Book: Simply Sublime Bags: 30 N0-Sew, Low-Sew Projects by Jodi Kahn ($13.57, Amazon)
Overview: If you ever wanted to try your hand at making your own purse, but you have little or no sewing skills, start with this book. From purses lined with duct tape to potholder glasses cases to the chic place mat bag on the cover, you'll find project made from affordable materials that actually look like nice bags.
Pros: About half of the book offers true no-sew and low-sew projects that can easily be made by anyone who is new to sewing, crafts or DIY anything. Best of all, the materials are common-place and inexpensive so you don't have to make a big investment to try things. You'll find bags made from pillow cases, place mats, ribbon, old T-shirts, wallpaper, candy wrappers and even a bubble mailer. The bags get upscale touches from craft store purse handles, zippers and closures, which are easy to find and often on sale or clearance because of changing styles. You won't find yourself in the sewing expert section of any fabric stores. In fact, you'll find most of your supplies at the dollar store or even laying around your own house.
Also, the book offered a good mix of teen girl crafts like candy wrapper pouches and grown-up options like a ribbon clutch. A lot of the bags don't look crafty or homemade at all, at least not in the professional photos in the book...
The other half of the book lands itself in the con section below for sewing machine requirements. However, the sewing machine projects are still simple enough that they would be a great place to sewing machine novices to start learning.
Cons: The book's tag line, "30 no-sew, low-sew projects," impiled a needle and thread would be the most required so I expected my lack of sewing machine would be no problem. However, as mentioned above, such a machine would actually be quite helpful with about half of the projects. And most of the bags that need a sewing machine are exponentially cuter than the ones that don't. I was a bit bummed because I think I'm beyond the candy wrapper travel pouch days and what to make the grown-up place mat tote bag.
Favorite Projects: Perhaps the easiest sewing related project is the pot holder case. Find a cute pot holder, fold it in half, whip stitch the bottom and side. Keep you glasses, sun glasses, iPod, smart phone or (if you find a larger top holder) your Nintendo DS cozy and stratch-free inside. I'm currently tracking down the perfect pot holders for my sunglasses and DS. Since most dollar stores and clearance bins have cute ones, I should get cute cases at super low prices.
A zipper pillow cover was transformed into a surprisingly cute bag with just some snaps, nylon ribbon and an iron. No sewing! Plus, it looks really easy to clean and folds up small so it's great for everything from groceries to shoes to an extra travel bag.
Another great no-sew project is the fringe duct tape bag. It does not look like duct tape. There is no sewing required, but a grommet tool is needed. Although, the inventive person may find a way around that.
If you have an old twister game, you can turn the mat into a tote. I think this would the cutest ever board game tote for game night!
My favorite project in the book was the picnic tote pictured below. It's probably the most complicated and sewing intensive project too, but I am determined to conquer it before summer is out. It's just too adorable.