*Mistake #1 – Failing to READ through the ENTIRE instructions included with your pattern BEFORE you begin! Even if you are an experienced sewer, there are many ways different ways to construct a bag and often a designer has a different way of doing things than you do .....or a reason for doing something in a particular way that is often not obvious until it is TOO LATE if you haven't followed their instructions! Besides....you might just learn a new technique! If you don't like it, you can always go back to 'your' way of doing things next time!
*Mistake #2 –Not paying attention to the fabric suggestions included with your pattern. Most designers test their patterns in a range of different fabrics and will give you a guide to the most suitable choice for the bags design. Make up your bag following THEIR suggestions first time and then experiment with different fabrics and structural materials after you are familiar with the design! Everyone has different like and dislikes as far as the look and feel of a bag so don't be afraid to test out different combinations of fabric, wadding and interfacing to achieve the look that YOU like however it is always best to do that AFTER you have made at least one bag following the recommendations included with the pattern!
*Mistake #3 – Make sure your sewing machine is in good order with a nice fresh needle suitable for the bag you intend to make and the fabrics chosen! If you are sewing thick denim or many layers, use a needle to suit or you will end up with skipped stitches, shredded thread and broken needles! (Not to mention frayed nerves and lots of words shouted out that you would ordinarily NOT use? LOLL) Choose a type of needle to suit the job at hand! If in doubt, check your sewing machines manual (Yes I know that sounds obvious BUT how many people actually READ their manuals?? Only if all else fails?? LOLL) Machine needles are often neglected and yet a sharp new needle of the correct type can make a world of difference to your sewing experience!
*Mistake #4 –If you intend to WASH your bag, then you should PRE-WASH your fabrics...exterior AND linings! Everyone loves the crisp new feel (and smell!) of new fabrics however if you intend to wash your bag, trust me, the look of the bag with shrunken fabrics, especially where the lining shrinks at a different rate to your exterior fabric, is NOT a good look! Of course, if you only ever intend to surface wash your bag then by all means, USE the fabric without pre-washing! If you SELL your bags, DO include a label so the buyer knows wether to surface wash only, hand wash OR toss in the washing machine!
*Mistake #5 – Using the wrong interfacing and wadding! If the bag is designed to be rigid and stand on its own, don't expect that to happen if you do not follow the suggestions included with your pattern! As there are MANY different choices available and MANY designers in MANY different countries, it isn't always easy to get the choice EXACTLY right to begin with as brands and product names do vary. However it is OK to substitute different brands and you can still achieve a satisfactory result. Usually the pattern will specify wether the interfacing (or wadding etc) is light weight or medium weight etc. Try to choose something as close to what you think is needed as you can find and don't make your first bag from your favourite fabric! Have fun making up a couple and honing in on your perfect bag! The more you experiment and the more experienced you become (Which only comes from trying different things/combinations) the more fun you will have and the more often you will achieve GREAT results! Soon you will wonder why those words put the FEAR in you! If you are really lost, don't forget to ASK the designer! Many are only too happy to help you with suggestions of substitutes!
*Mistake #6 – Failing to press your work as you sew! Oh what a difference pressing seams can make in the quality of your finished bag so don't neglect this seemingly unimportant little point!
*Mistake #7 – Using the wrong threads! Even if you have skimped on your fabrics (by recycling/upcycling? LOL) DON'T be tempted to skimp by buying cheap threads! Why do all that work only to have it fall apart when you use it? Buy good quality threads and if you are planning on carrying heavy items (Or LOADS of money?) then use a quality upholstery thread. It might cost you a little more now BUT your bag will give you years of reliable service as a result!
*Mistake #8 -Not bothering to gather all of the required hardware or notions. You don't want to find yourself almost done only to discover you don't have a zipper in the right colour or size or that you can't get what you need or have to wait WEEKS for those gorgeous hooks or rectangular rings to arrive! Get everything organised before you start so that you can enjoy the satisfaction of completing your bag sooner rather than later! If you don't know where to get the hardware you need and suggestions are not included with your pattern, ASK the designer! They can most likely point you in the right direction!
I hope these hints will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make in making bags. A little knowledge can go a long way! (Ask me how I know? LOLLL)
Happy bag making!