Handbag art!  It’s everywhere you look.  It’s also a way to spend a lot of money.

Have you considered making your own and having a great time creating personal designs, exclusively fashioned?  This can be done easily and without a lot of spending.

If you know basic sewing, handbag art is easy to grow into.  Patterns and designs may vary according to your mood, personality, budget or need.  Because handbags give you more accessories that multiply your wardrobe combinations, your efforts will be very rewarding.  Also rewarding is the special message that goes with a gift you have personally made.  Everything you finish will be meaningful in some way.  

Styles are unlimited.  The big shopping-bag style is trendy now and quite easy to make and always practical.  The fun with that is having a reason to use bright and colorful fabrics and accents.  Small bags can be designed for stylish evenings all the way to inserts for large bags.  My favorite handbag to make and to carry is a bolo style bag.  It holds a lot, is comfortable and looks great.  My contents are organized in smaller bags that easily switch from one bag to another.  If you like hand craft such as embroidery or felting, a handbag is an excellent way to display your art.

When it comes to expense, you possibly have most everything you need without shopping.  Although, you may want to, of course.  For instance, I make bags using men’s suits, shirts, old belts, buckles, ties, curtain rings, and anything I can find that otherwise is no longer in use.  I’m always motivated by the challenge to produce something I can use that costs me little or nothing except my time and enjoyment.

I realize that not all are fabric collectors.  Although, that in itself is a great hobby.  If nothing else, it gives the pleasure of feasting on beautiful colors, patterns and textures.  Fabric pieces are great for handbag making.  If you are inclined to collect, check with stores that carry fabric books to see if you can acquire the expired ones.  The small pieces are very nice for pockets, rosettes and such, and as parts for small purses.  Many of the materials I purchase come from thrift stores.  You’ll most likely need to purchase thread, zippers, closures and such at a convenient retail store. 

So first, get your inspiration.  Think about handbags you’ve admired while looking through your resources.  Something as simple as a favorite old belt or maybe a piece of embroidery or lace that you treasure can be revived in a handbag that means something very special to you.  You may also enjoy looking through a copy of Haute Handbags.

Describe your inspiration.  Jot a few notes about your plan and list the materials you would like to use.  Sketch a rough resemblance of what you’re thinking about.  That will help you avoid the temptation to restyle after you get started.  You can creatively enhance your basic style or change the way you assemble a part.  However, you don’t want to get sidetracked with inadvertently trying to make one bag be all things.  It can’t be done.  But you can make all bags, as many as you like.  Gather what you have, and purchase any other needed supplies.  You may want to use a purchased pattern as a starting point.

The basic construction of a handbag is the outer bag, the lining and the strap(s).  From there you can get as wild as your creativity demands.  Really, there are no rules.  Four general segments will take you start to finish.

When you’re ready to get started, determine the pattern pieces you will use.  Because I like to make handbags, I use poster board for the patterns I’ve perfected and want to reuse. Trace around pieces on the fabric, cut them out and apply markings.  

Beginning with the outer bag sections, iron on a heavy interfacing.  Apply to the front sides of the fabric any pockets, zippers, appliqués or hand work as well as strap loops or snap closures if they are being used.  After stitching the parts together, if you are applying a flap, baste it to the top edge as well.  Make the flap by sewing rights sides together of two pieces of outer fabric or one piece of outer fabric and one piece of lining, stitching around three sides and leaving the top edge open for turning.  Be sure to apply the snap closure to the underside of the flap before sewing and turning.  If you are closing the top of the handbag with a zipper, apply it before the lining also.

The lining is a wonderful opportunity for a color-satisfying coordinating fabric.  Construct it in the same way as the outer bag, applying pockets and zippers first.  Leave an opening in the bottom seam and slip the lining over the outer bag, rights sides together.  Seam the top edge and turn the lining over the outer to the inside.  You may finish the top edge with binding on some bags, and turning is not necessary in that case. 

If your strap is going to be sewn directly to the purse, do that before connecting the lining to the outer bag.  Otherwise, strap loops and rings will already be in place, and you have one final step.  There is a good trick to turning a strap quickly, or you can fold and top stitch.  Finally, attach your strap to the rings or loops.  Don't forget to close your lining with a quick whip stitch.

That’s it!  Just four sessions and you’re done.  Simple or multifaceted, all handbags are needed.  If you prefer detailed instructions, choose a standard pattern and follow the steps.  Some of the smartest and cutest bags are simply made.

Just to create, just to use once or twice—to keep your favorites or to give something lovely, making handbags is a purposeful pleasure to enjoy. They are your designs, your signature.  It’s all about you.