Book Review: Sara Lawson’s Big City Bags


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I’m so excited to share with you Big City Bags written by my friend Sara who blogs over at Sew Sweetness. Sara designs bags and purses (among other things) that are extremely useful and straightforward in construction.  In addition to Big City Bags (which comes out this month), Sara has a line of pdf sewing patterns too.


Big City Bags contains 12 amazing bag designs, plus helpful sections on interfacing and general bag making techniques.

I know this because after Sara asked me to review her book, I received a complimentary electronic copy (yeah, I know you’re jealous because I got the book way before it came out). This happened to be perfectly serendipitous because it was just in time for me to sew a new bag to take with me to Quilt Market last month. But I had a very hard time choosing among those 12 super cute bag designs! I ended up picking the Sound Check bag which is the lower right one in the picture above.

Then I got this fabulous Japanese Cotton-Linen blend fabric from Maigo. She has all of those hard to find Japanese fabrics that I love so much – plus some new one I hadn’t seen before. The dark blue bird print that I used for the lining is organic quilting cotton by Rashida Coleman-Hale. So cute.

The Sound Check Bag is a nice roomy size, perfect for when you have to tote stuff around but you still want to look cute doing it. I got so many compliments on it, and everyone was thrilled to find out that they could find the pattern in Big City Bags (which almost everyone wanted to get anyway, lol). 

And here’s my little tip for us last minute stitchers: I waited until it was too late to order bag hardware online, so I ran over to Lowes and got bronze curtain rings. 10 for $10 and they look awesome! 


The next bag I have on my list to make is this one: The Honeymooner Suitcase. I’m no honeymooner anymore, but it will be perfect for my 8 year old to take on overnighters with grandma. 


I also have to make this one for myself: The Wonderland Bag.  It’s such a sweet size and shape!

Check out my other book and product reviews too:

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  1. This year I haven’t made any, but I was on bed rest for 8 months. 🙂 I generally make about six or seven a year and give them as gifts. Thanks for hosting this giveaway! I love Sara’s patterns! mfrapp_83 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  2. I make 2 or 3 bags a year. Would love to make more …

  3. Friederike Krüger says:

    I don’t make as many as I would like (maybe 2 or 3 per year), but mostly because I hardly find any designs I realy like. "Big City Bags" has been on my Amazon wishlist for months now, so I’m realy looking forward to the release!

  4. Tatiana Di Maio says:

    I make 4 or 5 each year, some for me, and some for gifting…

  5. Isabel A. says:

    I made one this year, and i really would love to win that book!

  6. I make one or two bags a year but I’d love to make more! So I’m hoping I’ll win :).

  7. I have made 5 bags this year and have several more requests/ideas on my list…So much fun!

  8. Charlotte says:

    So far, none. But now that i am retired I’m ready to start. I’ve been collecting fabrics for a while and these look like just the right patterns.

  9. An Staute says:

    about 6 🙂

  10. How many bags do I make a year? I have no idea but I’m busy sewing for a fair and made 21 last week alone! (I don’t get much sleep!) I’d love some new ideas familylipman at gmail dot com

  11. I usually make one new bag for myself during Christmas, since Santa doesn’t know how to sew. 🙂

  12. Usually at least two – I made three so far this year! I am loving the look of this book with so many new bags to make! thank you!

  13. I am rediscovering sewing, now that I retired, & handbags have caught my eye as the perfect projects to start on

  14. Alexandra Groves says:

    I usually make a handful I suppose. My 8 year old made her first tote yesterday, with
    French seams, fur trim, lacy, sequined handles etc, it is fabulous and she is so proud of herself!

  15. Cindy Hansen says:

    I make about 6 or 7 bags a year. Thanks for the giveaway

  16. Well, this has been my first year to make bags–and I’ve made 4 so far and hope to get a couple more in before Christmas!!

  17. Eileen Marron Mueller says:

    I am a zero. But these are really cute!

  18. I make and sell bags, tho most are knitting bags rather than handbags. So I guess my answer is something like eleventyhundredthankyouforasking.

    But in addition to "work," I do try to make 1-2 personal handbags/tote bags, because I am such a bag lady!

  19. Phyllis Calvert says:

    I love all of them….Wish I had the time to make one of each…..PJC

  20. I LOVE to make Purses! I make as many as I can each year. Sometimes 5, sometimes 8. I want to win this book!!

  21. This year has been rather busy on the bag front with around five…but the year is not over yet!!!!

  22. I make 2-3 a year but would like to make more! A copy of "Big City Bags" would certainly be inspiring!

  23. I make zero but would love to learn how. I’m just now getting back into sewing and quilting and need all the help I can get!

  24. Norma Santiago says:

    I have made so far 5 this year, with 4 more to go. I made for friends and family members. They make a great gift and it is so personal.

  25. I have two girls & every time they are invited to a birthday party I make a tote for the gift. Needless to say, I cannot count how many bags I make in a year!

  26. I have officially finished my first bag of the year! and hope to make many more!!!

  27. I have made a handbag before, I guess I do need this book to inspire me. Thanks for a chance to win

    1. That should say I have NEVER made a handbag before

  28. I make at least one bag a year, which I donate to a fundraiser for the sewing program where I teach. Occasionally, I sew another bag for myself. I’d love to try one of these for both myself and the fundraiser!

  29. I have only made a few bags total. I love to sew but don’t get a lot of free time to do it. My favorite thing to sew is bags though. I love that there are so many different designs and each looks different depending on the fabric and each sewers unique touch.

  30. I’ve only ever made one. 🙁

  31. Two or three? I have fabric lying on my sewing table right now waiting to turn into a winter purse!

  32. Kelly Sales says:

    I make 5 or 6 bags a year. Bags are my go-to present for my sisters, sister-in-laws and daughters. Guess who really needs a new bag? I’m still dragging my old one around! If I win, mine will be the first bag I make.

  33. I just found my love for sewing this past summer so I have never sewn a handbag. I have been practicing on make-up pouches, drawstring backpacks, and totes. I know I could make these awesome handbags with the right instructions in this book!

  34. I’ve made my first bags this year, seven in all. I’m making them for my adult children to give as Christmas presents so they don’t have to spend their money. They get lovely one of a kind Christmas presents to give and I don’t get the "Mom, I spent too much money for Christmas presents and can’t pay my (fill in the blank here) bill." It’s a win/win!

  35. Pam Frank says:

    I have yet to make my first purse. I have been practicing my skills by sewing small bags and coin purses. This looks like a fabulous book and I can’t wait to check it out.

  36. I make 2 or 3 bags a year and sometimes more when I make some for gifts.

  37. Sandy
    None. But I have to Make THE WONDERLAND BAG!!!! Can I buy the book with the patterns???

  38. I’ve tried once and I didn’t understand the instructions so maybe if I win this I will understand and finally get one done. Then I’m sure I will sew, sew, sew and make many more.
    Thanks, Teretta

  39. I make zero, but I have the instructions and templates for one of Sew Sweetness’ bags ready to go its just theres SO many projects it keeps getting pushed back!

  40. teresa Linscott says:

    I make about 50 handbags and totes a year. Some of them are as a pattern tester, some go in my etsy shop, and some are special orders.

  41. If draw string bags count, then ‘a few’ as they are so handy for many things! I have recently signed up to SewCanShe and came from there to here!! I need to get more adventureous!

  42. About 3 or so. I really need this book!

  43. I have averaged 4 or 5 a year in the past but since I have retired, I have been busy working on a quilt for my grandson. I really could use a new purse but it will have to wait until his quilt is finished…..or maybe not…..I might be able to work in making one between doing the the piecing and the quilting on the quilt…..after all, we all need a break from a project once in awhile and it wouldn’t take that long.

    Julia H

  44. Joanne K. says:

    I made 1 this year, but in previous years, around 5 or more for a Christmas Bazaar.

  45. Frances Medina says:

    I have never made a handbag or purse. They have always looked complicated to me.


  46. Scavenger Annie says:

    I’ve made 3 so far this year but I’ve got a funny feeling there’ll be a few more being stitched in the run up to Christmas!

  47. I’ve only made one or two bags a year but plan on lots more. Thanks for the sweet giveaway 🙂

  48. Becky Theisen says:

    more than I can count!

  49. Jodi Skutt says:

    What an awesome collection of bags! Would love to win this and be able to start making all my daughters some great bags.!!

  50. Emily Hai Huang says:

    Zero, but I’m learning how to sew. So, in the near future, one!

  51. Jennie P. says:

    Well, I wouldn’t say that I make a certain amount each year, but I have made one or two before. I love the look of this book. So many beautiful bags and stylish bags at that. I’d love to win a copy. THanks for the chance.

  52. Maybe two or three, I tend to give them away so I really don’t know. Actually, the last time I made one for myself was almost three years ago – I guess I need a new one o.O This book looks amazing, usually bag making books have way too many itsy bitsy purses I don’t need, so this one is definitely going on my wishlist for Christmas^^

  53. LoriAnne August-Gamble says:

    ZERO!!!! but I’ve bought patterns just haven’t been brave enough to start.

  54. Just starting to make handbags and such. So far this year (my first) I have made 2 bags. I have bought some patterns but haven’t made them yet!

  55. barbe price says:

    zero!! lol, have to get the book, i have some great fabric for a couple. lol

  56. I usually make 2-3 handbags per year. Thanks!

  57. 0… I am making my first tote bag at the moment (241 Tote by Noodlehead) as a Christmas gift and I am loving it. I would love to try making some handbags and purses too, the more I try the more I start to think maybe I could do more if I tried with the right patterns and instructions 🙂 Learning to sew is so much fun.

  58. Colette Godfrey says:

    I sew up to half a dozen handbags or totes each year, as I love trying new patterns, so most of them go as gifts!

  59. Lisa Atkinson says:

    at least 1 a week, my daughters are bag crazy

  60. Karen Tippett says:

    I am actually the person who has never made a handbag. I always thought they would be too hard. But perhaps I am wrong – I am definitely inspired after reading this review!

  61. I’ve made about 5 this year

  62. I made a basic tote and wasn’t happy with the end product. So I’d love to win. Thank you for the chance.


  63. I wasn’t able to sew last year because I was going thru chemo treatment. But, since Sept. I’m on a roll and want to sew everything. I’d love to win.

  64. Helen Carillo says:

    This book looks awesome, I would love to win.

  65. I would guess 4 – 6 per year. I love making bags, they make great gifts and can be personalized in so many ways. I’ve got to get this book.

  66. I make a small bunch….probably 8-12 a year….I love making bags!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  67. Elizabeth Waligora says:

    I’ve made two this year, but working on numbers three and four! Branching out to new patterns always takes more time! This book looks really neat, I like the bag styles quite a bit! The wonderland bag is quite well done (love the piping!) bit I’m also a fan of the one with the bicycle print. The current traveling bag I’m working on has a somewhat similar shape, perhaps I have a "type"?

    Thanks for offering this great giveaway!

  68. I’ve made two and want to make at least one more! Her book looks great!

  69. Danielle Drown says:

    So far I have made 3 in the past year. I LOVE purses so when my husband said, "I don’t care how many purses you have as long as you make them yourself" I got busy!

  70. Beth Peterson says:

    I have made 45 bags this year, all my own design. I would L O V E this book! 🙂

  71. I have made bags but never handbags like these!

  72. Colleen E says:

    I probably average 1 or 2 bags a year, but all the bags in the book look so cute!

  73. I haven’t made any bags in the past few years. I was making about 6 a year from a pattern I got in Texas. Now that I don’t have to carry as much "stuff" I’ve been buying my purses. Love these designs.

  74. Rani Self says:

    I’ve only made a lunch tote recently but love the bags I’ve seen from this book!

  75. alis stevens says:

    I’ve just started making bags this year, but I think I’ve made 5.

  76. Kam Watson says:

    I started making bags last year both on serger and by sewing machine. Am constantly looking for new stabilizers and different batting’s for my quilted totes.

    1. Kristi Coburn says:

      Have you tried Soft and Stable by Annies? It’s awesome for bags!

  77. Kristi Coburn says:

    Oh my….. I love making bags! I mske probably 25 a year plus some duffles and totes. People love these as gifts so I am always looking for new patterns and I never make the same bag twice. Maybe the same pattern, but never the same fabrics!
    I’d love to have this book!

  78. I just bought this book, but I would love to win one for a friend, I make about 12 a year 🙂
    grecomara at gmail dot com

  79. Ann Frederix says:

    One. But I’ve also made a tote,23 pencilcases for my daughter,and several pouches. The patterns for these bags look amazing. Such a lovely book,I would definitely like winning it.

  80. Germaine Sonderegger says:

    Zero! But I’m now inspired to start. I sew and embroider a lot but have been intimidated by making bags. Kind of like baking scones…but I tried that with huge success. I’m ready to try a bag…or twelve! Can’t wait. Going shopping for fabric today!

  81. I have two handbags cut out to sew…..I have not made any so far so my answer right now is NONE….but….I have good intentions….thanks for the giveaway…

  82. I can always use another bag, no matter the size. I have 2 sewing machines that are ready to hum away .
    Denise Miller

  83. Natalie Coridan says:

    I’ve made bags in the past, but so far this year I’ve only made some zippered pouches, and these patterns look great for some xmas gifts

  84. I’ve made 4 this year with a few more on my Christmas to-sew list. Can’t wait for the book!

  85. I make zero purse bags in a year, but I really would like to make some! I have made other bags in the past, about 9×11 with a carrying handle for the young kids at church to carry their things in.

  86. I make zero. I hope to change that soon.

  87. Tanja Haack says:

    I make about 5 each. I make cross body bags, wallets, pencil cases, lunch boxes and what ever else I can think of.

  88. My answer is zero because I’m still a beginner and afraid to try. But I love bags! Eventually my love will overcome fear and I’ll start making them by the dozens 🙂

  89. I’ve just started, but so far I’ve made 3 purses and I’m working on a 4th right now. I love the look of the bags in Sara’s book.

  90. I make one or two handbags/purses each year. I would like to make more!

  91. Karrie Smith says:

    My answer IS zero. I really really really want this book!!!

  92. Amanda Harvey says:

    About 2 but wish it were more! Some lovely lookings bags and fab fabric!

  93. I use to make about 5 and give them away as gifts. Now I want to make some for myself and give some away as gifts. This book looks like so much fun!

  94. Around 10!

  95. Thunder Kaplan says:

    On average I make about 6. If I win this book I will make more 🙂
    thanks for the chance.

  96. Kimberlee Patton says:

    I love making bags! I made one purse & one bag this year. The year before I made 2. I think that’s what I average a year.

  97. says:

    I’ve only made a couple of purses, ever. I want to do more though, and Sara’s book looks like a great collection of patterns. Thanks for the chance to win!

  98. Linda Jackson says:

    I make at least 5 or 6 but have patterns for many more and I love the look of this book!

  99. Lisa Estrada says:

    Well, I must confess that I don’t make purses. I have made pouches, drawstring bags, and totes. Probably 2 of those per year. I need a purse from the book!

  100. Only 1… but I have a great plan to make myself a new purse and some for gifts. Thanks for a chance to win this very useful book! 🙂
    bcgeates at gmail dot com

  101. Amazingly, I have made zero handbags this year. But if the question were how many homemade handbags do you own, my number would be embarrassingly high! Maybe it’s time for me to sift through my bags, donate some, win this book, and get sewing on a new one 🙂

  102. Janet Marchelletta says:

    New unique designs as well as inspiration for locating these unusual fabrics. I can’ t on how many purses I make in a year but it averages over 200 as I participate in 2 large weekend craft shows and a few local ones. They range from full size purses and totes to wristlets to coin purses to children’s. It is my passion after teaching for 33 years. I go my the name of "Purse" onality Plus, because I not only make purses but accessories as well. I’m always looking for girlie items to make so keep the ideas coming. They are much appreciated.

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