flexible reinforcements

If you’re a sewing lover and in fact you make your own clothes, it’s more than probably that you’ve wanted to make your own accessories and maybe, just in that moment, you have been wondering how. Technical aspects aside, in this post I’ll try to explain you all the knowledge I’ve been collecting as a crafter for years, making bags for me first and later to sell. All that I’ve been experimenting and discovering to help you growing your skills and stimulate your creativity.

FLEXIBLE REINFORCEMENTS: Sometimes when you make a bag, once finished, it doesn’t look as you imagined. When you put something inside it looses its shape and spoil the design. You can try to reinforce it then, just adding a double external fabric or with a stiffener between the external fabric and the lining with the materials I propose next.

. Interfacing: it exists in different thicknesses and types (non-adhesive, adhesive on one side or adhesive on both sides). Before choosing, try them on a small piece of fabric because the thermo-adhesive ones sometimes cheat; once they are ironed and adhered to the fabric (always stick them to the external tissue) sometimes they provide more rigidity than expected.

. Felt: use it especially to add body to accessories without folds or pleats. It’s the best choice for flat bags. Keep in mind its composition when washing (never use hot water) and always try to choose a natural one – without dyeing – or a color as similar as possible of the bag.

. Synthetic leather: like the felt, you can provide consistency to an accessory by introducing leatherette between the outer fabric and the lining, but perhaps its price is not suitable for use as a reinforcement only. Use it at specific points such as handles, sides or bases (at the bottom). Also to combine in crochet or knitted bags.

. Oilcloth: especially for waterproofing. By its composition (plastic) it works very well as an insulator in backpacks, fanny packs, hats ….

half-stiff reinforcements

HALF-STIFF REINFORCEMENTS: those that not only reinforce but also create the shape of the accessories. They provide consistency but still some flexibility.

. Foam: in its standard thickness (regular sheets for crafts) it still has some versatility to be folded and it can be use to make accessories such as headdresses, belts, brooches … Its advantages are: it doesn’t shrink, doesn’t fade and does not deform.

. Felt (thickness 0.5 cm.): same properties as the previous felt but in its thicker version. Note that it works very well as insulation from the cold.

. Plastic (roll): like oilcloth, its main advantage is that it provides impermeability. You can find it in a variety of thicknesses,

. Leather: as with leatherette (and even more so) it’s absurd to use a quality material as leather as a reinforcement. Use it for specific details in specific designs, handles and straps.

. Cross stitch canvas: although it’s a support, you can experiment with it as an element to add consistency to an accessory. It will be especially useful to give shape and volume to knitted or crocheted creations.

. Technical materials: it’s possible that in some specialized stores you’ll find certain specific materials similar to those used in the accessories industry. Usually, they’re different types of interfacing (as we’ve seen previously) or pressed fibers materiales, either synthetic or natural (leather board or salpa, for example, a recycled product made of scrap leather and also available in variety of thicknesses with or without adhesive).

stiff reinforcements

STIFF REINFORCEMENTS: they essentially make the structure of the bag on which the fabric rests or on which it is directly created.

. Foam (thickness 0.5 cm.): same characteristics as seen previously but with less versatility (because its thickness). I use it particularly as a base, at the bottom of large bags.

. Plastic (sheets): its greatest virtue remains it isolates well but on the other hand, depending on its thickness, it becomes somewhat complicated to sew. You can recycled your old folders into bags.

. Cork: it can also be an option whenever you work flat and don’t modify too much (it might be cracking).

. Plastic canvas: my favorite material to make well structured bags. Its grid makes it easy to sew and assemble all the parts. Its flexible version allows to create softer volumes.

. Corrugated plastic or corriboard: you can find it in specialized or household stores, because it’s the plastic which many storage boxes are manufactured. Similar as plastic canvas because its stiffness. As advantages you can find it in bigger size -and thus make larger creations- and also its lightness.