My Pattern Design Process: Part 1


Hi everyone! My site re-launch has prompted lots of interest in my patterns! I’m happy to see so many new members in my Facebook group and can’t wait to see what everyone starts making.

There are SO many bags and patterns out there, and many of them look alike. I thought I’d start a series of posts describing my thought process when designing a new pattern. This is part 1 of that series.

We all know that bags can easily be made in a factory with several machines each dedicated to one particular function. What I strive for is to come up with a design that looks like those professional bags, but can be made in a home or studio setting. These are the main things I keep in mind when designing, writing, and publishing a sewing pattern.

Unique Techniques

I introduce something completely new with each of my patterns. It needs to either look different or be constructed in a new manner. My patterns will not just be reused methods (except for my own methods!), and they won’t just be redesigns of existing patterns. You are guaranteed to learn something NEW.

Same Results Every Time

If I can’t do it with the same exact results every time, it goes back to the drawing board. If I struggle with it, then other bagmakers will likely struggle, too. I want my instructions to be foolproof.

Low Bulk

I aim to keep all seams and overlaps as thin as possible. I think of and consider each layer, and decide whether it’s truly necessary, or can be cut out or reduced. Sometimes this means trimming, sometimes it means a larger seam allowance that can lay flatter. Every instruction, dimension, and seam allowance in my patterns is intentional.

Function and Form

The design needs to work as a bag/wallet! Does it hold enough? Too much? Too little? Is it hard to reach in? Is it comfortable to carry? I carry and use my prototypes for weeks before writing up the pattern.

Efficient Assembly

My pattern instructions showcase the easiest and most straightforward way to construct that particular bag/wallet. If there’s a shortcut, I already thought of it and either included it or rejected it. Don’t be tempted to skip any steps! I include a Table of Contents at the beginning of each pattern, which serves as a quick step-by-step for the pattern once you’ve made it a couple of times. My patterns are great for solo bagmakers that like to work production-style!

Physically Possible to Sew

Bags are much easier to sew when you have a variety of machines, including a cylinder bed machine or free arm machine. Not all bagmakers have several machines. I might have a vision of how I want something to look, but if I can’t sew it due to physical constraints, then I need to change something. I share lots of tips on how I am physically able to sew something, when it doesn’t seem possible or intuitive.

Reduced Printing

I include ALL pattern pieces for bagmakers who prefer to trace and cut. But, I don’t like to print documents, so I also include cutting charts with pattern piece dimensions. If the piece has a cutout, I’ll note how to cut it out of the full rectangular piece. For a recent pattern, I included “Paper Saver Pieces” that included only the curved/shaped part of a pattern piece. This way, the full piece could be cut using the dimensions in the chart, and then the curved/shaped part could be traced and then further cut.

I hope you enjoyed reading! What’s BEHIND the design can be what really makes a pattern designer stand out.