Link Love – FREE Patterns for the Tiki Tote & the Persimmon Dumpling Pouch

I’ve gotten some requests for more information about two projects I posted on Instagram recently – the Tiki Tote pattern from Bluprint (featured on the Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters) and the Persimmon Dumpling Pouch from Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness. Not only are both these patterns FREE, but they also have free video tutorials that show you exactly how to make them.

My Instagram post showing the Tiki Totes, Persimmon Dumpling Pouch, and a couple of basic zipped pouches.

I found these projects are a lot of fun – both to make and to use.

It all started with a jelly roll (collection of 2.5″ strips) that I picked up on clearance from Bluprint…

Jelly roll – coordinated collection of 2.5″ strips – a fun way to play with a wide selection of fabrics!

Continue Reading…

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Cork and the Clydebank Tote

Have you ever heard of cork fabric? I was dimly aware of it, but it hadn’t really registered for me as something I’d like to try until I came across this post on the Sew Sweetness blog by Sara Lawson. In conjunction with an online book club she is hosting, Sara is posting a free project pattern and video tutorial every month. The first project was the Clydebank Tote, and several of the sample projects featured cork fabric on the side panels. I was intrigued!

I first purchased some cork fabric from Fabric.com, but wasn’t quite happy with the color match when it arrived. So I went back to Sara’s site, which has a great selection in a wide variety of colors.

Note: watch out when you are searching for cork fabric – the fabric I’m referring to in this post is high quality cork with a polyurethane backing and a smooth, leather-like hand. It is NOT regular quilting-weight cotton that has been printed to look like “cork”. Cork fabric is also sometimes referred to as “vegan leather”.

Selection of cork fabric and the Clydebank Tote pattern. (I have plans for the Clammy template and Glam Clam pattern later!) Note: the black cork I eventually used in my tote isn’t shown in this photo.

I opted to use fabrics from my Winter Romance collection in my Spoonflower shop for my tote. Continue Reading…

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Checking Out Lightweight Cotton Twill

So I’m in love with the Kona Cotton Ultra from Spoonflower.com – it’s my go-to fabric choice when ordering, but when the site ran a promotion on Lightweight Cotton Twill, I took a chance and ordered some.

I’m so glad I did!

Lightweight cotton twill fabrics from my Winter Romance collection in my Spoonflower shop. These are all my own designs; but as far as I can tell, you can buy any of the 750,000+ designs at Spoonflower.com in this fabric.

I find the lightweight cotton twill launders well, is super easy to work with (easy to pin and presses well), has a subtle sheen I really like, and is sturdy enough that I don’t need to add lightweight fusible interfacing such as Shape-Flex as I usually do when using quilting-weight cotton to make bags, purses, or home dec items. (I still use foam interfacing when I want a structured bag – even with the twill.)

Here’s a comparison of the two fabrics (info from Spoonflower.com): Continue Reading…

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Adding Structure with Soft and Stable – Review & Tips

One of the really great things about sewing is that you aren’t dependent on what you can find (or afford) in the store – you can create or customize all kinds of things to your specific tastes and needs.

Lately, I’ve been on a streak of making totes, bags and purses.

Since my work (both as Creative Director for Lakeshore Sewing and as a quilt/textile artist and designer for my own business) requires a lot of intense focus and creativity, I find it relaxing to take a bit of a break and let someone else do the basic designing and let me have the fun of customizing to my heart’s content.

I really enjoy it when I get a chance to make something quick and (relatively) easy. And bonus points if it is functional, too!

One of the products I’ve been playing with lately is Soft and Stable from ByAnnie.

Product info from the ByAnnie.com website:

BYANNIE’S SOFT AND STABLE® OVERVIEW

ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable® is a new product which I developed to use in place of batting or other stabilizers in purses, bags, totes, home dec items, and more.

Why use ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable®?

  • Great lasting body and stability
  • Lightweight
  • Maintains shape
  • Gives a professional finish to your project
  • Easy to sew
  • Fabric can be quilted to ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable® or just sewn around the edges of the pieces — no need to quilt every 2 to 4″ as with batting
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Washer and dryer safe

My summary – I love it! But…

I am very happy with the shape, structure, and finish of bags I’ve made with Soft and Stable. They look great, hold their shape, and don’t collapse under the weight of the straps or handles – all while remaining lightweight and easy to carry.  The extra protection for the contents is pretty great, too – especially for things like a phone, tablet, laptop, sewing machine, etc. I’ve given the sewing machine travel bag I made with Soft and Stable away as a gift, but here is another great example of a well-used bag still holding its shape after a couple of years and a lot of use:

One of my favorite travel bags is this duffle, designed and made by my friend and colleague, Laura Witt. Not only did Laura use Soft and Stable to support the bag, she also inserted a strip into the shoulder strap to make the bag more comfortable to carry.

But I don’t always find it as straightforward to use as is sometimes implied…    Continue Reading…

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The 241 Tote from Noodlehead – Review, Part 2

As anyone who sews or quilts can tell you, individual patterns have gotten more and more expensive over the years, especially if you like to seek out and support independent designers. Being able to download patterns and save them as pdfs can help (as opposed to buying printed patterns, with or without paying additional for shipping), but it’s still enough to make you think twice – especially when there is actually a lot of free content (albeit of varying quality) out there.

Here are the factors I consider when thinking about buying a commercial pattern:

  • Clarity – Are the instructions well-written and all measurements accurate? Are the photos and/or illustrations clear and to the point?
  • Value – Am I likely to use this pattern more than once? Can I envision it made up in different colorways or fabric styles?
  • Versatility – Does the pattern offer more than one option? (e.g. different sizes, embellishment possibilities, or optional design elements that can be mixed or matched)
  • Giftability – Is it a design that is likely to appeal to multiple generations (e.g. Would my mom like it? My kids?)

I mentally award bonus points if the pattern gets my own creative juices flowing with lots of possibilities for additional customizations of my own.  🙂

The 241 Tote from Noodlehead (see my previous post for more details) ticks all of these boxes.

In fact, I think it’s one of my favorite commercial tote patterns!

Here is my latest version of the 241 Tote:

The 241 tote – pattern by Noodlehead, adapted by Beth Ann Williams; fabrics from Changing Seasons Collection by Beth Ann Williams at Spoonflower.com

As you can see, I’ve made some changes in the original pattern!

Continue Reading…

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The 241 Tote from Noodlehead – Review, Part I

Did you ever experience a breathless moment in time when you looked up and knew in that brief instant that THIS was THE ONE? 

Ok, let’s get our minds back on track here… I don’t know what you are thinking about, but I’m talking about tote bags. 😉

I love totebags. Cute little purses just don’t have enough room for me to haul all of my necessities around – especially since those necessities usually include a least a few file folders and maybe even a yellow pad. I’m always on the lookout for ideas for new totes – be it different fabric combinations, different bells & whistles (zippers, hardware, pockets, etc.), or different shapes.

What captured my attention about the 241 Tote (2-for-1, get it?) pattern from Noodlehead was the unusual shape and fun side pockets.

The 241 Tote from Noodlehead (photo from pattern page)

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December Wrap-Up & Link Love

What a month! Not only is late November through December extra-busy with the holidays AND one of the most demanding times of the year for my day job as Creative Director for Lakeshore Sewing, but our plumbing saga continued with more water in the basement, where my studio is located. Needless to say, my creative plans for the month had to be adjusted.

But I’m happy to say that I did manage to squeeze in at least a little sewing fun.

Below are 3 of my December projects, plus links to the free patterns I used. All 3 patterns are keepers for me – ones I’m sure I’ll use again. 

Scandiavian Star Ornaments

I was first introduced to these folded & woven fabric ornaments through a delightful instragram post by misterdomestic linking to this tutorial on his YouTube channel.

I also found a handy photo tutorial by Anna Curtiss.

Stow-Away Shopping Bag

I resized the free pattern from Moments Designs (pattern download offered through Craftsy) to make giftable shopping totes that fold into their own snap pouches for storage. I enlarged the pouch slightly because I used heavier fabric than was used in the original pattern. The instructions are terrific, with step-by-step photos for every step. 

Bohemian Bag

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Sewing with Seat Belts

No reviews today – just one more day of seat belt fun before moving on to our next topic. 🙂

This time, I’m showing the Market Tote and Pouches from Cozy Nest Design in different colors. I’m using indigo, royal blue, and lavender blue.

Seat belt webbing from Cozy Nest Design – Check out the swatches on the website to see the full color range.

My second Market Tote. Pattern (3 sizes included) from Cozy Nest Design.

Continue Reading…

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Pattern Reviews

Front view of my Market Tote, pattern from Cozy Nest Design

My last post included my review, some helpful tips, and photos of the Market Tote Pattern from Cozy Nest Design.

Today I’d like to share 2 additional related patterns: the Pouch Trio and the Cosmetic Bag Duo.

Note: All pattern information is from Cozy Nest Design.

Seat Belt Series: Pouch Trio Sewing Pattern

$5.99 (PDF download)

This sewing pattern will take you step-by-step to create a trio of customized pouches made from seat belt webbing. If you have never worked with seat belts before, this is a great project to get you started. Seat belts are shimmery and luxurious, yet extremely durable and easy to clean and sew. The pouches are fully lined and close with a zipper. These pouches are so versatile; use them for make up, accessories, for travel or for every day. You can even dress them up by adding a clasp ring for a matching tassel or wrist strap!

Here are a couple of pouches I made to coordinate with my teal feathers, tropical teal, and minty aqua tote:

Zipped Pouches made from seat belt webbing. Pattern by Cozy Nest Design.

Once again, I found the pattern exceptionally well written. The only time I got into trouble was Continue Reading…

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Pattern Review

Sewing with Seat Belts – Market Tote from Cozy Nest Design

Notes: All pattern information is from Cozy Nest Design.

Seat Belt Series: Market Tote Sewing Pattern

$6.99 (PDF download)

The Market Tote sewing pattern will take you step-by-step to creating a customized bag made of seat belt webbing!  Seat belt webbing is shimmery and luxurious, yet extremely durable  and easy to clean and sew! The tote features 2 exterior slip pockets and a flap accent with metal ring. On the interior you will find a zipped pocket and zipped gusset closure. The handles are 23″ long with a 11″ drop. Instructions are included for 3 different size options.  

Skill level: Intermediate
Finished sizes:
small: 14 x 9 1/2 x 3 3/4″
medium: 15 1/2 x 11 x 3 3/4″
large: 17 x 13 x 3 3/4″

What’s in the pattern:
–  3 complete sets of instructions are included – one for each bag size (small, medium and large)

– imperial and metric measurements
– cutting labels and one pattern piece* for each bag size
– a thoroughly tested design given the thumbs up by my amazing test team
– quality computer-generated line drawings and concise, detailed instructions
* all other pieces are cut based on measurements.

Here are the colors I chose for my first Market Tote:

I chose these 3 colors arranged in blocks for my first tote. Market Tote pattern options include instructions for 1, 2, or 3 colors and solid, stripes or blocks versions.

Continue Reading…

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