Here at Media Molecule, we have stacks of wonderfully creative people making amazing things, both inside and outside of their work at Mm. We wanted to start sharing these amazing things in the form of ‘Mmakers’, our new blog series showcasing the awesome stuff that our Molecules make when they’re not in the studio!
Our first Mmaker is the lovely Sara Bravery, our HR Manager! When Sara’s not looking after the Molecules and handling recruitment requests, you will find her sat at her sewing machine making fabulous handbags and satchels! I asked Sara to tell us a bit more about her bags, what inspired her to start making them, and what is involved in the bag making process! Over to you Sara…
I had a yearning to do something creative, I work with creative people all day and I find it quite inspiring. I tried drawing, and quickly realised I wasn’t very good at it. I tried a few other things and then came up with the idea of getting a sewing machine and some sewing craft books and just having a go to see what I could do. I started out making some little iPad cases, pencil cases and place mats, cutesy little things, and one of the books I’d bought had a really simple bag pattern in it, a beach bag, so I had a go and loved it. Since then I think I’ve bought every book I can find on the topic and my house is now full of bags! Call me the bag lady! My bags are seriously taking over my house (which I guess is better than cats!!)
I’ve moved on from working with patterns and now make up my own ideas, shapes, styles, sizes etc. I get an idea in my head for something I’d like to try and have a go based on techniques I learned from using the books.
The last bag I made was for myself and was inspired by traditional satchels. I used my Personal Development Fund (which is an awesome perk of working at Media Molecule) to go on a leather satchel making course in London. The course was really inspiring, and I wanted to have a go at making fabric satchels at home.
First I decide what size I want the bag to be and what shape. Then I make a paper template (newspaper works the best) for the front part of the bag and the outer pocket if there is going to be one. Everything else can follow on from these 2 templates. I then cut the fabric (this is one of my favourite parts, I love the sound of the scissors cutting through the fabric!) :)
Before cutting the pattern pieces I always cut a strip of fabric from the longest edge of the piece to make a bag strap. Then I decide what kind of structure I’d like the bag to have. As this bag is loosely based on a satchel I wanted the front and back to be quite firm and the sides more flexible. The backing materials used for bag making are probably the most important part of the whole thing, without them the bag would be floppy and shapeless.
I use a few different grades of backing fabric ranging from very firm to very fine. My favourite is a Vilene Leather backer which gives almost any fabric the firmness of leather.
The first part is to put the front pocket together.
I’m using an inside out technique for this bag where you sew the bag outer together first, then the lining and then sew both parts together at the end. Before beginning to construct the pocket I place the male part of my fastener on the front of the pocket.
Once the pocket is sewn together it then needs to be attached to the front of the bag.
Then I can start to construct the rest of the outer part of the bag.
Next it’s time to think about the lining. For this one I wanted to pick out a colour from the polka dots on the front so I found an old bed sheet (no fabric is safe from the scissors in my house) which picked out one of the colours and used that with some fusible fleece lining to give it some substance. I wanted an inside pocket to hold my phone and some pens etc. This was made using the polka dot outer fabric so that it contrasts with the inside fabric and makes the pocket easy to locate in the bag. I also found these really handy little magnetic clasps that you can fit inside the bag to hold your keys (no more scrabbling around in the bottom of your bag to find them! Every bag should have one!)
The clasp easily pulls away from the magnet when you need to get your keys out and has been really useful. Once I have all of the pieces cut out and ready I first sew in the inside pocket and attach the key ring holder. Then sew all the pieces together leaving a 20 cm gap at the bottom for turning the bag the right way around at the end. This will eventually be inside the bag and can be hand sewn at the end.
Now it’s time to make the strap, for this bag I’m using rectangular ‘D’ rings and a slider so that the strap is adjustable in length. My ‘D’ rings are about 3.5 cms across on the inside edge so the strap needs to be 4 times that width so that it can be folded in on itself and doesn’t have a raw edge. This can then be set aside until the main body of the bag is complete. Next make the bag flap which needs to be long enough to accommodate the width (gusset) as well as meeting the clasp fastened earlier on the front pocket, the female part of the clasp can be fitted right at the end to allow the correct positioning. I then pin the inner, and outer bags together, right sides facing, position the flap between the two layers and pin in place. I make 2 small strips of the same width as the strap to use to anchor the ‘D’ rings to the body of the bag. These need to be pinned in between the top of the inner and outer gusset of the bag before they are sewn together. Once you have everything carefully pinned in place it’s just a case of sewing in a full circle all the way around the top of the bag. The next part is exciting as you see the bag take shape! Turn the whole bag inside out through the gap left earlier in the bottom of the lining, you will need to do some ironing at this point to make sure the top seams are flat and lined up nicely. Then top stitch all the way around the top of the bag to finish and add strength to the strap holders.
Thread the strap through the ‘D’ rings and stitch one end firmly back on itself. Then thread the slider along, fold the strap back through it and again stitch firmly in place. You are done, and have a nice new bag :)
Thank you Sara! It sounds pretty awesome making bags don’t’cha think? Sara definitely has a knack for it too; we’re all queuing up round here to get a custom Sara bag! You can never have too many bags :)
And that’s a wrap on our first Mmakers post; we hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you're a fellow bag maker, or if Sara has inspired you to crack out the needle and thread, let us know in the comments below!
We’ve got plenty more crafty and creative Molecules to share with you all over the coming months, from baking and house-building, to Warhammer armies and 3D printed creatures, you’re not going to want to miss it!