Where do you start?!
Walking into a haberdashery can be overwhelming - whether you're new to sewing or not - so here are some tips on how to find the perfect fabric for your perfect bag.
1) Which fabric will suit your bag best. Are you making a weekender bag or an evening clutch? Basically, figure out what your bag is going to be used for as this will be reflected in your fabric choices.
Eg. if you try to make that weekender bag out of silk and your evening clutch from oilcloth, you could run into problems!
2) Interfacing is your new best friend. You know the saying "it's what's on the inside that counts" ? Well this is sooo true with bags. The right interfacing can make all the difference, and we have a great selection to choose from.
If you need more advice on which interfacing to use, check out some of our archive posts like this one.
3) Fabric combos. I love the surprise of picking up a super cute bag and opening it up to find an even jazzier lining fabric inside. Mixing and matching your fabric choices can be alotta fun, and it's a great time to experiment. Why not try a neon lining with a monochrome exterior fabric?
You can also match up small details of different fabrics Eg. our purse and bag making kits often have a "sister colour" that runs through both the exterior and lining fabrics and even if it's a minority colour, it can really pull the bag together.
Don't forget about pockets and straps too - these can be a great way to experiment with fabric mixing - exterior fabric could be used for the lining pocket and vice versa, and block colour straps can be used to contrast the exterior body fabric.
4) Pattern size (repeat). In general it's a good idea to scale the pattern size to the size of the bag you want to make, but there are no rules. Sometimes an interesting snippet of a monster-big pattern can look really exciting on a small purse, or as a feature pocket. If in doubt experiment. For bag linings I like to keep patterns and pattern repeat size on the small and subtle side - that way I find it's easier on the eyes when I'm rummaging around for my house key!
5) Tricky fabrics. The idea of working with certain fabrics can be off-putting, but with every fabric you can find a smooth routine with a little practice. For example, a walking foot is great when using oilcloth or waterproof fabrics (in fact, a walking foot works wonders on sooo many fabrics - velvet, silks, etc.!). Also, using sewing clips instead of pins when using silks and fine fabrics can make the process a lot easier - plus there's no chance of ruining the fabrics with pin holes!
It's always a good idea to have a test scrap of fabric to work with when using a new fabric; practise on this, and adjust your stitch length or tension if things aren't looking quite right. There's no harm in spending a good half hour experimenting like this - that way you'll be a pro when it comes to the real deal.
Why not try our pattern for the Big 'n' Beautiful Betty purse which gives you loads of room to play around with fabric choices, and don't forget to show us the results :)