6 March 2020

How to make a bag - Review of the Sadie Expandable Bag sewing pattern from Swoon

* Affiliate link - see post bottom

This week I have something special for you: A current project, which I have just finished last week. Finally new stuff, that's not already been worn to death! Yay!

Last week I told you I have been working on three different projects, so obviously it's one of them. In fact, it's the most important of the three: a new bag!
Read on to learn how to start making bags and what I have to say about Swoon sewing patterns.

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things front snap closure bagmaking

As I said and showed in my post last week, my old bag - which I have used for many years - finally broke down and looks awful so I started making the Sadie Expandable Bag* using the sewing pattern from Swoon. I had already all layers interfaced and added closures and pockets, so I just needed to put the layers together - which sounded like a lot less work than it actually was.

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things back pocket snap closure
Back pocket with snap closure (and dragon)

This week I educated myself about the interfacing this pattern calls for, which I simply ignored. I used the one type of woven interfacing I have at home, which I bought for my wool Rumana coat (not blogged yet). It's quite thin, but gives nice stability. Judging from photos on Google it looks a lot different to the "Pellon Shapeflex SF101" the pattern calls for. Honestly I don't have much idea about interfacing in general. I've used the one type I own on several projects and it always seemed good enough for me. But of course I understand why different types exist and it's great to have a variety to choose from.

The pattern does also call for something else: fusible fleece. It's meant to be fused on to the main front and back pieces. But I didn't have that, I didn't care to wait for an online order to arrive and I didn't want to have to travel to the next cities to try and get some - assuming the local shops have it. Which they don't, as I found out this week - the two nearest shops told me they have been waiting for their orders for several weeks now, so there seems to be difficulties in delivery anyways.
So, my bag does not have fusible fleece. On those parts needed, I put another layer of my thin woven interfacing instead. Obviously it doesn't keep the shape as well as it would with the thick fleece (I assume), but the bag doesn't collapse on its own (surprise...) so it's good enough - since it's my first try and also just some cheap cotton fabrics. This bag won't hold many years anyways.
This is just in case you can't - for whatever reason - get the materials the pattern calls for. If you can, get them. But it's no drama if you don't. Worst case is it won't work and you'll learn something.

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things lining inside
Inside lining

Typical me, of course there's something else I did not use as the pattern wants me to: the closure. I don't like magnetic snaps, in fact I highly dislike them and I had no idea how to add a zipper to something I never constructed before - so I chose to use these 15mm press fasteners from Prym, which I had at home and seemed good to use. For my next bag I haven't decided yet, if I keep using snaps, or choose a different closure. I love snaps and zippers, but I also like to try new stuff. We'll see about that!

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things snap closure lining inside pocket details
Inside pocket & snap closure

So yes, I'll definitely make more bags. This was just a first try after all! And I still have these georgous pleather fabrics lying around, waiting to be used...
Will it be another Sadie? Quite possibly! The pattern is awesome, let me tell you that. Such clear instructions, very easy to understand. All pattern pieces have numbers, so you just can't mix up any parts when sewing them together. The only problem was with the zipper: The pattern calls for a 50cm zipper, and the zipper I used is 50cm long, from opening to stopper, but it seems this is just slightly too short. Next time I would use 55cm.

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things zipped expansion open
Zipped expansion

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things zipped expansion closed
Zipped expansion

Instead of the rectangle rings to attach the handle I used 30mm metal o-rings, which I originally got to make a dog leash, but I haven't made the leash yet and will probably do so with other materials. For my next bag, when I use the pleather, I'd use metal rivets to further secure the stitching and also because it just looks good, let's be honest. All the fabrics are 100% cotton, leftovers from other projects and just stuff I wouldn't use for clothing anymore.

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things metal o-rings handle attachment
30mm metal o-rings are used to attach the handle

I've been following Swoon's Facebook-group for a while now, where people post all their beautiful creations. I must say, I'm amazed. So many beautiful bags! I also noticed, how awesome the designer is. I often see designers claiming that you are not allowed to sell items made using their patterns. I never understood why, as I believe end customers do not care about the patterns at all. But Swoon is different, they feel the same as me and I love that. They say: Feel free to sell your bags made with this pattern!
By the way, join their fb-group for a discount code!

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things zipper expansion big
Zipped expansion, half open to show the size difference

About the construction: I've seen a lot of people having trouble with the rather tight curves at the corners of bags. Looking at their photos I believe they often do not know how to deal with the seam allowance correctly. It is most important to clip or notch the seam allowance at curves - especially with woven fabrics, especially on tight corners.
In short: Concave curves need to be clipped, convex curves need to be notched. Clipping means just one cut right to the seam, but be careful to never catch the thread. Notching means taking out a wedge of seam allowance, again right to the seam, but not through the thread.
For a longer explanation and example photos I recommend this post from Itch to Stitch.

Also, since bags tend to have rather thick layers, I highly recommend to trim the seam allowances to minimize bulk. Yes, it's more work and yes, you have to be careful, but I promise, it is absolutely worth it!

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things ruler size reference length
Bag with a cm-ruler for size reference

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things ruler size reference expansion zipper
Bag with a cm-ruler for size reference

I wasn't sure if my sewing machine, a Brother innov-is 10 A, would work well with bags. But even the 6 layers with interfacing at the handles were quite fine to sew and that is amazing. So far, belt straps were the only thing my sewing machine didn't want to sew well. I also must add, my new clapper was most important too and added a lot to the beautiful finish. Without it I could never get such crisp edges. I never thought this thing would be so important and useful, in fact I doubted if it works at all - and I was wrong, so wrong! I'm really glad I finally decided to get one and I highly recommend it to every sewist, no matter what items you create!

Next up on my project list is to finish my Fumeterre maxi skirt, then make the Lolita underbust corset I've been dreaming of for a while now. As usual though, I can't guarantee there won't be anything else jumping up my priority list. So far I'm quite motivated to sew currently and taking sewing time almost every day makes me happy. Since this weeks post worked so well (regarding organizing, photos and such) I think I'll try posting new stuff every now and then. It's just nice to show recent projects and not only old stuff that's almost worn-out when I finally get to post about it.

Anyways, stay tuned, as I'm determined to make more bags soon!

swoon sadie expandable bag sewing pattern minn's things pinterest

* This post contains affiliate links. If you order something using my links I will get a percentage. This does not cost you anything. Thanks for your support!



  1. Love the bag! It never occurred to me that I could sew one (that sounds so silly, right?). Love the bag. Looking forward to the next ones.

    1. Thanks Paula! Not silly at all, I say we're just not used to make our stuff by ourselfs anymore. I only realized it, because someone I follow on insta made a beautiful bagpack! So, let's inspire each other :)