on December 3, 2010
Lisa Lam is obviously an extremely talented bag maker, and the bags she shows in this book are proof of that. It's a lovely book, full of inspirational photos, but my problem with the book lies with the instructions for each bag pattern. If you are buying this book for inspiration, then go for it. However I would caution that if you are buying this book for instructions on how to make the bags, it is extremely confusing.
I've been sewing for over ten years and know how to read a pattern. I feel that Lisa tried to compress her patterns to fit neatly into each page and did not give enough space to thoroughly explaining each step of the pattern:
a) instructions for each step are too brief
b) there are only photos for some steps; on steps without photos she leaves me confused
c) the photos are cropped to show only a small piece of the bag she is working on, so I cannot figure out which way the zipper/fabric/etc is supposed to be facing
on September 13, 2010
I am so tired of being let down by sewing books. Either I don't like the patterns or the supplies needed cost more than the book itself, etc. When I pre-ordered this book I really tried not to get my hopes up too high. I opened the book and thumbed through the patterns but I was so thrilled to see more than just patterns. Lisa Lam organized this book in a great way. There are only 8 actual purse patterns BUT the skills she teaches you really allows you to be creative and create ANY bag you want ANY size with ANY kind of additions (pockets, hardware, zippers, straps, etc.). I LOVE THIS book. I am actually going to return a different purse making book because all that I need (and more) is in Lisa's book. Even if you are a beginner you will love this book and she will walk you through how to sew your own handbag! I hope to find a book that makes making dresses as fun!!!
on September 22, 2010
I had this book on preorder early on, because I was familiar with Lisa Lam's excellent blog about bag sewing--it's one of the few sewing books I've ordered without reading any reviews. I just knew that it would be good, since Lisa's blog is so outstanding. Fortunately, I was not at all disappointed.
The book is really two books in one. First, it's an excellent reference book that gives you all the details you need to construct your own bags, from basics like gussets, to more advanced techniques involving hardware. There are tips and tricks interspersed throughout the book, and I really learned a lot on the first read (and I've sew a lot of bags!).
The Bag Making Bible is also a project book with eight patterns to sew. The projects range from simple totes to complex projects such as a briefcase-type messenger. While eight projects isn't as many as you often see in sewing books, they're eight high-quality projects, and no filler like is so common in craft books. The photography of the process of bag-making is really helpful as well, especially when it comes to illustrating techniques related to unfamiliar hardware. One of the things that stands out to me, is that the author chose to make her sample projects in a variety of fabrics, rather than the quilting cotton that's so commonly used for all projects in sewing books--this really shows the diversity of looks you can achieve by making your own bags.
If I could improve two things about this book, I would change the binding to lay-flat spiral binding and alter the pattern sheets so they can be used without tracing. However, both of those design choices do keep the price of this excellent book lower, so they are small complaints greatly outweighed by the high-quality instruction in the Bag Making Bible.
on April 8, 2011
I was very excited to order this book after finding Lisa's blog with extremely easy to understand tutorials with many photos. The book has condensed to one page what her free tutorial had in 15 pages. Well, I can understand she probably didn't want to waste 15 pages for one subject but one page is not enough for some of these more difficult ideas. I can't figure out some of these from her instructions.
Also found it difficult to read as the text is on glossy paper in gray text.
on January 26, 2011
This is a great tutorial-esque/how-to guide but there are a few mini pitfalls that could derail your bag-making journey. I love the U-Handbag blog and shop, Lisa Lam is a wonderful example of DIY done right. I highly anticipated the book based on reviews. And a complete aside, I had it sitting in my cart forever because Amazon couldn't figure out when it was going to get in more copies, it finally cancelled the transaction and I had to buy it through a 3rd Party seller for a higher price - not my idea of a good time but I digress. While many of the concepts in the book are offered for free on her blog what you don't get are the great projects (i.e. patterns).
My biggest "pro" mark is for her breadth of knowledge. From pockets to lining to construction she covers all the basics and the next step. However, my biggest "con" is that in some explanations the information is completely lacking and/or poorly edited. My favorite example is how to insert a flush zipper pocket. She describes how to measure the width of the zipper opening as measuring the length of the teeth and then adding 1 cm. What? Another love/hate is the pattern inclusion. I can't decide if I like the compact layout (so you can enlarge/decrease size necessary) or if I hate it because it unfolds into a huge poster of pattern parts and I have to contend with creases.
I would still recommend this book as it's far more comprehensive than what you'd typically get but it would've been nice if instructions included were a bit more clarified. Many of the concepts are easy after you've gone through it once but some take a little bit of brain power, willingness to mess up, and some extra yardage.
Few books can justify the word "Bible" in their titles. Yet Lisa Lam's "The Bag Making Bible" is at the top of that very short list. If I were stranded on an island (you know, the one with electricity, a nearby gelato stand, broadband coverage, and oh, yeah, a full-out fabric shop), I would hope that this book would be stranded with me. As it is, here I am on the Island Of Futile Craft Attempts, wishing I had had this book last week when I was fussing with gussets and seething over zippers.
Speaking of zippers, Lam's instructions for the "Flush Zip Pocket" (page 66-69) are a thing of beauty. And gussets? No problem. Each chapter steps you through the fundamental parts of every bag (Structure and Reinforcement, Linings, Closures, Handles and Straps, Pockets, Edgings and Trimmings) and is filled with truly useful real-human color photos, with adequate verbs and nouns in each instruction. I won't duplicate the praises by the other reviewers, except to say this is a 5-star book.
There is one thing worth mentioning, and it says a lot about the abundant spirit with which Lam has written this book. Since we crafters need to become more familiar with copyright law, I went straight to the copyright section and was pleasantly surprised by what I read there. While factory mass production of Lam's designs and third-party sales are forbidden, "the author consents to the resale of hand stitched designs". Wow! Lisa Lam has not only written a great book here; she might also be a great person. With the price of books getting higher and higher and legalities getting tighter and tighter, this is nice to see.
on September 30, 2010
For the newer sewist; if this book does not get those creative juices flowing maybe a new hobby is in order. Many dynamics make up this wonderful "bible". Technique is high on Lisa's list of teaching skills for the entire bag. Color, style and materials are all well thought out, organized and shared in many pictures throughout. The book begins with a very simple bag with a peek-a-boo pleat and advances from there to ... well, you just have to buy this book!
For the more advanced sewist; reinforcement, closures, handles/straps, pockets and trimmings are covered in great detail. Many suggestions are given for making a bag your own personalized creation. A helpful section on modifying patterns is included. If you have a bag pattern that you like and want to 'change it up' detailed instruction on how to make a bag larger or smaller is given.
Personally, I have been intimidated by handbag hardware; inserting holes for rivets and grommets and metal twist lock closures. Lisa's explanations, close-up pictures and encouragement have done away with those anxieties. Move over COACH and PRADA!!!!!
Kudos to Lisa Lam for a real treat. The inspiration alone is worth every penny I spent on this excellent book. ~ Tish
on June 1, 2011
I am a quilter for 25 years now and even design most of my own quilts. I have also sewn and quilted tote bags for 2 years. I wanted to branch out and create tote with a little something a little different. I am also an avid reader and usually fault quilt books for being "too simplified".
I did not find this book to be, for me, reader friendly. The week before ordering, I had reviewed several others at a local Joanne's Craft Store. Those were way too simplistic. I was excited about this book and anxiously waited for it's arrival. Boy, was I disappointed with the format. The book sure isn't simplistic but I found it difficult to locate the information I would be potentially looking for.
I finally decided to keep it for a reference book. I have yet to only look it over that first day but am so un-inspired to do anything else with it. I usually read a book from cover to cover within a few days of receiving it.
I would suggest for someone looking for a good book about tote making to keep looking. I know that I have seen at least two other terrific ones at Joanne's in the past.
on October 11, 2012
I was very excited about the book but got stock on the very 1st project. It kept talking about lining up the shorter edges of the bottom panel. However, the bottom panel IS A square. I kept on reading and re-reading that paragraph. I wish it had more pictures, at least at the begining of bag making to help me understand. So, I'm very disappointed. I really wanted to learn how to make cute bags. I used a YouTube video instead, my daughter and my niece loved the bags I made. Easier to follow and it didn't cost me anything.
I have dozens of books of handbag patterns and general bag-making information that I have collected over the years; now that I have this one, I suspect the others will be gathering dust. Everything I could ever want to know is covered in immaculate detail and gorgeously photographed. It's all here for the beginning bag-maker and for the experienced ones as well, plus beautiful new designs in luscious fabrics.
I have followed Lisa Lam's blog for a few years, and have been consistently impressed with her skills, and simply amazed at her generosity in sharing her knowledge freely and cheerfully; her creativity is inspiring, and her teaching skills are powerful. Since I live a whole continent away, I have not been able to meet Lisa in person, but her warmth radiates across the miles via internet and e-mail.
I was expecting a lot from Lisa's first book, and not only does she not disappoint, she has delivered even more than I could have imagined. Truly a MUST-HAVE for anyone who sews, especially if you have ever had even the slightest impulse to sew up a purse or tote of your own!