Monday 12 November 2018

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics ~ Book Review

I was given a copy of the book in return for writing a review.

A month ago now I told you I had a couple of book reviews to share with you. Here is the first of them today - Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi. To review the book properly, I've sewn up one of the bags, which has given me the chance to try out a pattern, follow instructions and see how easy it is to find the required information.

Book review ~ Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics

That's the bag I made sitting underneath the book. It's not the type of fabric the author had in mind for her bags, but that's the beauty of sewing your own bags - you can put your own spin on it. 

I was initially drawn to the linen grocery bag, with embroidered pocket, on the front cover. The bag folds up for easy carrying, into the pocket - a great design, but not the bag I ended up sewing.

I'm 100% happy with the pattern I currently use to sew up all my grocery bags - much better for me to make something totally different, and there was plenty to choose from.

The book contains 22 unique bags, with 60 variations, such as multiple sizes, appliqu├ęs, straps, pockets and embellishments.

The bags in the book are designed to be sewn by hand. Yes, you read that right - sewn by hand. I take my hat off to anyone who can sew a bag by hand.

It's not that I can't hand sew. That's how I learnt to sew at school - everything was sewn by hand for the first three years, even a peasant skirt. And in recent times, I've hand sewn a zipper into a Half Moon Patchwork Pouch.

But if I'm sewing a bag, I'm looking at speed, which means my sewing machine. As you can see above...
most steps (in the book0 can be completed by machine.
If I hadn't read the title, and the excerpt above, I'd just assume they were all meant to be machine sewn. There were no problems at all machine sewing the bag I chose.

Full size pattern pieces are include for many of the bags. Measurements are given for those bags that are just rectangles

Tracing the patterns was very easy. Patterns include all the usual markings you would expect - grain line, fold, darts, pleats, etc.

Included in the book is...
  • one page glossary
  • one page on interfacings and wadding (batting)
  • one page on handles and straps
  • two pages on sewing basics

Two of the bags each have a two page lesson, the same as an online tutorial, with colour photos and directions for each step.

All other bags have instructions, as above, with clear diagrams and easy to read instructions for each step. The sewing basics even includes a section on how to interpret the diagrams.

And that's the bag I made - #12: the Puff-out Tuck Bag. You'll have to wait for my next post to see it, though. I'll devote a whole post to it. It's worth it!!

Everything about making the bag was straightforward - from tracing the bag to following the instructions. Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics contained all information in an easy to read manner.

You might be wondering how I've found the time to sew. Two months down the track, Mum's still in hospital, and life is hectic, but, I finished sewing the bag before Mum's accident. It's taken me all that time to take photos and write up this review.

Stay tuned for photos of the Puff-out Tuck Bag. No promises as to how soon I'll be able to get to it, but it'll be worth the wait, both to see the bag, and to see how it's going to be used.

... Pam

Edited to add: See the finished bag...


  1. Hi Pam,

    It seems to be an interesting bag book...I am curious about your bag that you have sewn according to the instructions of the book. Thank you for the book presentation!

    Greetings Klaudia

  2. Looks like a neat bag, but heavens (!) to be hand-sewing a bag would be punishment that I would not sign up for... LOL! Looking forward to seeing your creation.

  3. A bag book with full size patterns is a winner for me, would balk at hand stitching a bag too Pam :)

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