When you start bag making you will want all the gear but you definitely want to have the idea too. Lots of equipment and materials that are used in craft or dressmaking sewing can be used in bag making too. Here are my essentials if you are just starting out.
Sewing Machine - Doesn't have to be flash or all singing and dancing but something that is sturdy if you're wanting to sew bags. Vintage singer machines such as 66k, 99k or 201K are great machines for bag making and can be picked up relatively cheaply. Maintenance of these machines are fairly simple too.
Quilting ruler, rotary cutter and cutting mat - Most bag patterns especially beginner patterns are made up of square pieces and having a ruler and cutter makes cutting out much easier and more acurate which I think helps to make you bag projects much easier to do.
Interfacing - Good quality interfacing can make or break your finished bag and I really do think the better the quality of interfacing the better the finished bag. I wrote a post on interfacing which you may find useful and can found here. The difference between woven and non woven interfacing can change the finished look of your bag.
Clips - You dont need lots to start with but if your planning on using leather or faux leather in your bags you can't use pins to keep pieces together it will leave holes in your pattern pieces. Wonder clips or even hair clips are great to use.
Hardware - Only buy the hardware you need for each project as you go, its really tempting when you see all the shiny things to buy them all, then not have a clue what you want to do with them. By buying what your pattern suggests and trying different suppliers you will find what hardware you like and not end up with a huge stash of bag making hardware that you wont use. Usually hardware in bag making patterns call for things such as D rings, Strap Sliders, Rivets, Swivel clasps and Magnetic Snaps
Zipper Tape and Sliders. - Again check what the pattern you are using suggests to use, if you are using #5 Zipper tape remember you will need #5 pulls and the same with #3 Zipper tape. Buy your pulls from the same supplier to ensure they fit together. Also make sure you are buying the right pulls for the right zipper for example you will need pulls for nylon coil zipper tape if you are using nylon coil tape and likewise with metal teeth zippers you will need the correct pulls.
Seam Ripper (and other standard sewing tools like tape measure) - Most of the tools you will use within quilting or dressmaking sewing you will find useful in bag making especially if you are like me a seam ripper will be invaluable.
And of course your fabric of choice. Look to see what the pattern suggests I tend to stick to suggested fabrics and not experiment too much when making a bag pattern for the first time, this way I get to see how the pattern goes together and can see whether I think other materials and fabrics would work.
You dont need to go wild buying all the things when you first start, stick with what the pattern suggests and build up your supplies and equipment as you start to tackle more difficult and indepth patterns. That way you wont be left with things you wont ever use. Ask me how I know :)
Until next time