Updated: Apr 17
So you have gone down the rabbit hole of bag making and you're itching to get started, there are a few essential tools and equipment that you'll need to get started. Here are some of the essential bag making tools I found I needed. Don't buy the most expensive that isn't always necessarily the best, look into what you want to buy, ask for recommendations and read reviews.
Sewing machine - A sewing machine is an essential tool for making bags. Look for a machine that has a heavy-duty motor and can handle thicker fabrics like canvas or leather. Vintage singer machines that have been well maintained are a great place to start, they can sew through the thick layers and are very easy to maintain yourself. There are some fantastic resources on YouTube for simple repairs and maintenance. They also look awesome. I sew mainly now with a Janome HD9 or a Jack H2 walking foot machine but I have progressed to these and started my bag making journey with a Singer 66K. I have a YouTube video about the machine I use.
Cutting & MeasuringTools- You will need a good pair of fabric scissors for cutting out your bag pieces. Look for scissors that are sharp and comfortable to hold. Fabric scissors come in right handed and left handed varieties. Rotary cutters are a great tool for cutting out straight lines quickly and accurately. A self-healing cutting mat will protect your work surface and help keep your cuts straight. Using quilting rulers with your rotary cutter will make cutting out your pattern pieces easier, faster and more accurate. As with fabric scissors rotary cutters come in left and right handed versions. Quilting rulers are a great way to measure out your pieces, a tape measure can also be used to mark out you pieces before cutting.
Clips and pins - Clips or pins are used to hold your fabric pieces together as you sew. I personally use quilting clips such as wonder clips a lot as I work in vinyl and leather a lot, using pins would leave permanent holes in your projects.
Iron and pressing surface - Pressing your fabric as you sew is important for achieving professional-looking results. A good iron and pressing board are essential tools for bag making. I use and love a wool pressing mat, but using your standard house hole ironing board is a great way to start your bag making.
Seam ripper - My most used tool ha ha even the most experienced of us make mistakes and a seam ripper is a life saver in these situations. A seam ripper is a tool that helps you remove stitches quickly and easily without damaging your fabric. There are various styles on the market choose one that you can work well with and feels good in your hand.
Thread - Choosing thread that is strong enough to handle the weight of your bag and matches the colour of your fabric is really important. Its important that you make sure your machine can handle the thickness of your thread. I use a standard poly thread in my Janome HD9 and a tex 70 in my Jack H2 industrial machine. I have a post on the types of bag making threads available you may find it useful,
Needles - You'll need needles to match the fabric you're are sewing there are different needles for fabrics such as leather which have a different point to slice through the leather as opposed to the ball point needle with pushes through the weave of fabrics like cotton. Choose a size relevant to the thickness of your project, the thicker the fabric the larger the needle needed, also thicker thread requires a larger needle.
Fabric - The most important thing you will need is fabric to make your bag .Choose a bag making fabric that is appropriate for the type of bag you want to make, go by the designers recommendations for fabric choices the first time you make a bag pattern, you can then think about different fabrics that may work for future projects.
Interfacing - The second most important thing you will require is good quality interfacing. Bag making interfacing comes in Woven and Non Woven and its important to use the correct one I have written a post about the different types of bag making interfacing you can buy and how they work.
Bag making hardware - You will need a variety of hardware depending on the bag you are making. From D rings, swivel clasp, tri glides to rivets, purse feet and strap ends. There is a wide range of bag making suppliers here in the UK. Ask in sewing communities and your sewing friends which companies they recommend for quality and service.
These are just a few of the tools and equipment that you'll need to get started making bags. As you become more experienced, you may find that there are additional tools and equipment that you need to add to your collection. Go slow and build up your arsenal as you go don't rush into buying all the things as you will probably find you never use them and they just gather dust. Ask me how I know :)
I hope this has been helpful, What are your essential bag making tools and equipment let me know in the comments.
Until next time Happy sewing