In today’s post, we’ll cover what to consider when selecting fabrics for your purse. The Luna pattern testers had so much great feedback in this area, so I’m going deep and hopefully this will help you with all your sourcing needs!
The Luna Crossbody is a small, sturdy bag with a circular shape and the best fabrics for the exterior are non-stretch, heavier weights (7oz to 12 oz) like cotton duck canvas, twills, and even upholstery fabric. If you decide to use a lighter weight fabric, you may need to beef up your interfacing, which we’ll get into here as well! It’s important to find a fabric that is both sturdy enough to hold the flat profile and round shape, while also something that your sewing machine can handle.
Canvas is a very sturdy, plainweave fabric and is pretty easy to work with, even with a 12 oz weight. Canvases that are 12 oz or less are known as “single fill” and will be labeled based on the oz weight (I usually go for the 10 oz, as it is the most common and there are a massive variety of colors available from multiple suppliers). The heavier canvases, known as “numbered canvas”, will be identified with numbers, like #12 (not the same as 12 oz…I know, confusing!), #10, #8, etc. The numbered canvases have an extra yarn in the weft, making them extra sturdy and stiff. These are too heavy for a bag this size, in my opinion, and can be really hard on a sewing machine. Here is a more in-depth overview of single fill and numbered canvases from one of my favorite suppliers.
Waxed canvas is also a great option for your Luna if your machine can handle it. This fabric is heavyweight, incredibly durable, and coated with wax to make it water-resistant. Waxed canvas has a beautifully-weathered appearance (it kind of resembles leather from afar). It’s relatively easy to sew, but requires extra patience since it will show every fold and scratch and tends to be a little finicky with your machine tension. But once you get going, you can create a really gorgeous end product! This is a great option if you think your Luna will get lots of wear and tear and be exposed to the elements more.
Twill and Bull Denim are other great choices for the exterior fabric of the Luna, and are also widely available in many colors and prints. You’ll want to make sure you get a non-stretch…just keep a look out for that. The weave of twill differs from canvas in that the weft yarn goes over one and under two (or more) of the warp yarn, shifting the weave pattern and giving the twill a diagonal stripe pattern (you may notice this in many cotton chino-style pants, as this is a popular fabric for heavier apparel applications). Twill and especially bull denim are very durable and also easy to work with. The surface of these fabrics will feel softer and smoother compared to canvas.
Other fabrics that would work well are just about any heavier weight, non-stretch fabric, such as Upholstery Fabric, Jacquard, Tweed, Wool Felt, Leather, Nylon, Pre-Quilted Fabrics…I’m sure I am leaving some out! You just want to find something that you love that will give you a long lasting and functional bag (one of the pattern testers made a quilted Luna out of reflective fabric for her bike commute…Genius!).
If you decide to use quilting weight cotton for the exterior, you will want to be diligent about interfacing. I know that there are so many awesome indie fabric designers making gorgeous designs for lighter-weight fabrics. So, I’d hate to write those off entirely if you have your heart set on a specific fabric design for your Luna! Consider how much you plan to use your finished bag—it will get some abuse—and decide from there which fabrics are the most appropriate.
Selecting a lining fabric for your Luna is a little more laid back. Ideally, something light weight is best (4 oz to 6 oz), as it will sit comfortably inside the bag without creating too much bulk. Since this is such a small, narrow bag, your lining will also not be subjected to too much stress from the weight of the items in the bag. So having a super reinforced and sturdy lining is not as much of a concern here. You’ll also want to avoid going too heavy on the lining since doing so will create too much bulk on the interior and be frustrating to sew (save all that energy for the exterior!).
Quilting Cottons will work well for the purse lining fabric. Quilting cottons are pretty stable and lightweight, making them easy to work with and durable enough to withstand normal wear and tear for a purse interior. They can be found just about anywhere that sells fabric and also come in a dizzying array of colors and patterns, giving you endless options for customizing your bag!
Other fabrics, such as polyesters, nylons, and blends are appropriate options as well. These fabrics can be a little trickier to work with sometimes (especially if you want to do a water-resistant or waterproof lining in a nylon, for example) since they can be a little more “slippery” and flexible. Just use lots of pins to hold it all together when you sew! If using more technical fabrics, like ripstop nylon, do your research on appropriate tools for working with them for the best results. Most synthetic fabric will also be more resistant to stains and easier to clean, if that is a concern.
The luna pattern is designed with a “self strap”, meaning that you can make your strap from the same material as your exterior. But you can also switch it up! I’ve used webbing and leather for strapping on bag projects with great results. Whatever you choose, it should be comfortable to wear and durable—the strap is probably going to get the most abuse, especially if you are making the adjustable version.
If using leather, you’ll first need to decide if you plan to fold and sew the strap according to the pattern instructions, or if you want to just do a thicker leather strip (you can find these pre-cut). If folding and sewing, choose a leather weight that is more supple. Admittedly, I have never sewn a leather strap, so my knowledge in this area is zilch beyond the obvious of choosing something lightweight and easy to sew! For a leather strip that is not sewn and has raw edges (I have way more experience with this type of strap), you’ll want something that is at least 2mm think (which falls into the 4oz to 5oz range). This is also an appropriate weight if you are making the adjustable version. As you get into heavier leather weights, you may need heftier purse hardware (rivets, rings, and slides) to accommodate the thickness. The most common option for leather strips is plain vegetable tanned leather. You can also use different finishing techniques on vegetable tanned leather, but it will naturally darken over time with regular use and exposure to the elements if you do nothing to it, giving it a beautiful weathered caramel look. And there are a lot of finished purse straps out there, Etsy is a great source for these.
Webbing is another option for a ready-made strap. I’ve used cotton webbing for other bag projects with thick straps, but cotton is not as sturdy for a thinner webbed strap (oooh, unless you use rope, which could be cool!). However, there are many options for nylon webbing that would be very sturdy and appropriate for the luna strap.
When it comes to interfacing, it really depends on the type of body you want on your purse. The Pellon 809 listed in the pattern requirements is a firm, non-woven, fusible stabilizer that gives a very crisp hand to fabrics. I like this interfacing for the Luna because of the crispness, and think it helps the bag hold the modern, flat shape really well.
You can, however, choose a different interfacing if you have something you like better in a woven or more flexible version. One tester used hair canvas for her bag. Others mentioned were Pellon 911SF and Pellon SF101, which are lighter weight. One tester had trouble finding the heavier weight interfacing at her local fabric shop, and the store clerk recommended layering interfacing, which would also work! If you use something lighter weight, it might be easier to block fuse your fabric before cutting, as suggested by a tester. For the heavier interfacings, I do not recommend block fusing, as it will potentially add too much bulk to the seam allowance.
The type of interfacing you use also depends on your fabric choice for the exterior. I made one sample out of some leftover polyester upholstery tweed and did not interface at all. If I had to do it over again, I would probably have used a lightweight interfacing to add just a bit more stability, as the fabric around the zipper is not laying as flat as I would like.
I also recommend fusible interfacing (and not sew-in) since it is so much easier and quicker to apply.
Big Duck Canvas (U.S. + Canada shipping)— Wide selection of heavyweight fabrics and webbing
Joann Fabrics (U.S. only)—Fabric and crafts chain store with physical locations all over the U.S. as well as online shopping.
Blackbird Fabrics (Canada and U.S. shipping)—Located in Canada, but also ships to U.S. with great shipping rates. They usually have a beautifully-curated selection of heavy weight fabrics, such as canvas, waxed canvas, and twill/bull denim.
Spoonflower (International)—On-demand, custom fabric printing with no minimums. Order designs from the Spoonflower marketplace (on a wide variety of substrates), or design your own fabric (I have a Skillshare class on this)!
Stone Mountain and Daughter (located in U.S., ships International)—Located in Berkeley, CA, this fabric store has just about everything you need for your fashion sewing projects. Their website is also really easy to navigate and they have a gorgeous selection of printed fabrics!
Etsy (International)—this one has come up a lot from testers as a resource for finding supplies. I would have to agree! There have been so many times that I haven’t been able to find what I needed until I hit up Etsy. And since sellers are all over the globe, it’s likely that you’ll find one in your region with exactly what you need! I have a few suppliers that I use exclusively on this platform for hardware, too, which I will cover in a later post.