Bag design is one of the most exciting sectors of the fashion industry but sewing them used
to be quite dull and dreary. If it wasn't a tote bag, there wasn't much to choose from!
These days there's a lot more options out there.
Here's our top 10 contemporary bags to sew

1. Retro Travel Bag
This has to one of my favourite bag PDF sewing patterns. It’s a good size at 20in x 11in high x 6in wide and perfect for a weekend away. The sewing pattern comes with step-by-step instructions and photos to help you make it up. It looks great in Oil Cloth or laminate fabric but it would look equally as good in medium weight quilting cotton too. There are options to make with shop bought handles or if you prefer to make your own straps, they are just longer enough to put over your shoulder when travelling. This PDF sewing pattern costs $7.50 and can be purchased from Polka Dot Chair here.

2. Shoulder bags
Burda 7223 features 3 contemporary shoulder bags including one with a bar tack fastener, one with a flap opening which looks great made in contrasting fabrics plus  another a little bigger with flap and compartments for your mobile phone.  These bags are unisex and the sewing pattern has patterns for 2 protective slipcovers for iPads and notebooks. Pattern costs £5.85 and is available from the Simplicity here.

3. Laptop bags
This sewing pattern (Simplicity 3889) has been in Simplicity’s craft collection for a while, probably due to its versatility. It has 5 different bag styles to choose from including an envelope style for a tablet as well as ones with compartments and straps. I like the shopping bag one as it contains a separate padded storage for your tablet. This sewing pattern costs £5.65 and can be bought from Simplicity here.

4. Tri-fold Wallets
It’s hard finding a purse that has all the necessary pockets these days. Susie D Designs specialises in bag sewing patterns but also all the accessories you need to construct them too. A favourite of mine is her Tri-fold Purse which has 4 credit card pockets, a pocket for notes and notebook pocket. Instructions include 2 different types of fasteners so whatever your sewing ability you’ll be able to make – choose from a sew-on Velcro or magnetic snap closure. This PDF pattern is priced at £5.99 and can be bought from SusieDesigns here.

5. Blanche Barrel Bag
This gorgeous barrel shaped bag from Swoon comes in 3 different sizes: 10 ½in, 12in and 14in wide from Swoon. Described as rockabilly-inspired, this bag features a large side pocket, zip up compartment in the lining for storing your lippy safely plus a removable cross the body strap making it very functional as well as stylish. The PDF version is $5.95 and the printed version is $9.95 and can be bought from Swoon sewing patterns here.

6. Metro Hipster
This cross-body bag is practical and fashionable and has a roomy bellows pocket with a top flap and closure, while the top of the bag has a recessed zip and shoulder strap allowing the bag to hang close to the body so its perfect around town bag. Inside there’s a padded pocket in the lining, which will fit most iPads so it’s quite a roomy bag. Designed by Betz White, a well-known name in the sewing industry. Metro Hipster is priced at $12.95 and available as a PDF download here.

7. Slouchy backpack
The slouch backpack sewing pattern is a collaboration between fabric designer Bonnie Christine and pattern maker Maxine Ramey. The hands-free rucksack has been designed for beginners to intermediate and can be made in one afternoon. The pattern is great for mixing up fabrics, and is shown here in fabrics that Bonnie designed for Art Gallery Fabrics (Sweet as Honey and Winged). It comes with a supply list, helpful hints and easy to follow illustrations. Priced at £7.03, it’s available from the Sweet Bonnie Christine shop on Etsy here.

8. Saddle Bag kit
I met this company at one of the trade shows a few years back and the collection of bag kits has grown. This satchel style bag is a little bit unusual and is made in smooth leather and features 2 tier pockets with buckle fastening plus a long strap that’s adjustable and can be worn cross body. The kit includes all of the leather you need, plus all the pieces are pre-cut and pre-punched so there’s no fiddly cutting out. Simple Way patterns also include the special needle, thread and instructions for working with leather. Available in six colours (tan relax, distressed brown, lipstick, lime, black and brown Mareno) and priced at £43 here.

9. Pop Over Purse Clutch
This is one of the latest bag patterns from Lisa Lam of U-Handbag.com and shows just how easy it to use sew-in purse frames. I really like the look of this purse pattern and what’s great about it is its convertible. This purse frame bag can be worn as a bag or clutch. The slightly padded neatly folds as a clutch or open it up and it works well as a day bag. The pattern booklet costs £7.00 and can be bought from U-Handbag.com here.

10.  Butterfly Mugbag
This is a really sweet little bag project from Red Brolly, and made especially for transporting your favourite mug wherever you go. It’s small enough to place in your work bag and padded to prevent the mug from breaking and enough room for a biscuit or two! It’s a great project to make for yourself or give as a gift, and looks wonderful in modern cotton fabrics. Pattern can be downloaded free at Red Brolly here.


Julie Bonnar