Book Review: Sew What! Bags

Sew What! Bags: 18 Pattern-Free Projects You Can Customize to Fit Your Needs Sew What! Bags: 18 Pattern-Free Projects You Can Customize to Fit Your Needs by Lexie Barnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was sitting at a cafe’ when I started looking at this book. I glanced through it first and decided that I liked the format and the layout, but wasn’t enamored of the projects. I didn’t see any of the bags that I thought were useful looking.

“Listen to the Mustn’ts child, listen to the Don’ts.
Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, anything can be.”
-Shel Silverstein

That poem is how the text of the book started. It grabbed my attention and changed my idea about the book. I didn’t see it at first, because the color of the text was invisible in the glare of the cafe’ light. I looked through it a little more slowly and found that it is a book with really good bones. There are projects at the end that look useful and I would make, including a messenger bag and a wall organizer with pockets. I think the best part is that the author shows the reader how to think about bag making. The idea is not all about making her bags.

I, first, heard about this book on the Quilted Cupcake podcast. I wrote about in one of my summer catch up posts. I finally got it from the Library using Link+, a better, faster and more convenient way of getting interlibrary loans. It actually works for real people! Thank you, SFPL!!!

“A note on fear: It’s okay to be afraid to start a project. It’s okay to read the book for a while or just look at the pictures until you feel ready to jump in. The trick is that you have to jump in at some point. Like swimming or sky diving or picking up a pencil for the first time – like anything worth doing – you have to start somewhere. Start today. Start now. Don’t worry about getting it right or making the perfect bag. It’s likely that the first thing you make may not be perfect….but you will still treasure it. … the safety net will appear just when you need it. So jump.”

This note cemented my initial idea about the book. I thinkt he safety net comment is a good one to keep in mind.  The tone of the book is really friendly and accessible and she has some great overarching ideas about making bags, such as “Build a bag from the inside out.” Another thing Lexie Barnes discusses is the length of the straps. I have been making the Eco Market tote with 54″ straps. 54″ fits me and works with the pattern. They go almost all the way around the bag and are sewn into the bottom of the bag seam. This reminder is good because I may want to make a bag where the straps do not go all the way around the bag. I also like the paragraph on designing pockets (pg.15), because it gives the maker practical ideas about making useful pockets. The section called “Graph, Paper, Scissors”  discusses using graph paper (pg.14) to design a completely new bag to scale. I immediately drew a preliminary drawing (not to scale!) a for a saddle type bag.

I am going to spend some more time with this book.

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