Monday, October 19, 2009

Buying wisely - guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line. Part 4 - Workmanship!

*Workmanship: To me, this is the most important thing in a quality bag, and frankly, I don't see enough of it on line. Check out the stitching in the seams inside and out, pockets, handles, closures, panel "intersections", topstitching, and so forth. Is there double stitching in the stress points, in the handles and a row of stitching around the top of the bag? Are the pockets "tacked" at the top as I've illustrated here?

Some purse makers like to sew two seams on their pockets, and that is also a good sign that extra care has been taken in pocket installation. Pockets get a lot of wear and tear, and they need reinforcement at the pocket top to hold up against all that's going to go in and out of them. Whether or not they are double seamed or tacked is a matter of prsonal preference. For now, I like tacking, but have to admit that double stitching might be in my future.

Here are two examples of tacked pockets. The first is a single pocket in which the side seams are tacked at the top. Notice how the stitching at the top of the pocket forms a little triangle.

The second illustrates a divided pocket, (one wider piece of fabric, with a sewn divider to make two pockets from one piece of material.) Notice how the top is tacked in the shape of a triangle.

Seam intersections, especially in purses with quilted effects, should meet at perfect 90 degree angles. When you see this, it's not only a sign that the seamstress has taken extra care in piecing and sewing, but that the bag is shaped evenly.

Also, on purses with boxed bottoms, the intersection angles should be fairly close to 90 degrees, and as perfectly matched as possible. If they're not, you're going to have a bag that's distorted in shape. Notice how the side seam, (with the two rows of top stitching), matches up to the bottom seam of this purse.)

Tomorrow - more workmanship...


  1. fascinating - and as I'm just about to see what's available, very timely ! thank you

  2. Great bags, I really enjoyed looking at your site. I have awarded you the " lovely blog award" Please visit my site to pick it up.

  3. I hope that more purse sellers take note of this and show it in their product photos. I love purse shopping on Etsy but I have been disappointed a few times.

  4. Thank you SOOOO much! This is a great series! I have passed it along to my sister(who has a serious obsession with purses).

  5. Great idea to show off your excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail on your blog. Great work!

  6. This is a great series! Not a would have had no idea! Following you!

  7. wow, this is so informative!!!Just stopping by to say hi! Love your blog!

    xo, katie