Today, I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for my friend Sara Lawson’s new book, Big City Bags: Sew Handbags with Style, Sass and Sophistication (Martingale). The book features 12 patterns for designer-style purses from everyday bags to a diaper tote, and sturdy luggage to a laptop case with an extra protective sleeve for your computer.
Not only is Sara a talented designer who has released dozens of her gorgeous purse patterns for free at her blog Sew Sweetness, but she is a wonderful example of what we are all about at Craft Buds.
Not that long ago, Sara had just discovered the online sewing community and written her very first bag pattern. In 2012, she wrote a total of 26 bag patterns in just 10 months! As you can see, Sara has worked incredibly hard to get her creative business off the ground, and she’s done it all as a wife, and a mom to two little ones.
That’s Sara pictured above with her “Bee Sweet Bag” from the book. Not only did Sara make all of her book projects in a very short time, but when she found out she’d be traveling to Washington state for the photo shoot, she also made several new outfits! I honestly don’t know how she does it all, but Sara has built her patterns business from the ground up, all the while taking time for others and staying true to the generous and loving person that she just is!
The book really celebrates handmade as a lifestyle; Sara claims she hasn’t used any store-bought purses in years. And with Sara as a teacher, you’ll feel confident that you can tackle any sewing project, no matter the difficulty level.
My first positive experience sewing a dress, in fact, was during a sew along hosted on Sara’s blog! Since then, I’ve had many compliments on my everyday purse and diaper bag, which I made using two more of Sara’s bag patterns.
Back to the projects in the book! Each of the bag patterns, like the “Fireside Bowl Bag” pictured above, comes with full-color illustrations and detailed instructions. You can copy pattern pieces (or print if you have an e-book) from the pages in the book, which are labeled and easy to understand. The beginning of the book covers everything you need to know about interfacing (including how you can get by with what you have in your stash), and detailed instructions for using metal clasps, rings, zippers, purse feet and making adjustable straps.
Want to know what one of the bags would look like in a different fabric or colorway? The book displays variations of each pattern, many of which were sewn by Sara’s pattern testers, located around the world. And because they were tested by experts, you can be sure that you won’t end up with too-little fabric or a zipper that doesn’t quite fit.
The gorgeous “Wonderland Bag” (pictured above) is first on my list of projects to make. It features leather handles, which I’ve never tried, and exterior piping for a professional finish. I adore the rounded shape (similar to a soft-sided mailbox, with plenty of room for your belongings) and sturdy sides.
If you enjoy a sewing challenge and have already made some basic totes and zipper pouches, Big-City Bags has all of the tools to help you graduate to the next level. And as Sara says, don’t feel like you have to stick to the patterns as written. “Nothing makes me more excited than when a reader sends me an e-mail saying, ‘I made your bag pattern and I love it! I changed the flap a bit and added a longer strap, and it’s just perfect for me!'” she writes.
All photos from Big-City Bags by Sara Lawson, Martingale, 2013; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.
Would you like to win an e-book of Big-City Bags? Martingale is generously providing one Craft Buds reader with a digital copy of Sara’s book!
To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this blog post telling us one sewing technique that you’d like to branch out and try! (Zippers? Purse straps? Advanced bags in general?) Giveaway is open worldwide, and we’ll choose a random winner one week from the date of this post. Good luck!
Congrats to #66, Amy C.!
I love these bags and I love Sara’s work! So much has happened in the last year! (I think Sara’s next project might be a book on quilty dresses, hint hint, but maybe she doesn’t want to give it all away 😉 I would like to branch out to advanced bags, including straps and special closures. I’d love to make myself a fabulous camera bag some day.
Some day I’d love to try sewing a couture Chanel jacket – I’m pretty sure there’s a whole slew of new techniques to try with that!
Sara’s bags are awesome – thanks for a chance to win her book. I’d like to try a more sophisticated bag, with professional looking hardware.
I think I learn a new technique in every pattern that I buy. Whether its zippers, pockets, or not showing any raw seams. I think you could sew for 30 years and still learn something new. Thats what I love about sewing…its always an adventure.
i am new to sewing (and intimidated) so ANY type i can learn is a huge help!
I just made my first purse 3 weeks ago. I need to learn how to put zippers in purses and add the finishing touches that make them look great. I want to make a couple for Christmas gifts. I’d love to have this help. Thanks for the opportunity.
Wow, this book seems great!
Maybe pockets, zippers…how to sew them withou so much errors 🙂
I think Sara is just adorable. I love bags and she has such a variety that anyone can find their bag. The book looks just wonderful and I need to tackle one of her more advanced projects myself!
I would like to learn how to do the recessed zips on bags. I can do the usual pouch type zips, but like the look of the recessed ones that allow the top of the bag to be wider.
tough question as I’ve made a lot of bags – including testing one of Sara’s. I’d like to do a top zip closure on a bag, not like a pouch, but on a kind of gusset. I’m sure there’s a term for that but i can’t think what it is.
I would really like to better my binding and piping skills. That piping is tricky!!
I too could use some brush up on piping, have never been very good at it.
I would love to become more proficient with bags and do some more advanced ones.
I’d love to learn to finish garments and accessories with professional looking hand stitches like the blind hem and such.
I would like to learn more about hardware on bags like rivets, eyelets, and grommets. I’d also like to try corded fabric handles.
I’d really like to try flat fell seams. I can’t believe I haven’t yet, but they look like a really nice finish.
I would like to branch out into sewing more bags and pouches.
I think I would like to branch out and try working with Leather/faux leather.
I’ve sewn many bags an d I love it. I’ve learned techniques from each bag I make. I will love to have time to experiment more and there’s always something new to learn.
I’d love to learn how to do piping!
I’d love to learn how to draft and resize patterns.
I want Sara’s book so badly! I want to make an advanced bag with neat pockets and extras. I’m on her tester email list, but I’ve never been able to offer to help out since she always requires such quick turnaround and I’m usually busy working on another deadline. I hope to be able to test for her one day though, but in the mean time, I’d love to have her book and make a new bag or two in my leisure time!
I’d love to start working with leather, period. I don’t have the needle for it though. I know that much! Nor the heavy duty machine!
I love sewing bags and have learned something new on almost every bag I’ve made. I’ve sewn several of Sara’s bags already and used purse feet and a zippered gusset for the first time. Love learning! Thanks for the giveaway.
I think I refer to her legendary interfacing post once a month at least. To answer your question, I will say strap hardware. I’ve never made anything with hardware, and I think it will make for a much more professional bag. I don’t have a pattern in mind, but I do look forward to trying it one of these days. Thanks!!
I want to get better with piping and zippers
I’d love to learn how to make more advanced bags with great details – I’ve done tons of reversible totes and a few zippered pouches… this book looks great!
I’ve made quite a few bags, but there’s always something new to learn isn’t there? Any new pattern is a challenge and that is what I enjoy about that next pattern/idea !!
How great! I’ve done purse sewing, but not as much recently. And I have not tried any of Sara’s patterns before. I think I need to do a purse with piping next. Not that I’m not already confident I could do it, I usually just pick styles I don’t have to hassle with. But piping does add such a nice design touch!
I’d love to try premade handles and framed pouches 🙂
I would like to learn everything
I have always wanted to work with leather and would love to try sewing a leather handbag.
I have sewn lots of bags including a couple of Sara’s so can vouch for how good her patterns are. I have never tried to make my own clothes though and would really love to learn all the smart dressmaking techniques that would enable me to turn out professional looking clothes!
I’m a quilt girl so bags are pretty scary. 🙂 But if I win this book I promise to try!
I would like to try piping to add that extra finished look.
I would love to be confident making any bag! I have the perfect fabric that is screaming ‘bag’ and I’m afraid to do it! Love this post! So inspiring!
I would like to try using more bag hardware as well as leather handles.
I’d like to try to attach leather handles and/or straps.
I’d love to try using leather handles and other bag hardware.
Greetings! I would love to learn tips for zippers. But I really like the wonderland purse and how do you get the handles on that purse and last how do you do the lining and inside pockets for a purse. Just learning to do small little bags. This would be a great help to learn more. Thank sew much!
I would love to learn to sew handle straps and how to put the piping at the bag!
I am thrilled that Sara’s book is so popular. I love her bag patterns and the way in which she writes them. I have made a few of her bags and have never been afraid to try something she suggests in her patterns because she describes the technique so well.
I would love to try shirring. My daughter wants a dress with shirring but I have never done it. (Sara – a bag with shirring???)
I would like to be more proficient at making bags ..
Love your blog and thank you for putting it out there for us in Cyberland !
I’ve only made basic bags and would love to learn about advanced bag making — Sara’s book looks like it would be just what I need!
I want to move beyond making simple bags. I want to make ones that have zippers and the cute little feet on the bottom. Thanks for the opportunity to win!
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never attempted a bag. I’ve made simple totes with fabric handles, but something about the pockets and zippers and handles is intimidating! It would feel like quite an accomplishment to create a read handbag!! Be blessed… and thanks for the opportunity to win this great book!
I would like to try piping. I actually received some supplies today so I’m on my way. Thx.
Zippers are my enemy. I tried to add one to a bag and it was an epic failure. Maybe next time.
I’d love to try to combine my quilting knowledge into wearable arts. I think that Sara’s bag book like a great place to start. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.
Love these bags. Would love to try working with leather handles!
Oh I’ve been waiting for this book to come out. I have yet to make any purse/bag but I really, really want to. I’m so tired of store bought ones and the idea that I could choose fabrics that I like is a huge plus. Thanks for the chance to win.
I love to sew bags and there is always something to learn! I think piping has always stumped me its never that neat and some o the bag hardware like rivets etc. thanks for the chance to win x
Sara seems so talented and hard working – so nice to see her success! I need to get better at zippers and try leather handles at some point 🙂 Thanks for the fun giveaway!
Would love to learn all those tricky zipper techniques!
Big City Bags here I come. I started sewing over a year ago and I love a challenge. I’ve made a few weekender bags that call for piping but I always skip that part. I love the look of piping and want to learn the technique. Is it fail- proof? Is it hard to get close to where I need to be without sewing it into the bag? I guess I should just go for it with a small project. Get my feet wet, already! What a great giveaway!
I’d really like to sew my own piping, I love the great finished look that piping gives to bags & pillows. Thanks for the chance to win this fantastic book.
I love Sara’s work and the bags in this book are beautiful. I really like the photo with her modeling, it makes the bag even more special! I would like to improve on zippers and try a frame purse, too!
Gorgeous bags! My sticking point is zippers. I’ve made some nice bags but without a zipper they’re a disaster when they topple over in my car!
I want to learn how to add pipping really well. I’m too nervous to try it, but I love the accent it creates on bags, so I think I’ll break down soon and give it a go. Thanks for hosting this awesome give away!
I get email from sarahs blog and I love watching and learning from her. Her bags are the best. I will make myself one of her bags in January. I have never made a purse or such so I am really looking forward to it. Thanks for a chance to win such a great book.
I would love to be able to do advanced sewing. I love Sarah’s bags & have had the privilege of working with her (a little) through my business & she is sew sweet. ; )
My Mom is a very advanced sewer so I know that if needed she would help me sew a couple bags if I win this book. Thanks for the opportunity!
Oh, my, what a wonderfull book – I want to sew all of the bags…. I did some bags in past and I want to expand my skills. Thank you for the opportunity to win this ebook.
I’d like to try adding piping to a bag. The bags I’ve made have been pretty straightforward… I’d love to add that extra detail!
I love to make bags, and I’ve made several, but I’ve always skipped any piping options. I need to tackle piping soon!
I would really like to try using those professional looking handles on a bag, I think the cool hardware really kicks the bags up a notch. Thanks for the giveaway 🙂
I want to learn to make more complicated bags/purses. I’m already a fan of Sara’s and have taken 1 class with her and taking another one in November, then in early 2015 she’s coming to my guild!! Thanks for the giveaway!
I would love to learn piping on bags and attaching leather handles. The bags in this book are beautiful!
What beautiful bags! I have only made zippered pouches but would love to make one of the lovely bags. Would love to learn how to put zippers in better, lining and all the fancy details. Thank you for a great giveaway!
I can’t wait for this book to come out. I am a relative newbie to bag making, so I can’t wait for the interfacing tips. The other things I would like to learn is piping and magnetic snaps. Thanks for the giveaway and the review.
I would like to try a more advanced bag, great giveaway!!
OH I just love these bags!! I wish I had time to make them all because I truly loves bags that much, my kids call me the bag lady!! One thing I have never added to a bag is a zipper because I’m fearful, it just looks so hard. I always add snaps which I like but I think it’s time to face my fear of zippers and just go for it!!
Thanks for the chance, Jessica
I want to learn how to do all the special finishing techniques, like leather straps, metal closures, etc.
I love that she has bags with piping. I’d love to try those!
I love making bags…would love to branch out to more advanced bags and possibly make my own patterns. Love Sara’s bags!!
Looks like a great book. It’s definitely piping for me too. I can never get it to look professional!
I’d like to try bags that are a bit more difficult than tote bags and drawstring bags which is mostly what I’ve made up till now.
I’m drawn to the classic, professional look of Sara’s bags and would love to try my hand at making one.
I’d love to get better with making bag handles.
I want to try out purse handles – the fancy leather kind.
Buttonholes are defo something I want to tackle, they just seem so intimidating, I’ve just got a straight stitch old machine so no fancy button will just do it for me.lol
I’ve made basic totes and installed zippers in a variety of clothing, but never in a bag. I’d like to learn that.
I really want to try FMQ. I think it is so pretty and I have only mastered straight lines so far.
I would like to become more proficient with handles and hardware for bags.
I have made quite a few bags but have never tried to put piping or leather handles, that’s what I would like to try.
I would like to try a framed purse.
Bags don’t scare me in the least, I love making them! The only thing I’ve never done is handsewing leather accents on… so I suppose that would be my thing to work on.
I’ve never attempted to make a bag but I have some great ideas on upcycling some from old sweaters and jeans, so I would need help with it all, zippers, straps, etc. Thanks for a great giveaway!
I really need to work on my zipper technique, I have never done purses with them yet.
I’d like to learn how to do shirring on baby items. It looks so sweet and delicate…something I’d love to do!
I’d like to learn and experiment with adding leather to a handbag – wither in corner trim or handles. I may need a better sewing machine though! I can’t wait to see this book in person – looks fab!
I’m not very successful with bias binding or piping sewing but I persevere and keep trying. Getting my sewing machine cleaned & serviced I hope will help. (sounds like a good excuse) Thanks for the giveaway and Sara’s bags rock!!! :0)
I did the amy butler weekender bag sewalong and have weak straps…which was very obvious this weekend when I was carrying around 30 pounds in it, so I’d love to be able to make strong straps!
congrats to Sara, I have one of her patterns and it’s great.
I would love to win this book, I love her patterns and I want to learn more about how to use hardware in the bags I make.
I have never sewn a bag but would like to make one that looks totally professional. I think this book could help me do that.
I would LOVE to win this book! I’ve made pouches and wristlets, but nothing with inside pockets or compartments, and nothing with ‘real structure’. I love Sara and have followed her wonderful bag making for a while now. Pick me!
I’m quite new to sewing and have never made anything outside of class, so that would probably be my first step!
I’ve been something of a bag making fool lately, and I would love to have some new designs to inspire me. I’d like to try the leather corners and trim on bags. I’ve never sewn with leather before, but they add such a beautiful finished touch. Thanks for the chance.
I’d love to work more with piping and try sewing pleather. Can’t wait to get this book!
I’d like to try working with more advanced bag hardware. Something beyond zippers, to make the bag look more professional. Can’t wait to see this book! Many thanks!
I would love to learn to sew with leather and make a great looking and functional leather bag! Thanks for the giveaway!
Pleats and tucks
I’d love to try to make a more structured bag and use purse feet, most of what I have made has been simpler totes.
Advanced bags in general, I’d say, but I can certainly use more practice with zippers! 🙂
I’d love to try more complex bags. I usually make really easy tote bag types, nothing to fancy. I’d love to branch out and learn new skills!
Buttonholes and zippers!
Purse straps are a challange you me… not a lot of places to get premade, and when I try my self they always turn out wonky!! LOL Would love to see more on purse straps!!!
I have sewn clothes and curtains, pillows, quilts and blankets, toys and sock monkeys, costumes and cat beds, but I have never sewn a purse. I am ready. It is time.
P.S. I learned about Sari Bari from your post earlier this year and make two quilts for the auction happening right now. One is being raffled and the other auctioned. Thank your for your post and thanks for the promotion. It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me.
I’d like to make some more advanced bags with proper handles and hardware to make them look really good 🙂
I would like to try leather handles. And D rings.
Sara’s directions are the best. I have made two of her bags, and since I am self taught I appreciate her complete directions.
I woult really like to sew the “Miss Independent Bag” with thes straps an binding.Thanls for the chance.
Purse straps and zippered pockets are a challenge, and I would also like to make my bags look more ‘professional’.
I would love to learn to do piping on a bag. It gives such a finished look.
Comments are closed.