Authors: Lexie Barnes
18 PATTERN-FREE PROJECTS
YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE TO FIT YOUR NEEDS
This book is dedicated to all of my teachers — past and present, good and bad — for the valuable lessons they’ve passed on to me throughout my life.
And to my parents, Ramsay and Gary Klaff, for allowing me to learn things in my own way.
The mission of Storey Publishing is to serve our customers by
publishing practical information that encourages
personal independence in harmony with the environment.
Edited by Nancy D. Wood and Deborah Balmuth
Art direction, book design, and prop styling by Alethea Morrison
Text production by Liseann Karandisecky
Cover photographs by © Kevin Kennefick, except for back cover, lower left by Mars Vilaubi, and
author photo by Claire Folger
Interior photographs by © Kevin Kennefick, except for pages 63, 75 bottom, 76, and 123
by Mars Vilaubi
Decorative pattern illustrations by © Lexie Barnes
How-to illustrations by Christine Erickson
Technical editing by Janet DuBane
Indexed by Nancy D. Wood
© 2009 by Lexie Barnes
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages or reproduce illustrations in a review with appropriate credits; nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other — without written permission from the publisher.
The information in this book is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author or Storey Publishing. The author and publisher disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information. For additional information, please contact Storey Publishing, 210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247.
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Printed in China by SNP Leefung Printers Limited
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sew what! bags / Lexie Barnes.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-60342-092-1 (hardcover with concealed wire-o : alk. paper)
1. Tote bags. 2. Handbags. 3. Sewing. I. Title.
I would like to thank the following people:
The lovely folks on the
Sew What! Bags
team for their generosity, kindness, and beautiful work: Pam Art, Deborah Balmuth, Fran Duncan, Amy Greeman, Liseann Karandisecky, Kevin Kennefick, Susan Killam (and Maxwell!), Alethea Morrison, Sheri Riddell, Nancy D. Wood, and the entire Storey Publishing family.
The super sewers: Beth Boggia, Megan Englemann, and Tiffany Jewell for their invaluable contributions toward turning my designs into the projects in this book. And the tests sewers who kindly volunteered to try out all of the projects.
The fabulous people who work for and with the lexie barnes studio: Chris Gondek, Peter Irvine, Michael Kusek, Kim Lambert, April Slone, Amy Wright, all of our interns, and the amazing Jessica Ford.
My friends and colleagues for their support over the years: Kathy and Steve Elkins, Claire Folger, Naira Francis, Gina Frazier, Margot Glass, Holly Kesin, Holly Lawrence, Jeanette Malone, Jillian Moreno, Claudia Moriel, Barbara “Lady B” Neulinger and John Solem, Shannon Okey, Maggie Pace, Jacqueline Sava, Amy R. Singer, and Gina and Austin Wilde.
My family: Patti Barnes, Cheryl and Chuck Carson, Irene Hill, Ben Klaff and Emily Hermant, Adam Scheffler, Linda and Philip Scheffler, the recently departed and dearly missed Natalie “Nannie” Stiefel, and Mary “Mimi” Laing.
And especially: My wonderful husband Cory Barnes and our four sons, Henry, Sebastian, Montgomery, and Calvin, for their boundless patience, encouragement, and enthusiasm. I love you all!
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
There is nothing like creating something of your very own. The satisfaction born from having an idea — mapping out a plan, tackling the obstacles, and then, at last, holding up the finished product — is immeasurable. This book shows how to use your head, some basic materials, and your own personal style to create fabulous bags again and again — exactly the way you want them, without any patterns, templates, or fussy, stuffy rules to hem you in.
For my part, I can’t stand to read instruction manuals, stick strictly to a recipe, or follow the steps exactly as they are written anywhere. If there are too many steps, I’ll skip them. If the instructions are too wordy or full of jargon, I’ll ignore them and find my own way of doing things. In this book, from the first project to the last, you’ll be able to jump right in and start sewing. You’ll find simple steps and streamlined projects — fabulous bags you can make on your own to suit your taste, skill level, and style.
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 skydiving 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.
In a box somewhere is the very first, very ugly, yellow shirt I had to make for a costume class back in school. It’s awful. The experience was terrifying and the class was lousy. But in the end, no matter what it looks like, I made a shirt.
Knowing I could start and finish that project has paved the way for me to create a great many things over the years. If I had caved in to fear on that very first project, I never would have moved on to get where I am today. And if you had asked me back then if I thought I would end up a handbag designer, I would have laughed. The safety net will appear just when you need it. So jump.