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Today, Lisa Lam joins us for an interview to talk about her first book, The Bag Making Bible. Most of us know Lisa from her popular U-handblog where she’s been sharing her bag-making expertise for 5 years, and her U-handbag shop where she carries an amazing assortment of bag-making hardware, patterns and kits. Lisa has taken her know-how to print with her new book that contains a wide variety of beautiful bag patterns for sewists of all skill levels.

Enjoy our interview with Lisa and leave a comment below for a chance to win one of two copies of The Bag Making Bible. Also, be sure to check out our next post where you can find a free PDF pattern from the book! You’ll also have a chance to one of the actual bags that was used for the photos in the book!

Sew,Mama,Sew!: You’ve been running U-Handbag for 5 years now. With all that bag-making experience, how did you decide which bags to include in the book?
Yes it is 5 amazing years. U-handbag had it’s birthday last November. Much of the content in my book was inspired by my customers and blog readers. Over the years I’ve received tons of email and blog comment requests for various bag making techniques and advice. In all those years of requests I’ve seen common themes and items that folks commonly want help with. Time and time again I heard that people wanted to know how to adjust their own bag patterns, add zips or pockets to existing designs, or simply didn’t know what the heck to do with interfacing! So in response I filled the book with these bag making techniques so that readers of all skill levels could customize their own bag patterns in the way that they wanted to. As for the designs I wanted some of them to be a little more involved compared to designs that you can find elsewhere. I get a buzz from gently encouraging readers to try something a bit new and to learn a whole new technique in the process. This approach seems to work for them and for me. I’ve been lucky enough to receive lots of kind feedback in my years as a craft blog tutorial writer – so we must doing something right. 🙂 It was also essential that the book designs were all brand-new (not copies of designs from my previous tutorials of my patterns).

Sew,Mama,Sew!: I think one thing that really makes your bags stand out from other designers’ is the use of hardware. You use snaps and rings and zippers and buckles like no one else! Any advice or words of encouragement for those of us who don’t have much experience with these accessories?
Yes it’s true, when it come to my designs I am a bit of a ‘metal-magpie’. I adore designer fabrics as much as the next fabric monster, but I find that popping on a magnetic snap, a purse frame or metal purse chain onto your fabric creation is one of the most effective ways to lift your handmade purses to a whole new level – where folks will begin asking you ‘did you make it, or did you buy it?’. Metal accessories are simple to use and none of the metal-ware I work with requires any fancy tools. There is a whole chapter in my book dedicated using metal accessories, but if you don’t have a copy (and you want to check out what is possible) there are lots of free tutorials on my blog. If using you are using metal accessories for the first time, I suggest starting with a simple magnetic snap for a closure or popping on some metal-D-rings onto your fabric bag handles. You won’t believe the big difference a small metal accessory makes!

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Amy Butler wrote a lovely and gracious introduction to your book. How did you two meet?
Yes, I was so incredibly touched by what she wrote. Amy is as warm and lovely as she is talented. We first connected over her sewing patterns. Back in 2006 I wrote her an email telling her that I was a UK fan, that I stocked her patterns and I really admired her work and ethos. Amy swiftly wrote back and we’ve been craft-fiend buddies ever since. I still do get ‘rock-star syndrome’ whenever we meet, but each time it lessens a little. Ha ha!

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Do you have a favorite bag of your own?
Oh a favorite bag. That’s a toughie! I guess my favorite bag is actually inside the book. It’s ‘The Great Getaway Bag’. At the time I think my publisher might have thought I was a bit crazy for putting this design in the book because it is quite challenging, but I felt that this bag should be included because it looks so ‘accomplished’. I knew it might be risky to include a more advanced design in a craft book, but I thought it was important to throw a few more ‘meaty’ designs into the mix because it feels as though more experienced sewists aren’t always as well catered for. Quick & easy projects are very important for encouraging newbie crafters (and for emergency pressies!), and there are more easily achievable designs in the book, but after a bit of practice we don’t stay newbies for long. I needn’t have worried – I’ve been sent reader photos of finished Great Getaway bags and they all look so amazing! 🙂

Photo by ‘The Stitching Room’ and is taken from my The Bag Making Bible Book Flickr Pool

Sew,Mama,Sew!: The Bag Making Bible has been a smash already, which must be fun. What’s next for you?
Yeah! I and everyone who has worked The Bag Making Bible is completely blown away by the response to the book. Readers have been so openly kind and encouraging. To be able to distribute a piece of your work in book form to so many people is awesome in itself, but to get a such warm response to that work is really something else! I know it it’ll never go to my head, I just feel so lucky all of the time. Anyway, I’d make a rubbish ‘Diva’ because I live in my slippers!
What’s next? Well I am currently planning my next book, which will feature a lot more projects than the BMB. The new book will be published in 2012. For 2011, there are other new and exciting plans afoot that my publisher and I are currently talking about, but I have to shush about them for now… But something that has gotten me super-duper excited is that I may be visiting the US when my 2nd book is published. I’d LOVE nothing more than to meet my US crafting cousins face to face. I love the way that in the US, craft is recognized as a cool thing to do and it is way of life for so many. I find that so energizing and exciting!
To be interviewed on the SMS blog is a very cool thing. Thanks very much for having me here. I feel I’ve ‘arrived!’ 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Lisa! Readers, don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win one of two copies of The Bag Making Bible. You should also check out the next post where you can download a free PDF bag pattern from the book and comment for a chance to win the actual bag from the pattern!