Making Bags: A Field Guide

by Jessica Barrera Sallie Tomato

I was very excited to be asked to review Jessica’s new book. Immediately I was impressed by the beautiful photography, however this book is much more than that.

In Jessica’s introduction we are given an insight into her sewing journey and what led her to where she is today, as well as talking about the book itself.

The book is broken down into 3 chapters or “Parts”. Part 1 is all about “Bag Basics”.

In the first section of Part 1, we are taken on an exploration of all the different types of bags and their potential uses.

The next section is all about fabrics and interfacings. Not only does Jessica describe the fabric types, but she also advises on which needle size and style to use for each fabric as well. I think this is a very handy addition as many people find needle selection difficult (or they ignore it all together). Using the correct needle can really make a huge difference to how much you will enjoy sewing your bag.

Within this section she also explains the various interfacing/stabiliser types and support materials used in bags. A great resource if you are new to making bags and aren’t sure what is what!

Making Bags- A Field Guide ©2023 by Jessica Barrera
©2023 by Jessica Barrera – Create professional-looking bags to fit your style and practical needs with guidance on bag-making techniques, materials, and types. You can make trendy baguette bags, duffle bags, saddle bags, and more!

There is a section dedicated to bag making hardware, explaining the different types and their applications. A section on zippers and lastly in Part 1, we take a look at the notions and tools commonly used in bag making.

Part 2 is “Key Skills”. The first section of this part takes a look at the various parts of a bag and its purpose. Next is a section on shaping and structure explaining more in depth usage of the interfacings and stabilisers and shaping techniques for bags. There is a section on closure types, as well as pockets, straps and handles.

There is also a section on how to care for your bags and then the second part ends with Jessica’s “Top Ten Tips” for bag making and maintenance.

Next up is Part 3: “Projects”. This is the fun part! There are 5 projects in the book. The first one, rated “Novice” are some quilted pouches in 3 sizes, including a fun tassel.

Making Bags- A Field Guide ©2023 by Jessica Barrera
©2023 by Jessica Barrera

Many people start their bag making journey with a pouch as it is a simple and quick project and perfect for anyone new to making bags.

Pattern pieces aren’t provided, which may be a disappointment to some, however all measurements are given for easy cutting with a rotary cutter and mat.

The second project on offer is rated “Beginner” and is the “Fold-Over Crossbody Bag”. The third project included is rated “Beginner” and is aptly named “Beginner’s Tote”.

Making Bags- A Field Guide ©2023 by Jessica Barrera
©2023 by Jessica Barrera

The fourth project to build on your skills, is rated “Intermediate” and is the “Hobo Bag”. This project has one pattern template for a curved piece.

The fifth project is another “Intermediate” project and is for a “Handbag”.

Making Bags- A Field Guide ©2023 by Jessica Barrera
©2023 by Jessica Barrera

At the back of the book is a complete index and also a “Supplies & Resources” page to help you locate the supplies talked about within the book. There is also a bio page about Jessica, too.

Making Bags- A Field Guide ©2023 by Jessica Barrera
©2023 by Jessica Barrera

Overall, I really like this book. The photography is beautiful and on point and any line drawings are clear. The step-by-step instructions are basic with line drawings as opposed to photographs, but given the projects are not difficult, they should suffice for most people. It’s a great resource for beginners and more seasoned sewists alike. The projects themselves look stylish and are not long hard sews, so I think they would appeal to a wide range of bag makers.

The book has a soft cover with a special glued binding that allows the book to open completely when you are reading and there are 143 pages. You can buy the book here:


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