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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Friday Favorites–Purses

Most people know spring is coming because they start to notice the tulips and daffodils poking out of the ground, or the air starts to bite a little less.  Maybe it’s the desire to open a window or start cleaning after the family’s winter hibernation.  How do I know spring is on the horizon?  I get sick of my purse and want to replace it.  Pretty deep, huh?  So, a few purses may have caught my eye this week.

Film is getting harder to come by, but if you happen to have some lying around you’d like to get rid of, try this 35mm Film Bag from Instructables user shesparticular.

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This Fat Quarter Handbag from Sew, Mama, Sew can be made from two fat quarters – one for the outside and another for lining.  Visit the page for more variations and embellishments.

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I’m a sucker for a kisslock frame, and Big ‘N Beautiful Betty from Uhandbag would be an absolutely perfect spring purse.  I love everything about her.

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These upcycled Shirts to Purses from Bugglebee are practical, but still lovely.

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A clutch can come in handy (get it? Smile), and I like the zipper at the top of this Fold-Over Clutch from Pattern Runway.

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I love the square opening on the Olivia Bag from Dixie Mango.

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The unique opening on the Caliti Clutch from Sew Sweetness is perfect with the fabric choices.

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Sometimes a purse just needs to be fun.  I think this Fabric Fishy Purse from Make It and Love It has that covered.

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And in the “Wait, what?” category, check out this Retro Rotary Phone from Chica and Jo.  If I had an old phone at my disposal, I would already be carrying this purse.

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I’m just curious…do you call them purses or handbags?  Anybody know the difference?

Friday Favorites–Weddings

Next Wednesday, June 29th, my husband and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.  It’s been 20 great years, but it feels like it was only yesterday that we were two kids, heading off to start our life together.  Now we HAVE two kids and a lot of road behind us.  There was really no choice in my favorites this week.  It had to be weddings.

We were married back in the days of the white guest book and feather pen.  I’m kinda glad to see we’ve moved on.  This Birthday Calendar Guestbook from The Bright Life is pure genius.

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Wedding or not, this Tree Pedestal Cake Stand from OnceWed is beautiful.

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This Embroidered Love Pillow from Growing Home would be a fun bridal shower activity and a lovely gift for the bride.

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It might be worth it to have this many bridesmaids just to make this rainbow.  And all the flowers match!  From The Knotty Bride.

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Coffee Bean Favor Bags from Intimate Weddings.  How do I get invited?

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For some reason, I just love the idea of these Mini Pinata Favors from Ruffled

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I don’t remember ever seeing Save the Date cards before I got married.  If I were going to have some though, I’d want them to be just like these from Weddingbee.

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There’s just something elegant about a black and white wedding cake.  Add some red, like this one shown on Project Wedding, and I might swoon a little. 

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I’ve noticed a trend toward smaller veils lately.  This Mini Veil from Emmaline Bride is just right.

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I love flowers, and especially wedding flowers, but whoever came up with bridesmaids carrying clutches instead was brilliant.  Etsy seller jennalou06 offers a Design Your Own option.

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