Cultivated Tote Bag

Today’s finished project is made with beautiful fabric courtesy of Art Gallery Fabrics.  The line is designed by Bonnie Christine and is called Cultivate. See more about Bonnie and her creative life on her blog, Going Home to Roost, and follow her on Instagram, @goinghometoroost


I love books and am often hauling armfuls of them back and forth to the library and taking piles of them on trips with me. I definitely needed a big, square-ish tote bag to make this easier. Enter a gorgeous stack of Art Gallery Fabric and not only would I have a useful tote, but a stylish one too!!


cultivated tote bag


The bag measures 15 1/2″ wide (including the binding), 14 1/2″ high and 5″ deep.  I didn’t use a pattern, just decided on the measurements and started cutting. The fabrics are so pretty that I didn’t want to cut them into small squares or pieces.  Basic square patchwork seemed the ideal choice, and I cut them 4.5″ and I used a 3/8″ seam allowance.


cultivated tote bag


Natural cotton canvas and a layer of quilt batting provided the stability the bag needed.  I also used the canvas for the straps, bottom and facings.  The blue roses print is my favorite and is featured on the sides of the bag.

The side seams are sewn with wrong sides together and then bound with fabric.  The reason for this design decision was to not only add an interesting detail, but because it actually helps the bag maintain its shape.


cultivated tote bag detail


A good tote bag needs some sort of closure so nothing falls out.  I added a zipper with side tabs – the easiest zipper installation ever!  Extending the end beyond the bag and adding another tab to the end allows it to open up to the full width of the bag (and those zipper tabs look so cute!)


cultivated tote bag zipper


cultivated tote bag zipper


More pretty fabric for the lining and an inside pocket with one of my Spoonflower printed labels.





If you like this bag, I will be making a pattern for it. I don’t want to be that girl that keeps promising patterns and not delivering, (where is that Austin Bag??) but this one is fairly straightforward and within my capabilities. It will be done.


My lovely model here gives you the perspective of the bag’s size. It fits nicely on the shoulder with about a 12″ drop. And isn’t she cute?


cultivated tote bag and sophie


Thank you so much to Art Gallery Fabrics for making the Cultivated Tote Bag possible. To celebrate National Sewing Month (you knew that right?), they are featuring lots of inspiration on their blog and on Instagram (@ArtGalleryFabrics) where they encourage you to share your projects and tag them #AGFsewingmonth.


Thank you for visiting today and have a great weekend!!


Zipper Pouch Tutorial



It seems the most unsatisfactory thing about zipper pouches is those pesky corners and ill-fitting linings. This method eliminates both!! The zipper is not actually sewn into the side seam – the tab encases the ends of the zipper. Then the sides are sewn with the lining in place – there’s no stuffing the lining inside the pouch. Seam binding covers the raw edges for a neat finish.

Before you start, you will need:

  • fabric for outside of pouch – one fat quarter or assorted scraps at least 10″ wide
  • fabric for lining – one fat quarter or scraps at least 10″ x 8″
  • interfacing – 10″ x 16″
  • nylon coil zipper 11″ or longer
  • basic sewing supplies



Cut all of the following 7 ¼” x 9½”:

  • (2) outer pouch fabric ∗
  • (2) lining fabric
  • (4) interfacing

Cut two squares 2″ x 2″ for the zipper tabs

For seam binding, cut from lining fabric a strip 1 1/8″ x 18″

Fuse interfacing to the outer pouch pieces and the lining pieces.


∗FOR THE PATCHWORK VERSION, cut the following and sew together with ¼” seam allowances. Then fuse the interfacing to the pieced section.

patchwork layout

Now you are ready to sew. I thought a picture-tutorial would be useful for this so that you can see every step:
















Cut the seam binding pieces from the 1 1/8″ x 18″ strip you cut from the lining fabric.




Turn the pouch right side out. Push the corners out with your fingers and gently roll seams to press. You are done!!




I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, feel free to contact me with any questions!

Happy Sewing,


Liberty Zipper Pouch

I don’t make  zipper pouches. It’s not that I don’t like them – I do! So cute and so useful for toting and storing all the bits and bobs I am so good at acquiring. The problem for me is that I haven’t been able to find a pattern that I like because I have issues with the corners! I want a nice square corner with no smooshing of the zipper and boxed corners at the bottom. There has to be a way to get what I want without being too difficult or fiddly (I despise fiddly!), so I studied some ready made bags and then made this:







I pretty much love it! The secret is zipper tabs and seam binding for a perfect zipper insertion and square corners.  It measures about 7″ x 9″, big enough to stash my stuff, yet small enough to tuck into a purse.

Liberty of London Tana lawn has been a favorite of mine since I made dresses for my girls when they were small, but the cost can leave you in tears! I bought a fat sixteenth bundle from that has 25 prints in a rainbow of colors for a reasonable price (just don’t do the math to see what you are paying per yard). It is perfect for small projects like this and I believe that a little bit of Liberty goes a long way!!

The linen in Robert Kaufmann Essex in natural which I think pairs beautifully with the Liberty prints.

Oh, and the little zipper pull? I had the charm and then blinged it up a little with some silver beads and a Swarovski crystal. This was totally fiddly, but I think worth it!


I thought I might write up a pattern or tutorial for the pouch, but then I thought that the sewing world does not need one more zipper pouch tutorial!  It’s such a great method, though and I would be happy to if there is interest, just leave me a comment.


Hope you are having a great week and are fitting in some creative time!

Happy Sewing,



Metal Frame Clutch Purse

metal frame and fabric clutch


This little clutch makes such a great gift and you can easily whip one up in an afternoon! It looks hard, but it really isn’t – the frame is simply glued in place.

I first learned how to make it at the Sew South retreat a couple of years ago. These are the required supplies:

  • pattern by Diane Stanley, available here
  • 8″ x 3″ metal frame and Gütermann glue (this is crucial!!), both available here
  • two fat quarters
  • fusible fleece – I used Pellon Thermolam
  • fusible interfacing – I used Pellon Deco-Fuse

The finished size is about 9″ x 6″, which allows a large-scale floral to really show off! On this one, I have used an Anna Maria Horner print from Free Spirit Fabrics. On the inside, Pearl Bracelets in “Pond” add a nice punch of color!

metal frame clutch inside


My tips for gluing in the frame? Fold the sides in and start at the center of the top. I only put glue along the top edge for this. Then I glue the side edges of the frame and insert the fabric. I push it all in tightly with a wooden skewer. Any wayward glue can be wiped off and I let one side dry completely before doing the other side. The glue does have a strong odor, so be sure to be in a well ventilated area when gluing.

This one was a gift for a swap at The Stash Bash last weekend, but I loved it so much, I think I need to make some more!!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

Thanks for visiting and as always, Happy Sewing!!


The Tessa Basket and Maker Fabrics

It was just a matter of time before I made a Tessa basket.  I have been pretending that the pattern is named after me, but it was written by Bonnie at Pink Stitches and I am pretty sure she has no idea of my existence. Since we share a name, though, I thought it an appropriate gift to make for my friend Lee!


I was inspired by Amy’s version and used the Maker collection by Art Gallery Fabrics plus the arrow print from Maureen Cracknell’s Wild & Free. The pattern is versatile with regards to size – my quilted panels were 14.5″ x 18.5″ before cutting the top curves. With the 5″ boxed corners, this is a roomy basket, perfect for taking projects to class!

I used fusible fleece and a layer of Pellon SF101 for stability, but to be honest, I would have preferred it to be a bit sturdier. A layer of the interfacing on the lining or using a heavier one like Deco Bond would have done the trick.

The only change I made to the pattern was to use 1 1/2″ cotton web for the handles. The pattern calls for 1″ so I had to adjust the side curve to allow for the wider web. I also added the strip of fabric to the handles, top stitched in place.



Maker  is such a great fabric line for sewing related projects! I used the gold hangar print in the inside. So cute!




The Tessa basket was fun and easy to make, and with the versatility, I can be sure I will be making it again! More importantly, Lee loved it and that’s why we gift handmade!!

Thanks for the great pattern, even if it wasn’t named after me!


tessa basket and art gallery maker


Happy Sewing!!


The Austin Bag

As a fairly new member of the Modern Quilt Guild and with my first Quilt Con just a week away, I need an ultra-cool, modern bag to disguise the fact that I am really not that modern! Despite being neither pink nor flowery (told you I’m not modern), I am a big fan of Carolyn Friedlander prints and had two mini charm packs on hand that I thought would be perfect for this project.


Limited by the amount of 2 1/2″ squares I had, I designed this bag with a patchwork pocket panel that goes all the way around the outside.  It is stitched down at the corners, creating four separate pockets. After taking these pictures, though, I might stitch down the middle of one of the side pockets to make two smaller pockets, one will be just right for my phone.

The “leather” accents add a richness as well as a professional touch.  I used an upholstery vinyl from JoAnn Fabrics that looks and feels like the real thing, even on the back. This enabled me to have the raw edges exposed, reducing bulk in the seams. To top stitch, I used a jeans needle (size 100 and very sharp) and it sewed through four thicknesses like butter.

To attach the strap, I bought this rivet setting kit from the craft store. I’ve never done this before, but there was no way my machine was going to sew through eight layers of faux leather so I thought I would give it a try. It was super easy and worked great, although I am pretty sure that I hammered the heck out of the rivets a little more than necessary!

Isn’t the lining fabric sweet? It was also found at JoAnn Fabrics, in with the regular quilting cottons which I usually bypass, but those sweet yellow flowers grabbed my attention and when I felt the softness, I was pleasantly surprised and bought two yards!  I might be going back to buy the rest of the bolt!

I wanted the bag to have a “slouchy” feel so just used one layer of fusible fleece as a stabilizer. I quilted through the fabric and the fleece and added the lining separately. The patchwork is quilted by stitching on both sides of the seams, and the bag body is quilted with straight lines at about 1 cm intervals (the edge of my presser foot).

Making a bag without a pattern was not without it’s uh-oh moments. Like when I was so eager to find out if the bag and pocket panel would fit together that I sewed the side seams before installing the zipper. And I wasn’t sure how the whole bag, lining, zipper thing would work so I tried it a different way on either side of the zipper. Fortunately the difference is only visible on the inside!

Additional bag details:
dimensions – about 16″ x 12″ x 6″ (base is 13″ x 6″)
fabric – Robert Kaufman yarn dyed linen in “flax”
one mini charm pack Carolyn Friedlander “Doe”
one mini charm pack Carolyn Friedlander Robert Kaufman favorites
 yellow flower, Heather Tozzi for GCD Studios, David Textiles
Stabilizer – Pellon Thermolam TP971F
Thread – Coats & Clark machine quilting cotton, “temple gold”
trim – JoAnn Fabrics Upholstery vinyl, “Cordova chocolate”
zipper – Coats & Clark 18″ purse zipper, “dogwood”
hardware – antique square ring, Everything Mary
modern patchwork tote bag doe fabric the sewing chick

I am so pleased with how this bag turned out that I think it would make a great pattern. Since I’ve worked out the what-not-to-do and the proportions, it is ” just” a matter of writing up the instructions and creating some diagrams. Hopefully soon!!

Linking up with these great linky parties:

My Quilting Infatuation – Needle & Thread Thursday
Crazy Mom Quilts – Finish It Up Friday
Confessions of a Fabric Addict – Can I Get a Whoop Whoop
T.G.I.F.F. – this week at Quilt Matters

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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