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Bag Making Essentials: Tools & Notions for Your Workroom

Bag Making Essentials: Tools & Notions for Your Workroom

In today’s edition of Bag Making Essentials, we will discuss tools and notions that are useful to have in our workrooms. Whether you are a hobbyist or you sell the bags you make, these tools will make your life easier and elevate your craftsmanship.

There are so many different tools and notions out there that can really make our jobs easier. We don't want to be frustrated when we sew; we want to enjoy the process as well as the result. I always think about it like this: You can screw a screw in with a screwdriver, but isn't it easier with a drill?

I could go on forever about tools and notions for bag making, but since this series is about the essentials, we’ll focus on 15 of the most important things to have in your workroom. For each tool or notion, I will share what it’s used for, why I like it, and the products I recommend. Watch the video below or keep reading to see the full list.

15 Essential Tools & Notions for Bag Making

I only recommend products that I use myself. This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

1. Sewing Clips (AKA Quilting Clips, Binding Clips, or Fabric Clips)

Sewing clips are a must-have for any sewist. They are used in place of pins to hold layers of fabric together. The most well-known brand is probably Clover Wonder Clips, but there are all different kinds that will get the job done. You can even use hair clips for the same purpose.

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2. Double-Sided Tape

Double-sided basting tape is another essential product for bag making. It comes in various sizes — ⅛”, ¼”, ½”, and 1” — that are all used for different purposes. For example, the ⅛” tape is great for holding zippers in place while you sew, while the ½” tape is useful when you’re constructing straps. In my patterns and video tutorials, I will always tell you which size of double-sided tape you need. I recommend keeping all four sizes on hand in your workshop because you’ll find yourself reaching for them all the time.

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3. Rivet Press

One of the things that separates artisan bag makers from hobbyists is the use of rivets. Rivets are mechanical fasteners that can elevate your bags dramatically in terms of both appearance and construction.

A rivet press is a helpful tool that uses a lever and a die to set the rivet, making the process much simpler than if you were to do it by hand. You can get all kinds of dies to press different kinds of rivets, as well as snaps, grommets, and buttons. Make sure to invest in dies that fit the rivets you plan to use. Otherwise, your rivets can end up crooked or dented.

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4. Rivet Remover

If you do end up with a crooked rivet, don’t worry! A rivet remover makes it very easy to fix. Check out this video from Klum House Bag Making to see how it works: How to Remove Double Cap Rivets with Rivet Removal Tool.

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5. Lighter

A lighter is such a simple but crucial tool to have in your workroom. It’s essential for working with certain materials, including bonded poly threads, zippers, or poly strapping. You can use your lighter to burn or melt the edges and prevent them from fraying. It is such a simple trick to make your finished bags look more polished and last longer.

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6. Craft Knife

A craft knife is another valuable tool for bag makers. I use mine all the time to install magnetic snaps and purse feet, for example. Make sure to get a craft knife with a nice, sharp blade that can easily be replaced. I also recommend one with a sturdy metal handle and a rubber grip that’s comfortable to use.

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7. Seam Ripper

A seam ripper is a girl's best friend! For bag making, I recommend a dual-sided seam ripper and stitching awl, together in one product. You can use it to hold your project as you sew to make sure things don't shift, and you’ll always have your seam ripper handy.

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8. Pliers

Something else that I use all the time in my workroom is a pair of pliers. Make sure to get flat-nose pliers without any ridges or teeth. That way, if you have to use them to clamp down on a project to reduce bulk, they won’t leave any imprints. You can typically find these in the jewelry section of any craft store.

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9. Self-Sticking Tape

I’ve talked before about how much I love Hugo's Amazing Tape because it doesn't stick to anything but itself. It’s useful for wrapping around rolls of vinyl and faux leather to keep them intact, as well as to keep thread from unspooling. Plus, it’s reusable, so it lasts for a long time.

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10. Marking Pens & Chalk

Marking pens are essential for any workroom, whether you're sewing garments, quilting, or making handbags. I always keep three types of marking pens on hand for different uses. A silver marking pen is great if you’re working with leather because it can be easily erased with just your finger. An air-erasing pen is similar, but the ink actually disappears on its own. Finally, I’ll use marking chalk in various colors if my pens don’t show up well on a particular fabric.

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11. Hole Punch

Whether you use a rivet press or you press your rivets by hand, you will need a hole punch to prep your material. I recommend getting a hole punch that rotates with several different hole sizes. You just need to squeeze it to cut your hole, so it’s very quick, versatile, and easy to use.

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12. Rivet Placement Template

There are all kinds of acrylic templates for different purposes, but today I’m going to recommend one of my favorites: a rivet template. A rivet template is a tool that makes it easy for you to align rivets perfectly on your strap (or wherever else you’re using them) without a traditional ruler.

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13. Turning Tool

Turning tools are life-savers when it comes to turning out pockets and bags. Look for a turning tool with different sized balls on each end. This will allow you to get perfect corners and edges each time, without the risk of puncturing or damaging your hard work.

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14. Heat-Resistant Ruler

If you have trouble getting your credit card slots or any other sharp edges just right, a heat-resistant ruler is an essential product. You can use it to create crisp edges and corners by folding your fabric over it and then ironing directly on top of the ruler.

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15. Leather Punches

Finally, let’s talk about leather punches. They can be used for all kinds of jobs, from  adding different types of closures to bags, to punching holes for grommets, to adding an English point or rounded edge to your straps. They come in both individual punches or in multi-packs with a variety of sizes.

You will need a mallet and the right work surface to use your punches. Start out with a piece of granite at the bottom to create a nice, solid base. Then, use a punching board on top of the granite to protect your punches from damage. With a good quality leather punch, you should be able to just pull that away and then you have a nice, clean edge. It’s a lot easier to do this with a punch than if you were to cut the leather freehand, and it’s going to make a huge difference in the outcome of your projects. 

A punching board on top of a granite block
Use granite and a punching board as a base for punching leather and faux leather.

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Stock Your Workroom with These Tools and Notions

There you have it: fifteen tools and notions that are essential for every bag maker’s workroom. These are the tools I use on an almost daily basis to make my job easier, save time, and create high-quality bags.

Did you discover any new tools from this post? Is there anything that I missed that you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments.

In our next Bag Making Essentials post, we are going to talk about materials and fabric. We will cover leather, vinyl, faux leather, and more. Stay tuned, and subscribe to Simply Classic on YouTube for more tips. 


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