A new bag pattern


Step by Step tote

I’m happy to let you know that I have a new simple tote bag pattern available on Etsy. I call it the First Steps Tote Bag because the pattern is very straightforward, and would make an ideal project for someone who is getting back into sewing, or who hasn’t sewn for a long time. There’s lots of straight lines to sew, and nice big half inch seams to play with. The pattern is very detailed, and thoroughly tested by stitchers at my sewing classes and by pattern testers too (very big thanks to them!).

Here’s another version I made:

finished bag

The little trim is a very achievable challenge which makes this simple tote shape a little bit out of the ordinary. As usual with my patterns, there are loads of pictures and the instructions are as detailed as I can possibly make them. Great for beginners of course, but if you are an experienced stitcher after a very quick-to-sew and reliable bag pattern, then I hope this will tempt you!


Very Berry Patterns on Etsy

So, one of the reasons why I have been so very quiet on here lately is that I have been focusing my mind very hard on writing patterns for the workshops I am teaching at Hollies Haberdashery and at my Studio. What has been brilliant, and a bit unexpected, is that I have had such lovely feedback from students about how easy to follow the patterns are, and how much they appreciate the level of detail that I include. So, I have decided to take the plunge and am starting to sell them in my Etsy shop. It’s a slow process because I am getting volunteers to test them thoroughly before I put them up for sale – but my first pattern is now available!

As you can see, it is a nice big roomy tote bag. It is a pattern that would suit confident beginners – it includes a internal zipped pocket and has a flat base – great first bag techniques to learn. There are loads of photos and as much information as I can think of about all the steps involved. The pattern runs to a little over 16 pages, so you can tell it has a LOT of detail, and my aim is to guide you through the process as smoothly as I can.

I’ve used the pattern several times myself – this one was the original class sample:

Here’s how the internal zip looks:

It’s a great zipped pocket for a beginner to tackle because you don’t need to fiddle around with a zipper foot, and it’s fairly straightforward to get a lovely neat finish. My pattern tester was a bit worried about this bit, but very pleased with the results.

Here’s the early prototype version that I got to keep for myself – I am using it as my everyday work/shopping bag. I really love mix and matching the fabrics, and I added a bit of appliqué on this one:

All the trimmings tote

And a version made for a friend, with more appliqué:

Tote bag for Lisa

And here’s the lovely version that my pattern tester Gwawr made – isn’t it gorgeous!


Hope it takes your fancy! And if it does and you decide to buy, I’m really happy to help with questions and see and share pictures of your finishes.

And there’ll be more Very Berry patterns to come… 🙂  And, oh yeah, if you fancy being one of my pattern testers, and getting hold of a pattern for free, do follow me on Instagram.

Zippy pouches and fear

I’ve been making zipped pouches recently using my own free sewing tutorial. I need the pattern to be totally fresh in my head because I am teaching a zipped pouch workshop at Hollies Haberdashery next Saturday morning.

Zipped pouch by Very Berry Handmade from free tutorial

I’m looking forward to helping my students get over that awful fear of zips that seems to afflict so many people. In response to the first blog post in my series on unlocking creativity in your sewing, Helen pointed out how strange it is that something that is supposed to relax you can actually be a cause of stress.

Facebook event image

On the same day that I read Helen’s comment, I also saw a passionate post on the UK Quilters group on Facebook from a lady who teaches free motion quilting (a definite source of stress to me) pleading for people to come to her classes ready to relax and enjoy FMQ instead of arriving all fearful and tense.

My experience of teaching so far tells me how important it is (and how tricky it is!) to help people relax. Maybe evening lessons with a large glass of wine to hand is the answer 😉

Pouch by Ali Burdon of Very Berry handmade for class
I added a zip pull to this version of my zipped pouch (sadly we won’t have time for this next Saturday) – if you want to have a go, I have a tutorial for making a fabric zip pull too.

I’ve been musing on all this, and of course, it’s not really the sewing that is the problem, just our fear of messing up and making a mistake. And of course, in the class situation there’s that rather nasty fear of messing up in front of a group of people you don’t know, and the scary teacher person (although I hope I’m not too scary)…

There’ll be more about sewing-related fears (which is an epic subject for me!) and ways to let them go, in Monday’s blog post in my creativity and sewing series.