Bag-Making Basics

  • Saturday, October 29, 2022
  • Sunday, October 30, 2022
  • 2 sessions
  • Saturday, October 29, 2022, 12:00 PM 4:00 PM (PDT)
  • Sunday, October 30, 2022, 12:00 PM 4:00 PM (PDT)
  • BARN Fiber Studio, Class Code FI102922FF
  • 5


  • 195 Tuition + $68 Materials Fee
  • $150 Tuition+ $68 Materials Fee
  • $150 Tuition + $68 materials


In the last few years, bag-making has become so popular! But how do you get started? Do you have to follow a pattern every time? Which materials are going to produce the results you want? How do you use hardware, and where do you get it?

To answer these questions and more, let’s make a bag from quilting cotton, which you can quilt or not, with a recessed zipper, lining, an internal slip pocket, and an adjustable cork strap. The bag will be lightly structured and measure about 8” x 10” x 3". This small size is perfect for carrying wallet, phone, keys, and glasses, and it fits into a larger tote when needed. The adjustable strap means you can wear the bag cross-body for hands-free or shorten the strap for a comfortable shoulder bag.

So that we can finish (or get close to finishing) in the class time, this bag has a simple shape and limited features, but as we look at examples of other shapes and features, you’ll see that once this bag is complete, you have the skills to plan and sew much more complex bags, from clutches to backpacks.

And speaking of planning, we’ll review a template you can use for future bag planning.

Key features and techniques in this bag are:

  • Shaping: Boxed corners
  • Finishing: Turned through gap in lining
  • Structure: Headliner foam plus 2 layers of Pellon ShapeFlex (and quilting); Peltex in bottom
  • Closure: Recessed zipper using continuous zipper tape
  • Strap: Adjustable; pre-made cork plus slider; attached with double-cap rivets and rectangle rings
  • Interior slip pocket
  • Purse feet

For each of these features and techniques, we’ll talk about alternative choices you could make for your next bag.

This class will kick off a monthly Bag Making Interest Group in the Fiber Studio. We’ll discuss the study group during this class, but you do not have to take this class to join the study group, and you do not have to join the study group if you take this class. Stay tuned for more information!

Please note: Depending on whether and how you decide to quilt your bag, you may need to work on your bag between class sessions in the studio or at home. If you decide to add dense or complicated quilting to your bag, please plan to spend a little extra time on your own Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

Supplies Needed:

  •  A half-yard of quilting or shirting cotton plus a coordinating quarter-yard or fat quarter of quilting or shirting cotton. This pdf provides details: Attachment for bagmaking basics.pdf 
  • Thread of your choice for construction and quilting
  • Sewing machine—bring your own or reserve one of BARN’s
  • Tools: rotary cutter and ruler, scissors, hand-sewing needle, marking tools, pins and clips, seam ripper, etc. You may use BARN tools or bring your own


  • Skill Level: Advanced Beginner and up.  A little sewing experience is useful—you should be able to sew a straight(-ish) seam
  • A materials Fee of $68 is included in the registration. The fee covers interfacing and other stabilizers, hardware, strap, lining, glue, and zippers. You will have a choice of silver or gold hardware and black zipper tape with silver- or gold--colored teeth. The lining will be white with a small neutral-color print.
  • Prerequisites: If you are going to use a BARN sewing machine-certification on BARN’s Presto 2 sewing machines by taking Learn How to Use the Fiber Studio Sewing Machines
  • Non-Members if you would like to use one of BARN's machines please email [email protected]
  • Please click here for BARN's current COVID-19 health & safety protocols. 
  • BARN is committed to accessibility. Tuition Assistance is available - click here to fill out the simple application before registering for a class. For those who might need physical assistance, please learn about BARN's Companion Program here.


Fran Fuller started sewing bags in 2013, and she was hooked from the first one (a clutch with a frame). She has made a million mistakes since then—and has had some successes—and she learned from each one. She’ll share the top tips she has learned for getting good results. She often makes bags up as she goes—and here’s her first tip: Plan your bag, don’t make it up as you go. Being surprised can be good on your birthday but not when you want a good-looking bag you’re proud to carry.”

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