Maine, United States

Making Bag / Sewing Notes & Tips

Making Bag / Sewing Notes & Tips


This post is the last in a three-part series that includes my original post, Making Bag, and one on gathering supplies for the Making Bag by Anna Graham from Making No. 6 / Black & White, which was truly a joy to make. I thought it would be nice to share a little of my making experience and some tips that might be helpful.  

Sewing Tools 

A few of my favorite tools for bag making include fabric clips and a sewing gauge (which is my all-time favorite sewing tool). 

Fabric clips are helpful when sewing something thick, and when it's challenging to use pins. I used them many times throughout the process of making this bag. 

A sewing gauge, or seam gauge, comes in handy for so many different things that I find myself using it regularly. I keep one next to my sewing machine and one at my ironing board. 


I have always had a teeny fear of rotary cutters, and still struggle with getting straight lines, so I don't use them often (which is probably why I'm not very good) and didn't use them for cutting out the pattern pieces for this bag. Instead, I used my ruler, marking pen and scissors. If using a rotary cutter isn't your thing, or it's not a tool in your collection, you're not alone and scissors work just fine! 


Sewing the bag handles is one of the times that sewing clips came in handy. I used pins to mark where my stitching should begin and end, and removed the clips as I went along. After sewing the handles, I like to iron the bottom, unsewn part, on the front side, pushing the tip of the iron as close to the sewn edge as possible. This ironing helps the bottom, unsewn portion of the handles lay nice and flat. 

Glue Pen Versus Pins 

One of the suggested tools for sewing this bag that was new to me is a  Sewline Glue Pen, which you can use instead of pins when sewing a zipper. Because I didn't have one, I just used pins, which worked OK. I decided to do a little research on glue pens and after reading some reviews would love to give it a try for my next bag to see how the experience compares to using pins.

Marking the Zipper

I used my sewing gauge to mark 1/4" along both sides of the exterior zipper so that I had a line to follow along with my zipper foot to get a nice straight edge. I typically use the edge of my foot as a guide, but when it comes to zippers and a zipper foot, I find it can be challenging to get a straight line, so this method helps me. I like to use Pilot Frixion pens for marking, which disappear with an iron, but I make sure to test them on a swatch of my fabric beforehand because they can sometimes leave marks. 

Serging Around Pocket 

Because the majority of my sewing is clothing, I sometimes still like to finish off raw edges whenever I can, even when they're unseen, so I decided to do a quick bit of serging around the interior pocket to give it a little more strength. 

Left Zipper End Tab 

After I'd finished up the exterior of my bag, I noticed there was a bit of a gap on the left side of my zipper, and the end was exposed, whereas the right side has a nice zipper tab to cover the end. I realized that I should have placed my zipper a little more to the left when initially installing it. I decided to move on to the lining and come back to it after a while to see if it still bothered me. It did, so I decided to take out a few seams and install another zipper tab on the left side, and I'm really glad I did because I'm much happier with the finished result. Next time I'll make sure to position my zipper a little more to the left! 

Lining Seam Allowance 

When sewing the lining side seams, we are given the option to continue with the 1/2" seam allowance that's used throughout the pattern or use a 5/8" seam allowance to give the lining a little tighter fit. I opted for the tighter fit and wondered if it would pose any challenges, but it didn't and loved how it turned out. 

Edge Topstitching 

The very last step of the pattern is topstitching around the upper edge of the bag, which is such a beautiful way to complete it. I used a 1/4" seam allowance to make the process of getting a straight seam here easier, and also to match the topstitching down the center front of the bag. 

I hope you enjoyed these posts on the Making Bag; it's such a beautiful and fun pattern to sew. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments below! - Emily