I have been looking for the perfect shopping handbag. After a lot of research, I now realize there is no such thing. Unless you want to walk around with a safety deposit box as a handbag, there is not a completely secure handbag. However, there are certainly a lot of things we can do to make our handbags safer, more secure, and functional. I took some of the ideas from our last bag, the Anti Pickpocket Bag, added a few details from your comments, and came up with this new shopping handbag that I'm naming Gleam.
I have added RFID shielding fabric and made the bottom stronger. I have kept the handles the same and added a removable pouch big enough for a camera. The zippered internal pockets are hard for pickpockets to get to because they are hidden under the facing. I am using a strong cotton fabric from Marimekko's latest collection and added some rhinestones for bling.
In the last project, I told you about my daughter being pickpocketed while we were on vacation and after being left with a $1,000 in roaming charges to Uruguay in addition to the lost iPhone, I was annoyed and determined to make a bag that can secure not only a phone and wallet, but also guard my electronic information as well. Electronic pickpocketing is a growing problem in crowded places like shopping malls, concerts, public transportation, and airports. This new bag has two layers of RFID shielding fabric attached to the main fabric pieces as well as inserted as lining and making up the inner pockets. My own tests have shown that this is the minimum amount required to stop the electronic reader's ability to get the information from my card.
- RFID shielding fabric to protect from electronic pickpocketing.
- Hidden zippered inner pockets for money and valuables.
- Strong twisted fabric handles that will let you hold the bag securely.
- Removable zippered pouch.
- Heavyweight cotton to 1 1/2 yard (I used a print from Marimekko)
- RFID shielded fabric Two (2) linear feet x 59 inches wide (see below)
- Felted wool 1/2 yard (or vinyl)
- Steam-A-Seam 1.5 yard (I love this stuff..)
- Thin fusible interfacing
- Twelve (12) 1/2″ grommets or large eyelets
- Four (4) rings with spring
- Fabric glue/Fast Tak or Easy Tak
- One (1) yard 1/2″ bias tape
- Sew-in 10mm flat back rhinestones
- Two (2) 8″ zippers
- One (1) 14″ zipper
- One (1) metal ring 3/4″ to 1″ in diameter
- Two (2) small lobster claws
About RFID Shielding Fabric
This RFID shielding fabric is silver in color because it uses conductive metals, in this case, silver, woven into and coated on the fabric. This metal creates a mesh that conducts the electricity or electromagnetic radiation around your bag or wallet, rather than into it, thus preventing your cards from being read by a thief with a common RFID scanner. The concept is pretty simple if you remember from your high school physics class, the concept of a Faraday cage, where a mesh of wires can shield a person even from lightning. Click on the image or HERE for more info on where to purchase this kind of fabric. You will need two linear feet to do all the double lining detailed in this tutorial. You could do a single layer with one linear foot of fabric which would provide some protection.
RFID stands for Radio-frequency identification which is a very popular technology that uses electromagnetic fields to automatically read, identify and track tags containing electronically stored information. These tags are very common now and you will find them in almost all credit cards, passports, student and employee IDs.
Print the pattern in landscape format. Use Adobe Reader and preferably a computer. Any doubts, please refer to our tutorial on How to print and assemble a PDF Pattern.
Step One: Preparing the fabric
There is a bit of fabric preparation for making this bag. We will be fusing a layer of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the main pieces of the bag and then using Steam-A-Seam to fuse another layer of RFID fabric to these same pieces. These layers not only provide some body to the bag but also help stop RFID signals. We will also be lining the entire bag with RFID fabric and making the inner pockets out of it as well which will add a great deal of protection. This fabric looks and feels like the same type of nylon we would be using in a regular bag lining but we get the added RFID protection.
Cut all the pieces as marked on the pattern. For pieces A and B, there will be two pieces of the main fabric and fusible interfacing as per the pattern. We're also making a full internal lining of RFID fabric so we need the additional RFID fabric pieces.
We're going to attach the fusible interfacing to pieces A and B and then use Steam-A-Seam to attach the RFID fabric to the fusible interfacing which is fused to the main fabric. I am looking for a crisp, but not necessarily stiff look. Follow the instructions on the package closely.
Using Steam-A-Seam can be tricky. I have used a small scrap of paper to show you. The flower is not part of the pattern, just an example to see the process.
Peel the first layer of the plain paper exposing the sticky glue. Place the fabric using the line to guide you on the sticky side. Cut the pieces of the bag, and facing.
Peel the lined paper layer and lay the fabric on the RFID fabric. Trim the edges and repeat with all the pieces. You will need pieces A and B (2X) lined with RFID fabric.
Step Two: Sewing the hidden pockets for the RFID shielded handbag
For a detailed video tutorial on this step please have a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfqGSFGanJ0
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Fuse a rectangle 9″x 3″ of thin interfacing, on the top edge of the pocket pieces.
Draw the pocket 1 1/2″ from the top edge. I have used an erasable ink pen. The ink will disappear once I apply heat to it or spray a little water. Before you sew the pockets, change your machine to a Microtex needle. This needle is excellent to work on difficult fabrics such as satin and lamé.
Sew around the rectangle following the drawing. Make a small cut in the middle, and cut on the center line but stop at 1/4″ from the end. Cut to the corners indicated by the small lines. Do not cut to the seams.
Feed the pocket through the cut you just made and finger press the opening.
Attach the zipper by aligning it around the opening.
Remember to start sewing the zipper away from the corner. Use the side of the zipper foot as a guide. Keep the edge of the zipper foot right on top of the edge of the opening of the pocket.
To finish the pocket, fold the pocket upward and sew on the sides and on the top. Zigzag all the seams.
Step Three: Sewing the lining for the RFID shielded handbag
Sew the side gussets to the bottom gusset. You will need to repeat this step for each side. According to my tests, two layers of RFID shielding fabric are needed to prevent electronic information from passing through the fabric so please use two layers for both the bottom and sides of the lining.
Finger press the seams open.
Using the notch in the middle of the main lining piece, match the middle of the gusset lining.
Pin the gusset to the bag and sew from one corner to the next. Refer to the pattern markings.
Leave 3/8″ margin and sew to the other corner at 3/8″.
It is time to add the facing that will hide the pockets. Bias tape will be added to the facing lower edges. Pin the narrow side of the bias tape to the right side of the facing. Sew the bias tape on the right side of the fabric. Fold the tape to the other side of the facing and sew on the right side of the fabric again. Align the facing to the top of the piece end topstitch the sides at 1/8″.Pin the other side of the lining. Sew from the dots marked on the pattern to the other dot. You are working on the bottom of the bag for now. Pin the sides and sew at 3/8″.
Remember to leave a gap of about 5″ to be able to turn the bag inside out.
Step Four: Sewing the body of the RFID shielded handbag
Glue Kraftex (E) on to the wool felt fabric (C). Make sure you leave 3/8″ for the seam allowance.
Sew the bottom gussets (C and D) together with open seams. PLEASE NOTE: It is important to keep the seams open. Then turn your work and continue sewing until the top of the bag. Repeat on the other side.
Step Five: Adding the rhinestones
This step is optional. Sew each stone on the bag with a needle and thread.
After sewing the stones, sew again to reinforce all the seams.
Step Six: Attaching the lining to the bag
With your bag right side inside, place the lining right side out inside the bag. Right side with right side.
Pin the top edge aligning all the seams and corners.
Sew at 3/8″ twice.
Clip the seam allowance every 1/2″ or less around sharp curves and clip the corners. Insert your hand into the hole and turn the bag around. Shape and iron the bag with a cloth. Sew the opening by folding the seam allowance in and topstitching at 1/8″.
Step Seven: Attach the eyelets
Use the pattern to mark the locations of the eyelets. With a sharp pair of scissors, make the hole. Insert the male part of the eyelet from the right side of the print and the female part on the back. Then use the tool provided with the kit and press.
Step Eight: Making the removable pouch for your RFID shielded handbag
Cut two rectangles 15 1/2″ x 8 1/4″. These are not in the pattern but they are regular and easy to make yourself.
Cut two squares 3″ x 3″. These will become the zipper tabs.
Fold the square in half. Or mark the middle of the square. Then fold each half to the center again, this is to end up with the raw edges inside the tab. Place the zipper in the middle and repeat on the other side. The zipper should measure 14″ with tabs included. Cut your zipper if you have to. Sew the tab and make sure you catch both sides of the tab.
Place your zipper right side up. Place the square with 5/8″ folded seam allowance on top of the zipper. Mark 5/8″ seam allowance with your tailor's chalk. Make sure the tab of the zipper does not pass the chalk mark. Sew with a zipper foot at 1/8″ from the edge of the fabric.
Fold the pouch print side out and sew a 3/8″ seam. Trim the seam allowance and clip the corners. Open the zipper and turn the bag inside out. Sew the seams again at 3/8″. Turn the pouch right side out and iron.
Step Nine: Making the strap
Cut a strip of fabric that is 15″ x 2″. Fold the edges to the middle and iron, place a cable or a strip of Kraftex in the middle and fold. Sew the edges together at 1/8″ seam. Insert through the ring of the lobster claw the strap. Fold the end by 1/2″ and again by 1/2.
Sew very close to the edge and again very close to the ring. Remove the tab from your zipper and insert a ring. Repeat the same application of the lobster claw on the step above.
Now the pouch is ready to be inserted into your bag. You can line this pouch with the RFID fabric if you wish for added protection.
I hope you liked this project, as much as I did. I love the print and the functionality of this RFID Shielded Handbag. This handbag is big enough for my 13″ Mac, my drawing book, a cardigan, my wallet, sunglasses, a bottle of water, and a bag of Oreo's. I think I am off to find some fabric now. Leave your comments below. I love to hear what you think of this new take on a shopping handbag. Until next time!