October 25, 2022

Making of a TOM BIHN Bag

Making of a TOM BIHN Bag

Are you curious about how our backpacks, bags, and various organization packs and accessories are made? Ever since we re-opened our showroom back in May, our crew has been so happy to welcome customers from near and far! A common request that we get from our visitors is if we can provide a tour of the factory so they can get a deeper understanding of the manufacturing process, and we're always happy to do so since we know it's not super common these day to be a design house, manufacturer, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand all-in-one. As a certified B corp, one of our core values is to provide our customers with transparency into our supply chain. Not only do we tell you what materials go into your bag, our doors are also always open to the general public during factory hours so you can view the manufacturing yourself and see our crew at work.


For those who are not able to come visit in-person in Seattle, here is a quick rundown of our cut and sew process.

Ben carries a roll of fabric through the factory

Step 1: Picking the materials

Every bag has a bill of materials (kind of like an ingredients list) linked to it. It details out the exact, carefully calculated quantities needed of everything: buckles, zipper pulls, coil chains, webbing, shell fabric, lining fabric, mesh, foam, nylon binding tape, and lots and lots of o-rings. Our materials manager is in charge of picking everything that is needed from the shelves to prepare for production.

Trung cutting fabric

Step 2: Cutting the Fabric

Once all the materials are picked off shelves, we first move the fabric over to the cutting table for our fabric cutters to cut into individual pattern pieces. Every design is digitized into a 2D pattern, which we print onto a massive piece of paper (any guesses at how many individual pieces the Synik 30 is made of?). Our cutters lay the 2D pattern onto the stacks of fabric and start tracing industrial saws along the lines with the utmost accuracy. 


The TB team sewing in the factory

Step 3: 2D Sewing and Sub Assembly

We bring the cut fabrics, along with the rest of the picked materials, to the production floor. Our sewers will initiate the first half of sewing process: putting lining against the shell, assembling the zipper pulls onto the chains, sewing the chains onto the individual panels, attaching logos, and more. 


Juanna sews

Step 4: 3D Sewing and Joining

Next, we move all the individual pieces over to the second half of the production floor, where our joiners will take the 2D pieces and assemble together into 3D forms.


Team member bartacks a bag

Step 5: Bar Tacking

Have you ever looked inside your TOM BIHN bag and noticed heavy stitches? This is called a bar tack, a technique that we use to reinforce the insides, particularly on areas of stress, of every bag.


QA team inspects a bag

Step 6: Quality Assurance

Afterwards, the bags are ready to move to QA. Our QA team checks every bag individually and thoroughly to ensure each is sewn to our standard. If a bag doesn't pass QA, it goes right back to the production floor for fixing.  

Matt packs an order


Step 7: Fulfillment

All the bags that pass QA are now ready for fulfillment! Our team will scan them into our system, arrange the bags neatly onto our shelves, load the inventory onto our website, and prepare for shipping.


And that's quite possibly the most simplified rundown of our process. In reality, there are many steps within each step, and details and challenges that vary by bag. Any particular questions you have in mind? Ask them below and we will try our best to answer!







Kim Fitch Indest - October 29, 2022

Great overview of the production process, thank you! My first thought was how expensive the bags are but after reviewing the cut and sew process and thinking about how much time all of these steps take I can appreciate and understand the retail price. Sewing is a detailed and time consuming process and once you factor in fair wages for your workers, quality materials, purchase and maintenance of sewing equipment, cost of building facility and maintenance… and the list goes on I’m sure… I acknowledge the price for the product is reasonable. I could pay much less for bags on Amazon but would probably replace them every year because of lower quality, but it appears your bags are durable and made to last a LONG time, so the purchase would be an investment in the travel budget. Thanks for giving us the big picture. Hope to invest in a bag soon!

Andreas Demetriades - October 27, 2022

I would love to know how many pieces are on the bill of materials for my Synik 30! And which of your bags qualifies for: a) most number of individual pieces? b) which is the most complicated/ difficult bag to make? I already knew my TB bags were great – but this blog gives me even more respect for them, and the people who made them! Two further comments: 1. Tom Bihn being a single family working together under one roof is a key reason why I’ve become such a big fan, and I believe a key foundation to your success – I really do hope this continues with Tom Bihn the man passing on the baton to the next generation; 2. I cannot over emphasise the importance of quality control to ensure that every bag that goes out is perfect – based in London UK, I pay high shipping costs and import duties, and given geographic distance, it is not feasible to return items. I discovered TB in Jan-22 and I’ve bought loads of stuff this year – so far every bag has been perfect – not a single fault – so QA are doing a great job – big Thank You!

G42 - October 26, 2022

Always cool to see some behind the scenes details about how things are made!

Siobhan Jones - October 25, 2022

As a home sewer this was fascinating to me. I really should implement some of these industrial (batch) sewing techniques at home! (Although I’m pretty confident nothing I make would pass Tom Bihn’s stringent Quality Assurance :) )

Leave a Comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.