Bag Design and micro-manufacture

(insert Tim Gunn Accent) “Hello Designers” - This is my first post, so feel free to flame away… I probably deserve it.

I’m a firefighter and Dad full-time, a stitch engineer part-time in which I make stuff for cold hard cash. You might be asking; What is a stitch engineer? Well, a stitch engineer is someone who runs an industrial sewing machine to get desired technical results with different types fabric. Yes, I made all of that up… but its a lot “awesomer” than calling myself a seamstress. Plus, I’m a dude… no offense ladies.

That said, I’m looking to take my bags and utility items to another level. Right now, my bags are kind of boring, two tone and/or monolithic. They are very durable and serve the main design intent (take stuff from A to B).


  1. I can’t draw for schisse and I don’t have time to practice

  2. I’m not schooled in the design aesthetics

So far, I have been able to build the things I see from other manufactures… but I don’t want to just be a knock-off type of guy. I do have some original ideas, but they need some refining. They need the hand and skill of someone that can draw/design better than myself at this point in time.

I’m in no position to hire a design firm at this point. So, I had better learn this stuff. I’m simply looking to learn more about soft-goods design. Where do I start… books, etc.?

You can see some of the stuff I’ve done here:

All items were created and made be yours truly.

  1. that is the best first post ever (perfect tone and hilarious)

  2. super impressive stuff! Looks like you have a lot of skills on that thing!

  3. where are you located?

  4. I might be interested in throwing you a few sketches for free for fun. Shoot me an email.

I am a package designer and do not know much about the soft goods industry but I wanted to chime in and let you know that the stuff on your website looks really nice and very professional. The samples look as if they were mass produced and that is you first step. I know you said you don’t have the funds to go to school but have you ever thought about taking out loans and getting a design degree? Also have you done any sketches and if so can you post them? You may be much better than you think you are at sketching and drawing.

Keep up the good work and I defiantly think you should create a corfolio for yourself.

hahaha. yup, great post, and nice stuff. I’d say you definitely have the stitch engineering skills down pat.

as for sketch skills, I wouldn’t worry too much about it esp. at this point when you are making your own designs. sketching is really only about communicating an idea and if you are communicating to yourself, anything will do.

for reference however, you might want to do a search in the footwear/softgoods forums as there have been several posts in the past with great examples from others of bag sketches and specs.

from my perspective, I’d just put more time now into developing some breadth of different original styles, and also recommend a rebranding/identity/positioning exercise. If this (branding/identity) is something you might be interested in getting someone on board with, gimme a shout. I do a lot of branding/identity work, and have found with my clients, it’s the biggest thing in getting the business to the next level in terms of improving the perceived value of the products and appealing to your target market on a more emotional level that adds to the functional level of your products.

where are you looking to take this business? keeping it PT, or getting to a point where you are up and running full time?


Thanks for the flames guys… FYI: I’m left handed. You know, in case you were wondering.

Mr. Yo; Thank you for the offer. Email inbound. I’m located in the lovely United States hub of drug trafficking also known as the old pueblo or Tucson, AZ. A literal design mecca with more opportunity for government cheese checks than one can shake a stick at. It might be a dump, but its MY dump. ya heard?

Thanks Package… I’ve thought about taking the Art Academy’s Online ID program. The funds are not the problem… motivation from making money to paying money is the problem. I’m not sure that I could leave my job right now, I just LOVE it too much. I get paid to play in burning buildings. During my free time, I make widgets that I hope to be the “cooler-est” out there. Its would be hard to dedicate the time at this point in my life. I’ll post a “sketch” in a few…

Mr. R. - Thank you for the input, but R.I.P. exercises sound… um… deadly. All kidding aside, I really need to think hard about the items you mentioned. Right now, I’m bootstrapping this thing like no ones business as I actually pay attention to Wall st. and all signs point to tough times ahead. I literally work right out of my living room. Fortunately, I’ve made some great “partnerships” with suppliers, often much to their chagrin I imagine.

I have a decent schedule, who am I kidding, I have a fantastic schedule for a side business to blossom. We have guys that run construction companies on the fire department. I’m sure this could be much bigger than it is currently. However, I’m leary of making big commitments in the face of what I see on the business / economy side of things.

Let me ask you all this;

What do you know about prototyping/sample making for soft-goods companies?

Would this be a logical step to build a cash coffer with plans to expand my own operations?

Are there any specific books or references that detail design aspects of soft-goods other than footwear? I like a good set of kicks like everyone else, but jeeze… I’m no Imelda Remedios Visitacion Romualdez-Marcos like some of you… hahaha not pointing fingers :smiley:

Prototyping wold be a good rout, people are always looking for that service on here.

You could definitely keep yourself busy doing short run samples. It seems pretty hard to find people that can do it at a reasonable cost. What kind of sewing machine do you use?

Hey dude,

Drop me an email, let’s throw some ideas around. I’m a fulltime IDer in the niche field of bag/pack/case/etc design, but I’m no good with the needle and thread myself. You can check out some of my work at my portfolio link below. Normally I work with Chinese sample makers, and there is a bit of a delay + lack of perfect conversation. I’m currently working on a big project based out of Austin/LA/NYC, and we may need a US-based innovative sample maker?

Let’s shoot the breeze and see what we can come up with.

Skinny -

I use an industrial walking foot, unison feed machine for the main stuff. I also have an embroidery machine and associated software for smallish designs… and a home machine for lighter fabrics.

Taylor - Email inbound…

Here is a rather dull sketch… but its the best I’ve done so far. :blush: