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All you need to know about bag making: Interview with Melisa of Melisa Jane

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the 1st post in what I’m calling “Beginner Bag Making Month“.  This month on my blog, I will be addressing some board topics on bag making that will help you get your feet wet if your a beginner, and that you still might find interesting to read if you are an experienced bag maker 😉

The series will include the following topics:

  • All you need to know about making bags (7th March – TODAY!)
  • All you need to know about interfacing (14th March)
  • All you need to know about fabrics (21st March)
  • All you need to know about hardware (28th March)

I’m so excited about this series, I have some great guests lined up, all of who are experts in these areas and I’ll be adding my 2 cents in of course 😉

So to start us off we are going to talk to Melisa, who is the very successful owner of the bag making business Melisa Jane!

Melisa, can you describe yourself in 5 words…
Loyal, perfectionist, generous, introvert, mum

Tell us something not many people would know about you…
I love computer games! When a new game is released from a favourite developer, I am almost as excited as a new pattern release from my favourite sewing designers
How long have you been sewing?
I’ve been sewing since high school (25 years) but only really got back into it seriously after my second son was born in 2010. 
Is sewing the only craft you spend time enjoying? If not, what other crafts help you pass the time?
Yes I’d say sewing is my only craft. I tried scrapbooking once and it drove me nuts!
Do you only make bags? If not, what else do you enjoy making?
I make what my customers want me to make. So primarily yes its bags and clutches. I do make clothing occasionally, particularly vests, but am open to all sorts of making!
What made you fall in love with making bags?
I sort of just fell into it. I made a couple of bags for myself and my mum (which were terrible!!) but I had a couple that people thought they looked good, and then I just kept being asked to make more. When I started my business there were practically no handmade bags for sale! So I did get a good niche happening early on.  
The Peekaboo Clutch, made by Melisa Jane (Pattern by Emkie Designs)
What is your favourite pattern to sew and why?
I really can’t answer that, as it changes all the time. I get bored sewing the same thing over and over so I have a new favourite every week. 
What is the number one thing that can make or break a bag?
Interfacing. Sure there are cheap interfacings out there which are tempting, as bag making is not a cheap enterprise. But I guarantee that using quality interfacing makes the world of difference to the end result and can turn a homemade looking bag into a professional one. 
**PSST…stay tuned later this month for an in depth look at interfacings**
What are some must have tools for a beginner bag maker?
My number one tool for bag making has to be my wonder clips. I don’t know how I managed without them! I also love my sleeve board and tailors ham for pressing tight corners. My final item I wouldn’t be without is a bit more random and that’s my fiskars finger swivel knife which I use all the time to make slits  for magnets and also to get right into the corners of my zip welt pockets. 
Can you suggest a few patterns you would recommend a beginner to start with? A simple clutch like the Little Moo Designs Fold over party clutch . Introduces you to zippers in a straight forward way but also can be dressed up to really be a stylish looking clutch! Another great one is the Emkie Peekaboo clutch which I have a soft spot for! 
The Fold Over Party Clutch, made by Melisa Jane (pattern by Little Moo Designs)
Can you suggest a few patterns you would recommend a beginner try to stretch themselves and learn something new?
I think the Hippo Hobo from Emkie is a great advanced beginner pattern, which gives a fabulous result! I also love the Feature me tote by Andrie designs which can be a great introduction to piping (if you are so inclined)
The Hippo Hobo Bag, made by Melisa Jane (Pattern by Emkie Designs)
What are 3 things you recommend a beginner bag maker get into the habit of doing now to achieve more professional finishes on their bags?
Pressing out seams after every step, following the manufacturing instructions for their interfacing/fleece/foam to avoid wrinkles and finally grading or trimming seams to reduce bulk. 
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to a beginner bag maker about bag making?
There are so many great blogs/youtube videos etc out there teaching you everything from how to put in a zip, to making piping, to designing your own pattern. Also books are a great resource, one of my favourites being the Better Bag maker by Nicole Mallalieu. Finally, just to enjoy the process! You will soon be hooked 😀
Feature Me Tote, made by Melisa Jane (Pattern by Andrie Designs)
Thank you Melisa allowing us to get to know you and for telling us all we need to know about bag making!
If you would like to check out Melisa’s work, please visit Melisa Jane 🙂
I can’t wait to share with you the next installment of “Beginner Bag Making Month“!
Until next week,

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  • Reply
    March 7, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Great article Emma and Melisa! Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • Reply
      March 7, 2017 at 9:46 am

      So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  • Reply
    March 7, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Awesome! Looking forward to the rest of the series!

    • Reply
      March 9, 2017 at 5:38 am

      Great! I’m glad your looking forward to the rest of the series 🙂

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Bolton
    March 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for doing this series. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the marvelous Melisa Jane, and the information is terrific!

    • Reply
      March 9, 2017 at 11:13 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed learning a bit more about Melisa and I’m also glad you found the content informative 🙂

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