Book Review: Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics

I’m here today to a book review courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.  They have provided me with the book in exchange for this review, but the opinions are all my own.

If you’re in the market for a unique gift for a friend who sews, or you’re looking for something a little different to try yourself, I have the book for you. 

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Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi might look a little ordinary at first glance.  It’s filled with 25 basic handbag designs, with variations to bring the impressive total to 60 different options.  The colors used throughout the book are fairly neutral, and the many of the shapes we’ve seen before.  Why is this book so unusual then?  All of the bags are meant to be sewn completely by hand.

Knowing that really changes the way you look at this book.  I’ve been doing a lot of hand embroidery recently, but I’m so tied to my sewing machines that I forget it’s possible to construct something without touching a machine at all.  Somehow, a simple bag is a little more beautiful when you know it was made entirely, and literally, by hand.

The projects are divided into three categories,  and the first is shopping bags.  My favorite here is the Checkout Basket Bag.  What a smart idea!

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The next topic is everyday bags, with a selection of simple bags that could be used in a million different ways.

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The last group is fashion bags.  There are some nice shapes in this section.  And a hand-sewn zipper!

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Following the projects, the book covers the construction techniques, equipment and materials used to make these bags.  Everything is explained in such a way that I wouldn’t be afraid to give this book to even the most novice sewist, with the recommendation that she read through the whole book before starting on her first project.

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The instructions for each project seem very thorough.  There are plenty of illustrations, which is a huge plus for me in both sewing and recipe books.  Apparently I’m more of a show, don’t tell kind of person.

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As I mentioned, I’ve been embroidering like crazy, so I really appreciate that the book doesn’t just say “put this sort of stitch here.”   There are diagrams showing what each stitch looks like and how it’s made so that even someone nervously clutching her first skein of floss knows what to do with it.

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Many of the bags are constructed using basic shapes, but there is a pattern sheet in the back of the book for the more oddly shaped.

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Without a doubt, this is my favorite book I’ve reviewed for Tuttle Publishing so far.  There isn’t a single bag shown that I wouldn’t consider making, and I’m completely in love with the idea of sewing it with nothing but a needle and thread.  Maybe some pretty bag fabric will find its way into my Christmas stocking!

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