining and base are cut at home or during 'wait times' for help or facilities such as the fusing press).
  3. Follow instructions on pages 68-73 to construct the outer bag.
  4. Demonstrate insertion of magnetic snap to class, and then help individuals as they need it.
  5. Demonstrate how to make the Internal Textile Base (page 52).
  6. Make a Basic Zipper Pocket (page 31-36) and a Compartment Pocket (pages 30-31) to the lining pieces.
  7. Sew and attach the lining, and then finish the bag.


Best Ever Bag Handles (Turned Edge Straps with Rings)

Class Description
Make professionally finished handles (as seen on the Marrakesh Overnighter on page 95) to give a high-end fashion look to all your handmade bags!

This turned-edge technique is usually seen on leather bags, but has been adapted to suit any durable fabric. You'll be amazed at how 'designer' a fabric bag can look, and how clever you'll feel!

The workshop is designed for basic-to-intermediate sewing skills and the finished bag handles can be applied to any handbag or tote.

Class Length
This can be a stand-alone strap-making class, or a part of a longer bag-making course.

3 hours to learn the technique and make the first strap. 4-5 hours if both straps are to be made and attached to a bag.

Class Supply List
Required text: The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu
6" x 20" woven or high-quality non-woven (such as Vilene S320) fusible interfacing.
6" x 26" (26" length parallel to selvedge) cotton drill or other décor-weight fabric.
1/4 yard light cotton fabric (color to match main fabric)
Thread to match fabrics
4 x 1" bag rings
16" x 26" fusible webbing (WonderUnder, Steam a Seam etc)
1" Bias Tape Maker
Tailors Awl
Quilting ruler
Rotary Cutter
Cutting Mat
Sewing machine with an assortment of presser feet
Bulldog clips
Hera Marker
Quilt Basting Spray or Fabric glue pen (optional)

Classroom Preparation
Because of the amount of pressing and fusing required to make the straps, a high ratio of pressing stations to students is recommended to minimize waiting time. Hot iron cleaner and applique mats (or baking parchment) should also be provided at each pressing station.

Because accuracy is vital for this technique, all cutting should be done with rotary cutters and rulers.

Class Agenda
Follow the instructions on page 96 to demonstrate how to cut the fabric, interfacing and webbing accurately.
Fold, trim and fuse the strap pieces together.
Add the bag rings
Construct tabs to attach the straps to a bag.
Attach straps to a bag (optional).