Designing a bag

Where to start when you want to design your own handbag

If you want to start designing your own bags and accessories, there are a few simple steps to follow. It usually starts with a sketch. Start sketching out ideas on a piece of paper. You can get inspiration from different websites and from social media. If you see a bag that you like, maybe try to change it somehow in your own design or improve it. Once you have decided on the design you want to create, the next step is to create a prototype of the design using paper. Because leather can be quite expensive, it doesn’t make sense to create a prototype using leather. It’s best to start with paper and then perhaps try with another material, such as EVA foam to cut the shape and modify the design further and make improvements. Don’t settle for the first prototype as there is usually always room for improvement. When you are making the bag out of paper, cut your pieces out and use masking tape or clips to hold the shape together. Now is your chance to see whether your design works or if you have to re-design or change the size of one of the parts for instance. The prototype will also allow you to see where you should attach a magnet or whatever bag closure you want if it is part of your design so make sure that you mark these on the paper.

Paper prototype of a handbag

If you have access to design software, such as AutoCAD, it is a great place to draw the final design using the software. However, you can also create the final paper pattern using cardboard. Once you are happy with the paper prototype, take it apart and use those pieces to create the final pattern. Hopefully after some tweaks, you know that the pieces are the final shape and size and therefore will work when you start making the bag out of leather. The advantage of using design software is that you can automatically count stitching holes and make sure that each piece is the correct length to the smallest millimetre but if you are just a hobbyist bag maker, then paper patterns are more than sufficient.

Handbag sketch

Designing handbags is an exciting process as you can get as creative as you like. A good starting point can be, for example, to ask yourself whether your design solves a problem or whether it’s something totally new. Although, we think form does not always have to follow function! There are some whimsical bag designs out there that might not be the most practical for a day at the office but bag design is a form of art and once you know the rules, you can break them.