Oh, how I love handbags! In the past few years I’ve seen such growth in the handmade handbag industry. Finding fabrics, interfacings, and hardware is now easier to find thanks to online retailers and in a matter of days you can stock your room full of bag making goodies. So it’s no surprise to see handbags showing up in patterns, books and magazines. It’s bag making heaven!
Recently, I had the opportunity to review a copy of Signature Bags 12 Trend-Setting Patterns to Sew at Home by Michelle Golightly, illustrated by Mary Ashley Gavilanes. Published in 2016 by Fons&Porter part of the F+W family, both companies are well established and popular in the sewing and quilting world.
As a handbag designer and pattern tester for the past few years I have developed an appreciation for the different ways patterns are designed. Some are very wordy with little or no images, some more images with simple instructions, some have a good mixture of both. I am a huge visual learner and I’m happy to say Signature Bags delivers in well written instructions and great technical drawings that help explain many steps for each of its twelve patterns.
Patterns are listed in two chapters, one for smaller clutches and purses the second for totes and larger bags. Each pattern has finished sizes clearly listed. The level of difficulty, suggested fabric choices and skills you should review before you begin (the first section of the book is devoted to explaining tools and techniques from hardware to laminate) are included as well.
Also included in each pattern is a detailed materials list, hardware, notions and any needed extra cut pieces. I must note that this book has no pull-out pattern pieces to trace and cut. Everything is on a CD attached to the back of the book. How to print them out along with a cutting chart is on the CD for easy printing. Any extra cutting is also listed before you begin. I LOVE this!! Keeps me organized!!
Once you pick your purse you’ll notice Michelle has added boxed tips as you sew through the pattern to make your construction easier. All images are also labeled (ex Figure 8) and instructions are easy to follow.
One feature of this book I truly enjoy is the overall feel of the book. Light and soft colored fabrics are used in the handbags as well as on the models. Very feminine and cohesive!
As for the patterns themselves, I found I enjoyed the larger handbag patterns the most. All of them could be my go-to everyday bag! The smaller and mid-size handbags had a more specific outing feel to me. A special event, brunch, wedding, date, etc. Michelle created several bags in this book with very unique handle hardware. I let you find them when you read it, but they are really cool and could easily be added to many patterns!
I’m a big bag fan which most of you know, so the Farmers Market Tote is my favorite pattern in Signature Bags. The perfect mix of bias binding accents, piping, and zipper accents makes this tote really pop. Plus it’s an easy pattern perfect for a challenging beginner.
I will enjoy having Signature bags on my bookshelf. If you are a new handbag sewist you will be able to learn all the basics you need to start sewing handbags. There are a wide range of difficulties for you to choose from and when you’re done you’ll be ready to tackle another one!
If you are an experience handbag sewist, this book would be a nice addition to your collection and you many learn a few new techniques as well. Give Signature Bags a try, you’ll like it!