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Tips For Making The Best Bags

Annie Unrein of ByAnnie.com shared her wisdom and tips on making the best bags during a $5.00 Lecture Class at Road 2019.

making the best bags

Annie’s path to making the best bag started when one of her beloved Vera Bradley bags wore out. She decided to try and copy the bag. In the end, she liked how it turned out except for one thing: the feel of the bag. Her version would collapse when she sat it down. She took the Vera Bradley bag apart and found out that they used a type of foam instead of batting sandwiched between the fabric layers. Annie went shopping to several stores, trying to find a similar foam but had no luck. The closest she got was “headliner foam” – the stuff they use in manufacturing cars. She used this product for 2-3 years, but still was not completely satisfied with the result because this foam would stretch over time.  Instead of settling, Annie decided to make her own foam. And then her own patterns. And that was how ByAnnie.com was started: a one place stop to find everything needed for making the best bags.  

What were Annie’s most popular tips for making the best bags?

The most important item for making the best bag is to have the right kind of stabililzer.

The trade name for the foam Annie developed is known as Soft and Stable. It is 58 inches wide; a ½ yard piece is enough for two bags. When she first started, the Soft and Stable was black. White came a few years later and today, is the number one seller. The key to Soft and Stable is that the material creates static which keeps the fabric firm.

making the best bags

Quilt the Fabric First

If the bag pattern calls for quilted fabric, an important step in making the best bag is to quilt the fabric pieces for the pattern first. This way, there is no loose lining. Make a quilt sandwich before quilting: lining, Soft and Stable, then outside fabric. If using a longarm, quilt the entire large piece of fabric. Annie said that two yards of fabric is ideal to quilt beforehand. This will make about two bags. In order to keep the Soft and Stable from peaking out through the edges, stitch ½ inch around all the outside edges. Annie uses a stiletto to keep the fabric down.

making the best bags

If the pattern doesn’t require quilted fabric, omit the quilting step and just use the main fabric, being sure to cut the Soft and Stable to fit.

Pinning and Cutting the Pieces

Place pins at a 45-degree angle. This pushes the fabric to the outside. Pin on the outside fabric side and then flip the project over to make sure the inner lining isn’t crinkling. Pin every 6-8 inches.

Never throw away the leftover pieces from cutting. You can join the smaller pieces of Soft and Stable with a zig zag stitch.

Stitching the Bag

Use a 90-14 topstitch needle for all bag types. This needle has a bigger eye and keeps the thread from fraying. Thread should be fine, #50 polyester thread. If the pattern calls for a fold in the bag, stitch a line of stitching through all layers where the fold is supposed to be.

Ironing

The polyester setting is perfect for making the best bag. Soft and Stable is washable and dryer safe.

Try Different Fabrics

Most bags are made from cotton. Annie has been experimenting with wool fabric and she says that wool is “so gorgeous.” Quilt the lining first, then lay down the Soft and Stable, and place the wool on top. Stitch 1/8 inch around the edge to keep the wool in place.

Annie said she is always learning new things when making the best bag. Her newest techniques are featured on ByAnnie.com’s You Tube Channel where she gives step-by-step directions for her most popular patterns.

making the best bags

To learn more about ByAnnie.com, please visit their website.

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