The best fabrics for bag making
Ahhh the wonderful world of fabric! There are so many different types of fabric out there in every texture, pattern, and colour imaginable it can be a bit overwhelming at times.
For bags and accessories, you want to choose sturdy fabrics that can withstand their potential heavy usage.
I have put together this guide to help you decide on some of the best fabrics to make your bags and accessories with.
This cheap and cheerful fabric comes in a huge amount of choices when it comes to patterns and colours. Personally, I am a pattern lover and I adore all things bright and colourful but, whilst the choices are amazing, craft/quilting cotton does tend to be on the thin side when it comes to the weight of the fabric, so if you do wish to use it for your next bag or pouch you will need to interface it to make sure it is stable enough. More on interfacing can be found here.
This very versatile, medium weight fabric is a great choice for bags and accessories because it's sturdy, yet really easy to sew with. It is a popular choice for uniforms and work clothes because it is very hard-wearing, which makes it a perfect choice for bags and accessories too.
Oilcloth is a woven fabric, which has a PVC coating on one side to give it a waterproof finish. It is a great choice if you wish for your projects to be wiped clean and water repellent. It is particularly good for making makeup bags and toiletry bags.
Upholstery/Curtain Fabric /Cotton Canvas
These 3 fabrics all fall into the same group because they are of similar weights and behaviours. These are some of my favourite fabrics to work with because they are so sturdy. They come in many different colours and patterns, are hard wearing and keep their shape well.
Perfect for making the Seren Dumpling Pouch.
Vegan leather, also known as faux leather is a synthetic material which is a great alternative to genuine leather. It's cheaper than genuine leather, waterproof, and looks great.
There's nothing quite like the durability of genuine leather. It is a fabric that is known to stand the test of time and, in most cases, gets better with age. It's a tricky material to sew using a domestic sewing machine but that doesn't mean it can't be done. Just make sure to choose a leather that is 3oz or less.
Oilcloth, Faux leather, and genuine leather can be quite tricky to use, especially if you are a beginner as they are quite unforgiving. If you make a mistake sewing these materials it shows as the needle will leave holes in your work. You will also require heavier sewing machine needles (more on that here) heavier threads (more on that here) and often a special non-stick nylon coated sewing machine foot, a walking machine foot or a roller foot to help the fabric glide through your machine easier.
It’s always a good idea to use interfacing to give your projects more structure. Again, there are so many different types of interfacing out there it can be a bit overwhelming to begin with. Take a look at my quick guide to interfacing here
The lining of your projects can be as fun as you like. Some people love that little pop of colour when they open their bags. Some like to surprise you with a gorgeous Liberty print interior, whilst others like to keep it simple and practical with just a dark or neutral cotton. It is totally up to you, it's your creation so make it however you like. Here are just a few fabrics that work well for lining your bags and accessories.
There are a few practical and durable waterproof fabrics on the market that work really well for bags and accessories, especially for makeup bags and toiletry bags such as the Verity Zipper Pouch. They are easy to clean and will protect your outer fabrics just in case of any surprise spillages inside.
The choice of material is nylon - a 100% synthetic material that is water repellent, lightweight, and durable. Quite often nylon is blended or coated with other materials to give it extra strength. Here are some of my favourites.
PU coated waterproof 4 oz nylon
Cordura or similar
Shower curtains also work well and are available in lots of patterns and colours
Tip: If you choose to line your work with nylon fabric then it is highly recommended that you use nylon threads.
This fabric works so well when it comes to lining as it is cheap, practical, and due to its lightness, super easy to use. This fabric is available in pretty much every colour imaginable, so if you are looking for a perfect pink to harmonise the pretty petals in your - Fryett's print, then chances are you will be able to find it.
Depending on the weight and use of your bag, if you use this to line a small pouch such as the Iris Zipper Pouch, craft cotton will be just fine on its own. However, if you are looking to line a tote bag or something larger you may need to interface it, to give it some extra durability and strength.