Bag-making tips from a (fashionable) pro


In preparation for my bag-making party, I asked my friend Rachel of Lady Jane Designs for some advice on the dos and don’ts of DIY totes.  Those of you not into sewing (or just looking for hot accessories) can find and purchase beautiful bags from Lady Jane Designs on Etsy.   Anything but frumpy!

everydaytrash: How did you get into bagmaking and when do you find the time?

Lady Jane Designs: I got into bagmaking because I had a lot of scraps of fabric left over from other projects, and wanted to find something to make with them (up to that point, I had mostly made dresses).  I also liked having a sewing project that I could start and finish within a few hours, and they made great gifts for my friends when I didn’t have the time to devote to making them a whole garment.  Finding the time to sew can be difficult working full time but I manage to squeeze it into the evenings and weekends.  The most time consuming part is generally cutting the pattern (though much less time consuming than a garment) and ironing/sewing in the interfacing, which you generally want to do all in one go.  The sewing part you can do in bits whenever you have time.  In fact I am taking a break from sewing right now to write this.

everydaytrash: What kind of materials make the best tote bags, practically and fashionably speaking?  What materials should one avoid?

Lady Jane Designs: In terms of recycled materials, you want to look for heavier weight, woven materials.  Materials such as denim or upholstrey weight fabric will make the best bags.  Avoid materials that are knit, such as old t-shirts…knits make great apparel, but as a bag they’ll stretch out once you weigh them down with stuff.  Also try to avoid any materials that are loosely woven, they can tend to get snagged on things and aren’t as durable.  In terms of newer fabrics, I love all the awesome fabrics coming out of Japan, you can find some great stuff on sites like,, or various sellers on  For the exterior of the bag, try to search for terms like “canvas” or “upholstrey weight.”

Any other tips, common novice mistakes to avoid?

Lady Jane Designs: Generally you’ll want to interface your bag, which will maintain its shape but also increase its durability.  It adds another step to the process but you’ll thank yourself in the end.  You will also want to get some good thread (not the cheap dollar store variety!) and some thick needles.  You’ll also want to invest in a good iron that gets really hot.  Thick materials can be stubborn so you’ll really want to iron the hell out of them to open your seams.

everydaytrash: Trashtastic tips, thanks!

Note to New Yorkers: Rachel will be selling her stuff this Sunday at the Artists and Fleas market in Williamsburg, sharing the table with another fabulous accessories designer, Tiny Hearts.

Photos ripped from Lady Jane Designs.

5 Responses to “Bag-making tips from a (fashionable) pro”

  1. Unsolicited Fashion « everydaytrash Says:

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  2. Unsolicited Fashion | 1800blogger Says:

    […] beautifully crafted from junk mail back in 2000—has made the rounds of the internets.  My friend Rachel saw it on A Dress A Day via Recycle […]

  3. Unsolicited Fashion | Conservation Blog Says:

    […] beautifully crafted from junk mail back in 2000—has made the rounds of the internets.  My friend Rachel saw it on A Dress A Day via Recycle […]

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