One of my best customers ordered a messenger bag from me, in a cute owl fabric. It was the second messenger bag I've made, and it might be time to add them to my Etsy shop.
I made the long, adjustable strap out of a natural-looking upholstery fabric. It's soft, very sturdy and non-slip on your shoulder. The bag can be worn across your body (left) or over your shoulder.
My customer wanted a safe pocket for her iPad, so I made a padded, stabilized pocket with a Velcro closure. In the photo below, I put a book in that pocket. There are all sorts of other slip pockets in the bag's interior.
If you haven't had the "pleasure" of installing a twist lock (also called a turn lock), let me tell you it's a pain! It took a good hour to carefully install it. I'm so glad for the book by Lisa Lam called "The Bag Making Bible," which has lots of photos of techniques like this.
Where did I learn to make messenger bags? From an Australian bag-maker named Nicole Mallaliew (see her blog You SEW Girl)! It just so happens that this owl bag is headed to Australia!
Here are the bag's little sisters:
I'm so grateful to my customers who give me so much practice at different types of bags! - Rene
I've been wanting to make a new style of cross-body purse for a while! I decided to go totally different from anything I've done. I had seen bags with the criss-crossed, angled pockets, and I liked that look. I want to call it a satchel... it's like a messenger bag without a flap. I don't know! What would you call it? Here she is, along with my new mascot, "Eyelet" the owl!: 
Yeah, I know the owl is cute! But don't let that distract you from the bag. Well, I'm distracted too -- my aunt gave it to me at Christmas time. It's from World Market. I think I'm going to use Eyelet as a prop in lots of my photos. Now back to the bag!
This bag is about 12 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and has a 2-inch gusset around the entire bag. It's a rectangular, boxy shape. The full top zipper curves a bit down each side, so the bag opens up nice and wide. You can fit a lot of stuff in here!
The three front pockets are nice and deep -- each goes to the bottom of the bag. You could carry books, e-readers, diapers, glasses or even owls in there! I really love the piping -- it matches the lining and gives the pockets a nice pop!
One side of the lining has a deep zippered pocket that goes all the way to the bottom of the bag. You can store a lot in there! I purposely put that pocket on the opposite side of the front zigzag pockets, to even out the weight. 

The other side of the lining has a nice phone pocket. It has darted corners, so it's got some volume to it. Eyelet the owl thinks it's a cozy spot!

Here's another shot of the phone pocket, before the lining was sewn into the bag: 

See the pocket? It's kind of camouflaged. I really enjoy the shape. 

About the lining: It's a chocolate brown quilting fabric with a light blue floral design.

As usual, I interfaced the fabric with Pellon Shape-Flex. It's my favorite interfacing for purses and most projects. It strengthens the fabric and gives it a bit of structure, but the fabric still drapes like fabric. 

About the exterior fabric: It's a home decorating cotton canvas from Premier Prints. The chevron design is in village blue/natural. The blue is like a cornflower blue with a touch of gray in it...not as bright as it appear in the photos. I found a photo that shows the true color at the Premier Prints site.

The strap is meant to be worn across the body. It's nice and long! If you want to wear it shorter, it is narrow enough to tie in a knot at the shoulder. 

When I custom-make these, I can change the strap length if needed for your height. This one has a 27-inch drop. It's just right for me at 5'7" -- the top of the bag sits just at my low hip.

Another feature I can customize is the interior pockets. Want more or different pockets? Just let me know. I love making bags to suit your needs!

Now, back to Eyelet the owl!

She wants to show you a nice closeup shot of the chevron fabric. It's a "slub" fabric (an unfortunate word), which  means it has lines and texture that resemble linen. I like it, and I have a lot of Premier Prints fabrics like this. If you check out my Canvas & Heavyweight Cottons photos, you'll see a lot of this fabric.

Premier Prints has a lot of different colored zigzags
Here's my prototype of the Zigzag Bag. I used a vintage cotton canvas. It was kind of my  practice one and there were a few things I tweaked the second time around. 

A friend and customer of mine fell in love with this bag and bought it right away! I'll be making her a matching wallet in the vintage fabric. Yeah -- wallets are another new project for me! I've been wanting to try them for a while. 

I used a bright orange zipper and lined the bag in a natural cotton canvas. 

I can't wait to make more Zigzag Bags in many different fabrics!

Want to order one?

Please don't. Not until Feb. 1st, because it's going to be my featured item for February! What a way to debut it! Instead of its regular $50, it will be $43 in the month of February! 

Check my Etsy shop tomorrow (Feb. 1) or anytime during February, and place your order for a Zigzag Bag. Here are my fabric options to get you started. Thanks! -- Rene
Only through January, when you order an "Ellen" purse from me, the price is $37 instead of $45. Current turnaround time is 1-2 weeks. 

To catch the eyes of different people, I've created a few different Etsy listings for my January featured purse, the "Ellen!" They each have different sample photos of purses I've made for other customers. You and I will work together to pick your perfect fabrics from my stash! Or, purchase your own fabric and mail to me, and I will discount your price. 
Here's the original "Ellen" purse, as requested by my friend and customer (bet you can't guess her name!). 

Etsy listing is HERE

This one was made for my friend/customer, Lisa, who was IN LOVE with this bird fabric! I don't have anymore, unfortunately, and it was extremely difficult to find. But it's a gorgeous example of the "Ellen" purse! 

Etsy listing is HERE

This listing features Pam's bee-themed purse! I don't have any more of this adorable fabric either. But I have plenty of amazing fabrics -- some new, some vintage, some ready to be repurposed -- so that YOU can have a one-of-a-kind bag, too!

Etsy listing is HERE

I am planning on photographing my available fabrics soon, to make it easier for you to make your choices. Thank you and have a glorious Tuesday! -- Rene
I finished a quilted Madeleine bag today. I've made a handful of these before -- but this one has a custom laptop pocket. I hope my customer Liz will enjoy it!
The front exterior has 3 deep slip pockets. The middle (largest) one is pleated to make it roomier (and prettier!) Custom piping adorns the row of pockets. 
The interior has a large YKK zippered pocket, and a laptop pocket that closes with an elastic Velcro strap. The bag closes with TWO strong magnetic snaps. 
This design is made with two yards of double-faced, pre-quilted fabric. I special-order your fabric after you checkout, typically from Joann or Because the fabric is pricey and this bag is so large, I charge $85 for them. I offer customizable interior pockets -- if you don't want a laptop pocket, I'll make slip pockets, reader pockets, or whatever you like. The Etsy listing is HERE

For $10 less, you can order a non-quilted bag in this style. I will use medium-weight or heavyweight fabrics with a layer of batting instead. 
The bag is 6 layers thick because the exterior AND the lining are made from pre-quilted fabric. It measures about 19" wide, 14" long, and 4" deep. This is definitely more like luggage than a tote bag. The 14" handles are super-reinforced. 
This bag design was born when a customer requested a large Vera Bradley-inspired school bag that could handle a lot of weight. This is literally TWO quilted bags sewn together to give it maximum strength and interior pockets. It can be used as an overnight bag, school bag, work bag, shopping bag, or whatever you need it for!

It's a lot of work to make this bag! I definitely say "Ta-da!" when I'm finished. Ta-da!
I got a lot done today, so I rewarded myself by drooling over fabric. I have a large stash in my home studio, but there's an endless sea of softly draping beauty out there! 

Just for kicks, I made an Etsy treasury featuring some fabrics I'd love to make purses out of! If your idea of eye candy is the same as mine, you'll enjoy! 

By the way, that's my favorite color right there -- and my favorite shade of it. Leafy green. Mmmm.


    Rene Smits

    Welcome to my passion! 
    I specialize in creating high-quality custom purses and bags. Feel free to contact me with your custom requests. I also sell my ready-made pieces on Etsy: Sew Much Cuteness.

    Etsy shop

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    Cross Body
    Cross Body
    Custom Orders
    Ellen Purse
    Emily Bag
    Fabric Stores
    Jill Purse
    Lunch Tote
    Madeleine Bag
    Messenger Bag
    Sewing Studio
    Tote Bag
    Zigzag Bag


    April 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013