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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Ninja Monkey Bags on Etsy

After a long absence, I’ve restocked my Etsy shop with some Ninja Monkey Bags.  In honor of their return, from now through Monday you’ll also receive a FREE matching coffee cup sleeve with the purchase of a bag!

Beige 1  Black and flowers 1  Grey yellow 1  Keys 1  Monkey 1  Pink crosshatch 1  Tattoo 1

As you can see, there are only seven bags, and they aren’t something I’ll have in stock all the time, so if you want one, now is the time to grab it!

Friday Favorites–Disney Inspired

As you read this, I’m in Disneyland.  Yep, probably waiving my arms in the air on California Screamin’, trying not to get “It’s a Small World” stuck in my head or standing in a line in the new Cars Land.  I know two things – I am having fun and I’m not coming back until I have to.

We’ve made many trips to Disneyland over the years and counted down with the kids for a couple of them, but never with a Mickey Chalkboard like this one from Happy Clippings.  Now I feel like I missed something.

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This countdown from Crafting in the Rain is a clever way to show the little ones how many days are left before they understand numbers.

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When my kids were each about two years old, they had a favorite Disney movie.  When I say favorite, I mean we had to watch it at least once every day.  For my daughter, it was The Lion King.  That was back in the days of VHS and she watched it so much it developed a permanent green line at the top of the screen.  Hakuna matata.  This Simba Cutie Papercraft from Disney Family is for her.

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My son’s daily dose of Disney was Toy Story.  I think we all fought the tears a little at Toy Story 3, because not only was it sweet, but it was the end of an era for our boy.  When he feels nostalgic, I can surprise him with these Green Alien Cupcakes from Disney Family.

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Speaking of cupcakes, what better Disney decoration than the Mouse himself?  Love these Mickey Cupcakes from Sweet Tooth.

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I saw these Mickey Mouse Washer Necklaces from A Creative Princess on Pinte…err…the internet a while back and immediately stashed the link away for future use.

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There are a bajillion tutorials for Disney shirts out there (I even did one myself recently), but what I love about these DIY Disney Shirts from Two Oh Two Seven is that pirate scarf.  I can’t guarantee I’m not wearing one of these right now.

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Whenever we have a Disney trip planned, I find myself getting in the mood well in advance.  I start wanting to put Disney stuff everywhere, which is why these Mickey Mouse Hotpads from Taffy Talk would be perfect in my kitchen.

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This Disney Travel Activity Kit from A Creative Princess would be a perfect plane or car activity for the commute to the Happiest Place on Earth.

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It seems like you always need a bag for something while in the park, and this simple little DIY Drawstring Backpack from Brassy Apple would be perfect.

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If you want to get your Disney on in more of a tote style, check out this bag from Disney Family.

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If you’re older than 9 you cannot wear a costume into a Disney park.  It’s a rule I completely agree with and understand the reasoning behind.  But if you want to wear an outfit inspired by your favorite Disney character that’s perfectly fine and the brilliant young lady behind DisneyBound is here to help you with your look.  I could spend hours looking through her style boards.

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Since today is also my 21st wedding anniversary, I’d like to tell the world what an amazing man I married.  He’s generous, supportive, funny, thoughtful and I’m lucky beyond words to be his wife.  Now we’re going to take a romantic tumble down the Tower of Terror together.  See you next week!