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Embroidery Tips Wearables

Design handbags to highlight your best features!

Recently, we just finished the cover of the next issue of Designs.  All I can tell you is it features one really styling handbag!  So it got me thinking about making more handbags—something I just love to do!

I’ve made dozens of bags over the years and have learned a few things along the way and not all were about construction.

I’ve learn that different bags look better on different body shapes.  Not every retail location has a full length in the accessory department but they should because the shape of some bags can look dowdy on some figure types.  Here’s a brief guideline on what looks best on what figure type.

  • Short and Thin Ladies – Go for a small shoulder bag that hits your body below the bust but above the waist. Any petite bucket, shallow and wide totes, and sling bags will complement your figure.
  • Well-endowed Figures – Wear a flat backpack or long shoulder bag to draw attention away from your bust. Tote a hobo or sling bags to finish your look.
  • Inverted Triangles  – Carry a bag that hits at your waist instead of the hips to draw attention to a narrower area. Sling bags and totes that are deep and narrow work best.
  • Tall Femmes – Make yourself look more proportional by sporting a handbag that hits at your hips and features a long shoulder or double strap. Look for bucket bags, hobos, and shallow and wide totes.

Keep in mind that scale is extremely important in accessories.  Today’s ridiculously oversized bags look well, just that—oversized—on many figures.  They pretty much remind me of the diaper bags I had to tote for four years two decades ago. Boy was I glad to be done with them! That’s the diaper bags not the children!

Try on a handbag – in front of a full length mirror, you’ll see what I mean. Don’t be a slave to fashion – make it work for you!

Tell me what you think about this new trend in oversized bags.  Love them?  Despise them?  Want to make one?  Do they remind you of diaper bags? Do you think they’ll come with wheels next season? Leave a comment and get a chance to win a copy of my Embroider It Yourself Boatload of Bags CD.  You’ll find four great patterns for four very different bags all featuring my functional embroidery technique – embroidery that not only looks good but works, too.

Tell me what you think about this new trend in oversized bags.  Love them?  Despise them?  Want to make one?  Do they remind you of diaper bags? Do you think they’ll come with wheels next season? Leave a comment and get a chance to win a copy of my Embroider It Yourself Boatload of Bags CD.  You’ll find four great patterns for four very different bags all featuring my functional embroidery technique – embroidery that not only looks good but works, too.

You can check out the product here!

The winner of our soft tear-away stabilizer from last week is….Betsy!
on June 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm | My grandma taught me to sew many, many years ago but I kind of lost interest after my children grew up and didn’t want to wear Mom’s hand-made clothing anymore. I recently treated myself to a fabulous embroidery machine. OMG, every feature is my favorite and I have discovered the joy of sewing all over again. If I had to pick just a couple of features, the needle threader and thread cutter are “the cat’s meow”, as Grandma would have said. It will take a while to learn everything this machine can do but I’m grateful to sites like yours that give me a lot of tips and ideas.
Congratulations, Betsy!

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  • Claudia Wade

    I actually really love the oversized bags so popular now….more area to embellish and I don’t have to be so careful exactly how I load it…everything will fit no matter how I shove it in there! I don’t think people usually notice if the bags are out of proportion to your body or not, they are just the style now. They probably aren’t the most flattering look for me as I am short and rounded, but I love big bags anyway!

    • Sonia Klein

      OK. Can I just quit my job now and sew all day???? I would love to try these bags. There just never seems to be enough time in the day. So many ideas, so little time……….

  • sharon kruml

    I love making handbags. All Kinds of Handbags. I can always find someone who will love the gift of one. And it seems like my fabric stash multiplys at night. The naughty little things must be procreating. Because it is certainly growing, and I keep telling my husband that honestly I am not buying all of that fabric{tee hee my fingers were crossed besides some is given to me. ) The bigger the purse the better maybe thats why my back hurts, do you think? But I sure would love to win. I never do, but I keep hoping. Thank you.

  • Katy Calicchia

    I love the trend in large bags, my desire to fill the entire bag is, however, not the best thing for my shoulders.

  • Charlotte Jess

    Although I can no longer carry oversized bags (due to a neck surgery many years ago) I love to make them. I have daughters and granddaughters who just love them. The most fun I had was making the beach type bags out of screening. I used dangling beads on ribbon around the top edge on a few of them. One bag had so much fuzzy yarn on it that my poor granddaughter got it all over her uniform at school. One of my nieces wanted one with pockets in it for a “cooler” to take to the beach. I never quite got around to that one. I made myself a small version, put my very small purse and water and snacks in it and took it into jury duty! It was great…..
    I think the next thing I would like to create would be a really fun and lightweight backpack. The one I use for trips is nylon and just plain ole black.
    Thanks for reading………………..

  • Hope Kehrhahn Hyatt

    I prefer small bags, the weight and bulk of the bigger bags are too much for me.

  • Betsy

    I don’t carry the large bags because I’d keep filling it with stuff and never be able to find anything in it when needed. The only time I seem to notice someone carrying one is when it overpowers the person. Then I wonder, what on earth is in there!? Yes, they’re great for the beach and outings but really not necessary for everyday wear….Unless it really IS a diaper bag!

  • Denise

    I do love the large bags but not for every situation! I prefer small bags for shopping trips or if it is all day event. A big purse is great if you are going on a picnic or to the beach you can put those extra’s in that you may need. Embroidery would be easier on a large bag but with the right design you can give a classy one of the kind look!

  • Greta

    I do not like big bags! I finally got rid of my diaper bag 4 years ago after carrying one for 6 years. I do not want to even look like I might be carrying another diaper bag so shy away from anything that even resembles in the slightest! My new bag is a small leather wristlet, it is a little too small for most times but is great when I am shuttling the kids from place to place. I am trying to find the perfect bag (if there is such a thing).


  • Diane

    Even though I am a grandmother I guess I never gave up the diaper bag carrying life.
    I carry everything that everyone needs or may need in my purse. 🙂 You will find my items, items for grandchildren (they may fall and need medical items) things for my husband; should he need something, personal care items just in case anyone I come in contact with needs something. ( I know I’m an obsessed care giver here). But all will be taken care of and the purse holds the magic.
    In small amounts of course so as not to be too heavy to carry.
    A smaller purse is made for gifts. Teenagers love the smaller purse (they only carry make up and money. Tee Hee Hee) Gift #2=Older grandmothers can only carry small purses because of the weight. Gift #3= Little girls, they only carry tiny finds and important toy items.
    I went into a famous store one time and picked up a $400 purse. Nearly fainted and then said to the husband “What the heck? We can make that in Embroidery Club! And make it look better with Embroidery!
    Purses sustain a womans sanity and daily life. Purses make a woman who she is.

  • Gail Beam

    I love big bags! My children think I carry everything but the kitchen sink in my purse, and they are probably close! If they need a safety pin, bobby pin, elastic band for their hair, a bandaid and neosporin, advil, lotion, paper clip,and so on are just some of the many items in my purse! I like to be prepared!! gggg

  • Phyllis F

    As someone who spent the last ten years traveling I wouldn’t like too oversized a bag. The most important thing to me is the weight of the bag, not the size. If you are carrying it around an airport for hours, you do not want your shoulder to hurt. I like a shoulder bag because I am also pulling a lap top on wheels case.

  • Penny Kitzmiller

    Thank you for such a great blog. I enjoy reading all of the new news and seeing the great new projects. I love all of the bags, I need to be working on a diaper bag right now but I am here on the computer. lolol I would like to be entered in the drawing for the free bags. Well I better go and get back to my sewing……

  • Mitzi Barker

    I use both small and large bags at the same time – the actual “purse” is a trendy tiny bag that can be stashed in the bigger one, which also carries a multiplicity of other essential stuff, up to and including my laptop. One of the big advantages of creating your own “big bag”, other than the creative opportunities, is the weight of the bag being significantly less than leather or vinyl versions from your local retailers.

  • Cy Swendsen

    I like small bags, but have to carry a big bag. I have so many things I cant “do without”. I am the go to girl if ever you need a bandaid, otc pain reliever, pin,pen,pencil, tweezers, scissors, small flashlight, Plus I have to carry and epipen, and asthma inhaler, calendar to plan (daughter’s wedding stuff)… and always a book for those times I am waiting on someone or thing. Boy do I wish I could “pare down”, but everytime I try I need something I have left out.

  • Barbara Kratz

    I definitely do not like the large handbags. I use to carry everything I did not need in my purses, but as I grew older,I realized I was much more comfortable if I only carried essential items in my purse. I enjoy making all my purses now and embroidering designs or monograms on them. I also found that the purses I make are much lighter than ones made of leather I used to buy. I have received many compliments on my bags since each one is a one of a kind.

  • Vicki Z

    I didn’t carry a purse until about 20 years ago. I liked having my hands free. Instead I opted for a small wallet that fit into my pocket on a daily basis. Whenever I did something that involved carrying extra items I wore a back pack. Over the years my purses have grown in size to meet my needs. With all the technology we now have access to our needs have changed.

    You can buy a computer that will fit in your purse. There are modems (dongles) that give you access to the internet in most areas of the United States. You can carry a pocket sized movie camera to compliment the snap camera in your cell phone. Then there are I-Pods and MP3 players to fill any waiting time with music. Everyone is going green now days. It is nice to have a purse large enough to hold the odd purchase or two. And lets not forget the crafters… If the purse is not filled with crafting materials the larger sized purses provide a larger area for embriodery, felting, applique or fabric painting. How do I feel about it all?

    I say you should go with what is most comfortable for you and makes you happiest. Will there be bags with wheels on them in the near future? Probably. Would I be among the first to purchase one? Could be. I can think of a number or reason for and against the idea. In keeping with the green theme I would like to see them create the wheeled part to be durable and universally fit any purse or bag keeping down costs and staying out of the landfills.

    I enjoy making things. Purses and bags are a great venue for the use of one’s creative energies. What a great way to express yourself.

  • Darla Newton

    I, too, used to carry a larger bag and had everything that was ever needed in it. Now though due to a chronic pain problem I find the smaller the better, and in fact, often use a “belly bag” that fastens at the waist that I use to carry to travel. I wish I could find patterns for them to embellish and make. This way my hands are free if I fall and I am not carrying around the weight that I use to. Thanks for a great blog. I am really enjoying it.

  • Carol S

    I don’t like big bags. The bigger the bag the more
    I carry around,to heavy for me.
    I make my bags now. I find that they are lighter and I make them small to medium size.

  • Jean Guenther

    I love the look of large bags, but only carry a small one. If I carry a large one I put so much junk in there that my shoulder gets sore. My solution is to use the larger bags as knitting bags. ….. Yarn is light!

  • Wendy M

    Like many others, I love the look of oversized bags; however for everyday use I carry a small bag – but fear not it will be a bag with style regardless of the size!

    I’ve recently started making purses and I am hooked!!! Sometimes I incorporate embroidery like the Red Hat purse I made for my grandmother and other times, I let the fabric & bag shape be the star of the show.

    The last bag I made was a happy accident as it turned out much smaller than I was looking for & with a few modifications it became a cosmetic bag.

    One $$$ saver I’ve come up with is to go through my purse/bag collection to see what I no longer use that is salvageable and recycle the closures, handles and zippers for my new bags.

  • Paule-Marie

    I have a love-hate affair with big bags. I am short but heavy. Small purses just don’t have enough room, but I overload the really big purses. I am still trying to come up with just the right size (sort of like Goldilocks).

  • Alice M

    I always love a big bag the bigger the better. Always carrying things for the hubby, grandkids and for work. So have to have a big bag. Haven’t really made to many of my own bags. Would like to give it a try if I could find a very simple pattern.

  • Katrina

    I love oversized bags! They make a statement, and when you have a lot of stuff to carry they are wonderful!

  • JoAnne Bell

    I love seeing a lady who looks great with a large bag enjoying it.

    While I love the extra embroidery space, and thus being able to be more creative, I don’t use the large bags myself. However big a bag is, I fill it up. The weight in larger bags causes me problems with my shoulder and hips.

    But to play when making a large bag and then see it on a lady who can really go with the look makes my day.

  • Karen Meyer

    I really enjoy making embroidered bags – it just thrills me when someone loves something that I created just for them – your website is full of terrific ideas – thank you for making the world beautiful one stitch at a time!

    Love ya,

    P.S. I want to win something!

  • Sherie

    I HATE the oversized bags! Some of them are bigger than diaper bags! I need to carry a lot of stuff , but not the kitchen sink as well.. I like the medium to small bags depending on where or what I am doing. A tote works fine if something larger is needed.

  • Carol

    I do not like oversize bags, the bigger the bag the more junk I seem to carry!!!

  • Debbie Harmon

    I don’t care for the diaper sized bag. If I carry a large purse I carry a lot of stuff, plus my husband asks me to carry things for him! With a small bag, I leave a tote in the car with anything else I need.

  • Joan

    How intriguing to see your Boatload of Bags CD… I love over-sized bags and since I am tall, I totally agree that viewing myself in a mirror with one confirms that it is exactly “right for me”. Now that I have my embroidery machine, I can make and embellish my bags as I’d like and even look forward to creating special bags for my daughters and daughter-in-law.

  • Sammie

    I love the big bags but not to use a my purse. I carry a bag that is large enough to hold my driver’s license and credit card only. I had a friend who was dragged across a parking lot by someone trying to take her purse.
    I do use large bags to carry things back and forth to my car for work or trips and things. My DL and credit won’t be in it.

  • Carol

    I LOVE big bags but I am small and thin and they probably are not the best for me appearance wise, but they hold everything I need and don’t look like I packed the kitchen sink. Plus there is usually a place for everything so I can keep it more organized and find what I am looking for. Also leaves a lot more area to embroider!

  • Sylvia

    I like how the large bags look, generally on younger girls. I once purchased one and my fashion police daughter said it was too young for me! If I get a larger bag I just seem to fill it and cannot find anything in it but when I carry a mini bag I find I don’t have everything I need!

  • JoAnne

    I love to design and sew bags, totes and purses of all different sizes. I feel size depends on the purpose of the bag. For everyday use, I think a small to medium bag is all that is necessary and looks great on everyone . A large overstuffed bag can create the look of disorganization and untidyness; not an image that most of us want to display. However, for the business woman an attractive large bag to carry her computer and other necessary items presents a smart, sophiscated look.

    I feel that all bags most be clean, well maintained and carried neatly to present a positive fashion statement!

  • Favy M.

    Regarding the size of handbags, I’m also a Goldilocks. I know I don’t care for ittty bitty bags, but with them you can’t carry too much stuff (and don’t have to root around for it either!) I like the convenience of carrying a large bag since they hold “my life” when I’m far from home. the downside is being able to locate all my stuff in a big bag.
    I love to make my own handbags, so I’m always trying out new solutions!

  • Linda Kwolek

    I see over size handbags making a comeback. Just when I got rid of the diaper bag comes the mommy’s bag. No thank you kids, stick YOUR stuff in your own pockets.

  • Lynn Poulin

    I’m not crazy about oversized bags. I’m not tall, and a large bag begins to look like a suitcase! Another thing is the bigger the bag, the more I WILL put in it, with chronic shoulder pain as a result. I like a bag that is more proportioned to my height but is big enough to carry my daily essentials–I’m not asking for much???

  • Katherine

    I love them! Made a couple for my girls 24 and 18 and have requests from their friends. So many designs you can sew yourself it is hard to make up your mind which to make first

  • Ilene Barnett

    Handbags are a necessity and as such I try to stream line my contents. The lighter the load, the easier on the neck, back and shoulders. I love the egonomic design purses – they are especially great when you are traveling and have to keep your bag with you most of the time.

  • Gail Young

    Hi There,

    I made a fabulous bag for my notebook in the Spring.I used Nancy’s notion and your embroidery patterns from the accessories book. It is such a fun project! I love all your suggestions for successful embroidering.



  • Deb Fischer

    I LOVE the big bags and have always carried one. My family called me a bag lady for years. My hubby and kids call me the consummate boy scout because my bag has everything in it! And the more pockets, the better. I can’t wait until I have the time and skills to make bags on my new Baby Lock Elisimo. I am only 6 months away from retirement and I have a goal to make a bag/purse for each of my 8 granddaughters (and several for me of course).

  • Lila Smith

    Last night I was cutting some stabilizer in the lengths that I normally use; fan folding it and then cutting it with scissors. I’d had my paper cutter (like what we used to use in school) out a couple of days ago and thought that it would work just fine and be a lot quicker. Well, it was. I set the length that I wanted, slipped the stabilizer to the line or stop and then cut it. It stacks up nicely. I put it all in a extra large zip lock bag with the stabilizer label and it is now ready for use whenever I want it.

  • Kathy

    I have enjoyed making a few purses, mostly small evening bags. The large bags are cute and definitely offer a larger embroidery surface, but I personally would not choose to carry one everyday fully loaded. For occasional use, I think they can come in handy and wow, what fun to embroider.

  • Bernice

    I personally don’t care for the oversized bags – maybe because I can’t control myself and want to carry so much in it that it does need wheels. My daughter and daughter-in-law love the big ones, though, so I always have someone to make them for.

  • rose

    Oversized bags means that I lug way too much stuff around. But when a have a handbag I always have a very long strap that I wear over my opposite shoulder across my body, like a sash. That way, my body stays in perfect alignment as I walk. It’s far more comfortable.

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  • Sara Redner

    Too big a bag gets in the way, but too small means leaving things out that you might need. I found a pattern for a perfect size bag and after making several, I decided to make one very plain and make “slip covers” to go over it. Now I can change the look of my bag in a moment without having to transfer everything from one bag to another. And I embroider on most of the covers!

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