You have to be very careful here because if you sell wholesale to stores or want to, they won't be happy if you under cut their price. One other way of looking at pricing is to determine your cost to produce (materials, labor, labeling, whatever) then double that to get a wholesale cost. This is the price you'd sell to a store. They in turn will typically double the wholesale price. Your cost $5 = $10 wholesale = $20 retail price. If you both wholesale and retail, you should sell at the same $20 price the retail store will sell. This is a more typical "business" price philosophy. If you vary from that, you will run into issues with wholesaling, whether it's you not making money or the store droppin you after you under cut them. If you don't want to wholesale then do whatever feels comfortable to you. With consignment, you set a retail price and then negotiate who gets what percentage.
An alternative to the cross stitch plastic is stencil plastic. Sometimes the texture of the cross stitch plastic isn't appropriate or you want a different weight. You can get sheets of stencil plastic in the quilting section or craft sections of chains like Jo-Anns. It's good for extra stability on bottoms too. Cuts with regular scissors and you can sew it in or use spray adhesive.
Since some people have mentioned a 50% down payment with balance on delivery, I thought I would also share that a lot of stores will not pay for merchandise before it's received. So your choice there is simply to request payment at delivery. (ie. the merch doesn't stay at the store unless you have payment in hand, periiod. That can be you as delivery person, or arranged through UPS if you ship)
The toughest issues for most of us are meeting quantity minimums. The link above, they want 100 pcs per color. It's a lot for me right now but in the overall scheme of manufacturing it's very small. Questions that will need to be discussed regardless of the maker are really related to who does what and how fast and for how much. Think about what you need the maker to do. Just sew? Cut and sew? make a pattern, a marker? Or do you need someone that you can give a sample to and they take everything from there. Will you supply materials? Another note is payment is typically expected at delivery and often you are charged for each pre-production sample they make for you.
Lots to think about. Yell if you have specific questions and I'll do what I can. Bags are a new thing for me but I have lots of years in the apparel biz.
i was going to ask about interfacing too... does it just keep the bag more sturdy? i'm so confused.
Interfacing is various types of product that adds stiffness or support to the item you're sewing. In a shirt, things like collars, cuffs, and front plackets have interfacing to strengthen buttonholes, prevent stretching, or to prevent the collar from being floppy. It comes in 2 major categories, iron-on (also called fusible) and sew-in. There are tons of brands, weights, construction methods. It can be sold by the package (which is a precut piece), by the yard, or even in narrow strips like ribbon. Choice of interfacing depends on what you want to make, the fabric you're using, and some personal preference. For example, I don't like the quality of the pre-packaged stuff so I always buy by the yd, others are okay with it.
To give you a handbag frame of reference, think about a Kate Spade bag. She uses light weight outer fabrics (not leather ususally) and tons of internal support (interfacings, plastics, etc.) to get a very rigid bag. It's the only way to get it to stand up. A droppy canvas cargo bag like some I've seen at the Gap have minor interfacing probably only in pocket flaps, straps, zipper facings, and maybe the bottom. Almost all bags have some even if it's just at stress points like a strap or zipper opening.
There is no easy answer to what to use because we don't know the look you want. So you can ask us for advise after giving some detail or you can go buy 1/2 yds of lots of things and play or both. By the way, interfacing is sold in fabric stores like Joann's often behind the counter, but they'll let you feel the weight. Sew-in vs fusible is preference and fabric. I work with ultrasuede a lot and fusible is a problem in large areas because my fabric shows marks. I can use it for facings and straps. For a canvas bag, I'd choose a mid-weight fusible over a sew-in. Some bags don't use conventional interfacings at all or just in small areas. Cardboard, plastic, and even poly-batting sometimes give the right look. It's all a decision based on the look you want.
Hope I helped rather that confused. Feel free to ask about recommendations based on a specific project.
I think you have an interesting technique for the "pocket" with inserted interfacings. I've never come across that before.
Your comment about having the bottom piece fit precisely is very important. When I'm testing a new bag, I cut it out of a heavy muslin or canvas, draw all the seam allowances on the cut pieces, then assemble the bag (minus lining). Afterwards I can see very quickly where my pattern might need to be adjusted, or if I have a sewing or stretching problem.
Question, how are you putting bag together now? You mention 3 layers being sewn together and removing the needle so i'm a little confused. I see 2 methods both of which leave the lining hanging loose at the bottom. Are you sewing it into the bag seam allowance?
1) sewn frt to side to back to side, forming long rectangle - sew to bottom leaving 1 vertical seam open, close last vertical side seam - assemble lining in same manner (assumes linig pattern is 5 pcs too) - turn back and press seam allowances on bag top and lining top - put lining in to bag - topsititch or hand stitch bag and lining together.
2) assemble bag as above - lining pattern changed to 2 side seams 1 bottom (hard to describe without pictures) - lining is then sewn forming tube bottom left open - with right sides together, sew lining to top of bag, turn then close lining bottom by pulling out of bag, folding seam allowances and stitching closed on right side - forms small tuck.
The Pilgrim bags mention hand sewn lining, no topstich at to edge. So they're some version of #2. If they weren't so expensive, I'd suggest you buy one and rip it apart to see how it's done. In terms of getting nice corners, one trick is to draw in your seam allowance on the fabric using chalk or sewing pencils. It's easiest if your "bottom" piece is on the bttom when you sew. Easier to manipulate the big rectangle around corners. Not sure where your comment about removing needles comes in. Pivot while needle is in fabric at corner yes but remove you lost me? Hope this isn't too confusing.