Tools For Bag & Purse Making

You may be new to bag and purse making and wondering what tools you will be needing, or maybe you want to try some thing a little more adventurous and are not sure what is required.  In this guide I will start by listing all of the tools that you will use on a regular basis and give an over view of their purpose.  If you already sew it is quite likely that you will have many of these tools already in your arsenal. After the basics are some tools that you will need if you want to make bags and purses in different fabrics or embellish them with nice hardware to give them that professional look.

I have broken down the information on this page into three main sections:

Use the links above to jump directly to the section.

The Basics...

This section covers the most basic tools that you will need to begin making bags and purses.

Tape Measure

Something that most people already own, but absolutely essential for measuring out lengths of fabric or taking measurements of frames, zips, and other components. 


This is the first of two pairs of scissors that you will require.  A pair of shears are the larger of the two and are used for cutting fabric and interfacing only.  Do NOT use these scissors for cutting out patterns etc. as they will very quickly become too blunt to make neat cuts in fabric.

Small Scissors

Use these scissors to make holes for fixing hardware such as eyelets and twist locks, or for tidying up threads after you have finished sewing.  Being much smaller than the shears they are easier to do detail work and get into those tight corners.


This might seem a little obvious, but pins come in many different shapes and sizes.  When making bags and purses you will often need to pin through many layers of fabric, interfacing and stabiliser which requires a long, strong pin.  You will find that the smaller "traditional" pin is not up to the job!  Also if you choose pins with larger heads like some of those in the picture you will find them a lot easier to handle.

Stitch Ripper

Now lets face it, occasionally we all make mistakes or change our mind about a design.  The trusty stitch ripper will enable you to quickly and easily take things apart without damaging the base fabrics.

Eyelet Press

The Eyelet press is the tool which you will need to crimp the two halves of the eyelet together.  The press suits one size of eyelet so it will be necessary to have one for each size of eyelet that you plan to use.  See my tutorial HERE on using eyelets.


A vital tool to have!  You will need this for the eyelet punch above, or for rivets which also need pressing together using a similar punch and die tool to the eyelets.

Screw Drivers

A pair of small screw drivers, one flat bladed, one cross head, are absolutely essential.  Many types of bag hardware such as twist locks will require screwing together, or have small tabs that need folding over.  If you are making purses using glue in frames a small flat bladed screw driver is perfect for easing the fabric into the slot.

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Making Life Easier...

In this part of the guide I have included some tools that will make your life a little bit easier, and your bag making a little bit faster!


Clips are super helpful when trying to line up the lining of a bag with the outer.  The clips allow you to keep making small adjustments until it is right, something that can be quite tedious if you are using pins and have to keep taking them out to re-position the bag parts.  Clips are also essential when sewing with Oilcloth as pinning will leave holes in the material that cannot be removed.

Rotary Cutter

This is a great tool if need to cut multiple layers of fabric at the same time such as the front and back panels of a bag, or maybe if you are making several identical items.  Really simple for cutting straight lines, but a little trickier when cutting curves.

Grid Rule

These are a handy alternative to the tape measure, and are especially good for marking out as they help to achieve perfect right angles, and are also marked with other angles should you need them.  Grid rules are also great to use with a rotary cutter as they don't blunt the blade as much as a metal rule.  Being see through also helps with pattern placement.

Disappearing Pen

Another handy little tool for marking out because any ink left on the fabric disappears within 24 hours.  Always be sure to test on some scrap fabric first to ensure compatibility as you wouldn't want marks left on your wonderful creations!

Hole punch

A hole punch is ideal for making very neat smaller holes in no time at all.  The sort of things you would use this for are rivets or small eyelets such as those used on buckle holes.  Hole punches similar to the one in the picture have a variety of sizes on one rotating wheel.

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Sewing Machine Feet...

This section covers many of the different types of sewing machine foot that will be helpful to you when making your exquisite handmade bags and purses.

Standard Foot

This is the basic foot that will have come with your machine and is the one you will probably do most of your sewing with.  The long slot in the middle that runs from side to side allows you to move the needle position to the left or right.

Adjustable Zipper Foot

The zipper foot has a narrow base that enables you to sew close to the zipper teeth.  The adjustable version shown here enables you to sew on the left or right of the zip, and to insert invisible zips all with the one foot.

Walking foot

A walking foot does just that!  It lifts up and "steps" forwards as you sew. They are especially handy if you are trying to sew thick fabrics that create heavy seams a normal foot struggles to climb over, or if you are using "sticky" fabrics such as Oilcloth.  See Teflon foot below for an Oilcloth alternative.

Teflon Foot

The Teflon foot is made of the same stuff that makes your frying pan non-stick!  A cheap alternative to the walking foot if you only want to sew "sticky" not thick projects.

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