accessory design

CMB1Featured: Messenger Bag by Ecolution

Originally created for hard-working couriers, the classic Messenger Bag has been in circulation for several decades. Known for its long-lasting rugged durability and distinctive “envelope” styling, the classic Messenger has been adopted around the world as the everyday all-purpose carryall. Make a simplified version for yourself in hemp, similar to the featured tote from eco-friendly, Ecolution.

You will need:

  • 1 ¼ yds. [1.2 m] of hemp or organic cotton canvas, 54″ [137 cm] wide.
  • ½ yd. [0.5 m] of cotton sateen lining, 54” [137 cm] wide
  • 1 ½ yds. [1.4 m] of fusible interfacing, 45″ [114 cm] wide.
  • 1 closed zipper, 12” long *
  • 1 buckle slider, 2” inner dia. *
  • 1 belt tip hardware, 2” wide *
  • matching cotton thread
  • grid paper

* Match zipper to colour/metal of hardware.

BAG DIMENSIONS:             approximately 4″ x 11.5″ x 14″.

[10 cm x 29.5 cm x 35.5 cm]


Scale: 1 square = 1 inch (25mm)

bag draft

Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces.


bag layBag Body – cut 1X self; cut 1X fusible

Shoulder Strap – cut 1X self

Strap Tab – cut 1X self

Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X fusible

Flap Facing – cut 1X self; cut 1X fusible

Zipper Facing – cut 1X self; cut 1X fusible

Bag Lining – cut 2X lining

Patch Pocket – cut 1X lining

Pocket Bag – cut 2X lining


1. Iron fusible interfacing to back (wrong side) of bag pieces following manufacturer’s directions, except for strap pieces.

2. Make up bag straps. With right sides together (RST), fold strap pieces in half lengthwise and sew along long edge. Press seam open. Align the short ends so that the seam is centered in the middle of the strap width. Stitch across one end only. Trim corners. Turn straps RIGHT SIDE OUT. Press flat with long seam at center. Topstitch around perimeter of straps if desired. On open end, attach a metal belt tip on long strap and a buckle/slider on the short strap. Set aside.

3. Prepare bag lining. On the patch pocket, turn under the top edge ¼” [6mm] and press. Turn top edge once more: ¾” [20mm] and stitch down. Turn and press seam allowance on remaining three sides.

With one of the bag lining pieces FACE UP, center the patch pocket and edge-stitch along pocket sides and bottom.

With RST, center-align and match flap facing to top of body lining piece.

With RST, align and match remaining bag lining piece to this lining section. Stitch side seams and press open.

Stitch 2” [50mm] on each end of the bottom seam; then align the side seam to the bottom seam and sew across the seams to create a miter. Set aside.

stay4. Prepare flap pocket. Begin by aligning the zipper facing with the top of the flap, right sides together.  Stitch an outline of the pocket opening equal to the length of the zipper teeth X half the zipper’s width.

(eg. 12 inches X ⅜” + seam allowance)

Carefully clip diagonally at the corners of the stitching and turn the zipper facing FACE UP. Press seam flat.

zipperWith the flap piece FACE UP, align and center the zipper FACE UP in the indentation. Edge-stitch around pocket opening to secure the zipper.

With RST, sew one pocket bag piece to the bottom edge of the zipper facing.

Flip the lining downward and topstitch along the seam.

With flap piece FACE DOWN, align and match remaining pocket bag piece to top of zipper. Stitch zipper to lining; then stitch sides of pocket bag.

Trim the excess from the lining on the bottom of the pocket bag and sew bottom seam. Set aside.

miter5. Construct the body of the bag. With RST, fold the bag body together and match up the side seams. Sew side seam and press open.

Miter the bottom corners by aligning the side seam in the center of the bottom edge and stitch across the seam.  Turn bag RIGHT SIDE OUT.

With RST, align and match top of body to flap. Stitch across top edge, ensuring the catch the zipper tape in the seaming. Grade seam allowance and press seam away from zipper. On the FACE SIDE, topside along the zippered seam.

6. Assemble the bag. With RST, insert bag body into bag lining. Align and match up outer edges of flap and flap facing. Line up the raw edges of the bag x stitchopening. Stitch around the opening and the flap. Grade and trim seam allowances. Turn bag RIGHT SIDE OUT through opening in bottom of lining. Press the perimeter of the flap and the opening edge flat. Top-stitch around flap and opening.

Slipstitch opening in lining closed.

7. Complete the bag. Align the square end of the straps to each side of the messenger bag. Place each approximately 4” [10 cm] from the top edge of the bag opening and sew an X-stitch through all layers. Hook the shoulder strap into the buckle slider and adjust the desired length.


UPDATE: Though this blog is closed now, I have been getting inquiries about this simple zipper application. Here are the steps:

hooded cowlFeatured: Missoni Hooded Scarves

For Fall ’09, Missoni is staying true to the label’s knitwear traditions and producing plenty of fabulous pieces including an abundance of hooded scarves. Design one up for yourself and make use of that fabulous knit remnant you have been saving for something special or go big as featured here.


You will need:

  • ¾  yd. [0.7 m] of stable knit fashion fabric, 60” [152 cm] wide
  • Matching thread


DIMENSIONS: approx. 30” long x 12” wide  [76 cm x 30 cm]



This is a patternless design (a simple block draft). You can plot it directly onto your fabric but you will need to straighten the cut ends of your fabric before you are going to cut. The corners should be 90°.  The rectangle should be about 60 inches  long and 25 inches wide [152 cm x 63.5 cm].  Once that is done, you are ready to cut out the shape.


Fold the fabric into quarters both vertically and horizontally and align the raw edges (fig.1). At the “open” corner, measure 12” [30.5 cm] from the corner and mark location with a pin (■).

Draw an arc using a circular template (I used a large pie plate) with tailor’s chalk at the corner.

Cut through all 4 layers and remove the excess fabric.

cowl draft



Open the fabric flat and refold it in the long direction with the right sides facing together.

Stitch the curved ends together between the ■ using a ¼” [6mm] seam allowance. (fig.2)


Open the fabric as a “tube” and refold it in the narrow direction with the right sides facing together. Align the sewn seam and match up the open raw edges. Clip the seam allowance at the ■, if necessary.


Stitch around the open edge of the loop using a ¼” [6 mm] seam allowance and leave a 6” [15 cm] opening to turn out. (fig.3) Turn the garment right side out and slip-stitch the opening closed.


lifewithbirdbag_notcotFeatured: Turtle Tote by LIFEwithBIRD

An exercise in stylish functionality by Aussie line LIFEwithBIRD. A roomy, oversized canvas carryall, it can seamlessly go from work to after-hours party to weekend getaway, all without missing a beat. Here is a similar carpetbag version easy to draft and make up for your daytripping.

You will need:

  • 1 ¾ yds. [1.5m] canvas or upholstery fabric, 54” [137 cm] wide
  • 1 heavy-duty zipper, 18” [46 cm] long
  • 1 ½ yds. [1.4 m] heavy webbing, 2” [50 mm] wide
  • All-purpose thread
  • Cardboard
  • Kraft paper

DESIGN TIP: Match zipper colour with webbing strap colour.

DIMENISONS: approx. 20” X 10” X 15”   (51 cm X 25.5 cm X 38 cm)


bag draft

Add ½” [12mm] seam allowances to all pattern pieces.


layCut 2 of each piece in fabric.

Cut 2 straps from webbing – 26” long

Cut a rectangle 20” X 10” in cardboard


1. Prepare the base. With right sides together, stitch around the perimeter of the base layers, leaving one short end opening. Turn base right side out and press. Insert cardboard into base piece and slipstitch opening closed. Set aside.


2. Prepare patch pockets. Turn under 2” [50 mm] of top edge of pocket pieces and press. Hem turned edge. Turn under pocket side seam allowances and press flat. Set aside.


NOTE: A dome snap, Velcro® tab or zipper may be added to the patch pocket opening if desired. Do so at this time following manufacturer’s directions.


3. With right sides together (RST), align and match raw edges of bag at A and B. Stitch a 1” [25 mm] seam at A and B. Press seam allowance open.


4. zipperCenter zipper FACE down along opening in seam. Stitch zipper tape to seam allowances.

Turn bag FACE UP and topstitch on either side of seam and zipper.


5. With RST, align and match seams between A-C and B-D. Sew seam and press. Turn bag right side out and topstitch along both sides of the seam on the FACE side.



6. On FACE side, center a patch pocket over the  seam between the ● and edge-stitch along the pocket sides.


7. Attach ends of webbing strap at X at A and at B (on either side of zipper opening).

miterOpen zipper and turn out bag through opening. With RST, join A to A and sew across seam, ensuring the straps are caught in the seam. (Be careful not to twist the straps.)

Repeat on opposite side for B to B.


8. Join C-D together (RST) and press seam open. On FACE side, topstitch on either side of the seam.


9. Align and match C to C and D to D. Sew seams, ensuring you catch the bottom of the patch pocket in the stitching.

10. Turn bag right side out through zipper opening. Place self-lined cardboard base into bottom of bag for support.

tiesFeatured: Silk ties by Terrence Dobbs

Make Dad your own specially-designed tie for Father’s Day.

Fresh from the Hamptons, Terrence Dobbs will inspire you with his ‘Father & Son’ ties.

You will need:

  • 1 square yard [meter] of fashion fabric (try something silky)
  • coordinating thread
  • kraft paper


This tie is drafted by height.

The four major parts of the necktie draft equation are the length of the tie from the big tip to the knot, the knot itself, the tie around the neck, and finally the tail end of the tie that is hidden behind the front of the tie. The length should be reasonable so that when one tip is touching the belt buckle, the other tip can be securely held in place in the carrier on the back side.

Height = measure vertically from top of head to heels.

Neck measurement = measure around base of neck.

Tie Width = 3.5 – 4 inches [9-10 cm] (it can vary on current fashion)

Tie Knot = 5 inch allowance [12.5 cm] (Half-Windsor type)

Take a length of kraft paper and fold it lengthwise. (You may glue 2 pieces together if needed).

Along the fold, plot the following:

draftA-B = 0.30 of the height

B-C = neck measurement + ½” [12mm]

C-D = knot allowance

D-E = 0.30 of the height – 3” [75mm]

Square 90° across from foldline at all points.

F-C =  0.75 of tie width

G-C = C-F

Join F and  G with a straight line.

H is mid-point of F-G.

I-C = C-D

J-I = C-F

K-A = tie width; square up.

L-K = K-A

M-L = K-A

Join M to J with a straight line.

Join L to H with a straight line.

Using a set square placed on line L-H, square a line from A to locate N on line M-J.

Join L-A and L-N with a straight line.

O-E = 0.50 of the tie width

O-P = E-O

P-Q = E-O

Join Q and  F with a straight line.

Join P and  H with a straight line.

Using a set square placed on line P-H, square a line from E to locate R on line Q-F.

Join P-E and P-R with a straight line.

Join F to J with a straight line.

At B and D, draw a 1” x 1” square [25mm X 25mm] with one of its sides positioned on the foldline.

Add 3/8” [1cm] seam allowance around the perimeter of the tie pattern.

grainlineCut out the tie pattern and open the folded paper.

Extend line F-G across the pattern piece. Cut through line F-G.

Draw a grainline through opposite corners of the square box at B and D.


layCut 1X self for upper portion of tie.

Cut 1X self for under portion of tie.

Cut 1X self for carrier – 6” X 2 ½” [150 mm X 65mm]

Tip: A rotary cutter is ideal for cutting fabric on bias grain.


1. Make a carrier loop 6 inches by 1 ½ inches [150mm X 40mm].

2. With right sides facing, align and match upper and under portions of tie together at center seam. Pin/baste and stitch seam using a ¼” [5mm] seam allowance. Press seam open.

3. With right sides facing, align and match each tie end along raw edges. Pin/baste and sew each tie point using a 3/8” [1cm] seam allowance. Press seam open. Grade and trim points. Turn tie right side out.

Tip: A wooden chopstick lets you get into tight corners when pressing a seam open.

4. Fold the tie fabric with wrong sides together; align and match raw edges along length of tie. Baste both layers together.

This tie is self-lined. Select which side of the tie will be the face side.

5. Fold the tie carrier in half to form a loop and secure it 10” [25.5cm] from the front tip on the face side of the tie. Sew it to the seam allowance.

6. With the tie face down, fold the basted raw edge 3/8” [1cm] over the center of the tie along its length. Herringbone stitch along the raw edge catching only the top layers of fabric.

Tip: Use waxed thread and a new needle whenever doing hand-stitching.

7. Place the folded edge over the basted raw edges and align to center (careful  not to stretch fabric).  Slipstitch along folded edge, catching only the top layer of fabric to complete the tie.

8. Without touching the  fabric, gently steam the tie  shape. Let fabric cool before handling. (Do not press the tie.)

cape1Featured: Escada Wrap

Here are my favourite bold colour combos for cosy sueded fabrics for those of you planning your new wrap for the spring/summer season. Just in case it looks intimidating, rest assured this is a patternless fashion design (a simple block draft) where the beauty of the fabric shines and bold colour is the star.

You will need:

  • 1 yd [90cm] of fashion fabric, 60” [150cm] wide in colour A*
  • 1 yd [90cm] of fashion fabric, 60” [150cm] wide in colour B*
  • 12 yd. [11m] of double-side flat braid, 2” [50mm] wide
  • Matching crochet yarn (pearl cotton or wool) to make 11 tassels
  • Coordinating thread

Designer Tip:

* Analogous colour schemes – use any colour that lie adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. Your choice of hue may be any tint, shade, or tone.

  • color-wheelRed + Orange
  • Red + Violet
  • Yellow + Green
  • Yellow + Orange
  • Blue + Green
  • Blue + Violet

DIMENSIONS: Approx. 60” X 60” [150 cm X 150cm].


Cut each fabric across its width to create two pairs of panel equal to 16” X 60” [40.5cm X 150cm].  Alternatively, if you desire a longer wrap, cut the panels along the fabric’s length to the desired finished length. (You will need to purchase extra fabric).



1. Make 11 tassel from yarn. (I used black embroidery wool) Make the cardboard template equal to twice the length of the finished tassel and fold it in half. Wind yarn around template as thick as you desire. Tie off across top and cut through bottom with scissors. Wrap more yarn around the top end and create a tassel.

2.  Sew one panel of each colour together (I used double-sided microfibre sand-washed silk) with wrong sides facing. Press seam open.

wrap 1
3. Sew each pair together with wrong sides facing, allowing one end of seam to be open for 35” [89cm]. Press seam open and seam allowances flat on face side of fabric.
Apply flat braid (I used black grosgrain ribbon) over the seam allowances of the three seams.

wrap 2

4. Sew flat braid to edge of center opening in fabric, folding ribbon in a mitre at the turn.

wrap 3

5. Sew flat braid to perimeter of fabric, beginning and completing at the center slit opening and miter ribbon braid at each corner.

wrap 4

6. Attach a tassel to corners of wrap and at each seam intersection. (6 total on front hem and 5 total on back hem)

br-wool-cloche-hatFeatured: Cloche hat from Banana Republic

A buckled cloche for Spring.  Easy-peasy and pretty!

You will need:

  • Graph paper
  • approx. 1 yd. of fusible interfacing, 45″ wide
  • approx. 1 yd. of bottom-weight or upholstery fashion fabric, 54″-60″ wide
  • approx. 1/2 yd. of lining fabric, 45″ wide
  • approx. 3/4 yd. of grosgrain ribbon, 2″ wide
  • 1 belt buckle, 1 ½” wide
  • coordinating thread


This hat draft is a medium size for a head circumference of approximately 23” [58.5cm].



Grid: 1 square = 1 inch [25 mm]

Add ½  inch seam allowances to all pattern pieces.

Trace out and cut pattern shapes on fold of graph paper.


Cut the crown side 2X; lining 2X ; interfacing 2X

Cut the crown top 1X; lining 1X; interfacing 1X

Cut the brim 2X; interfacing 1X

Cut the belt strap 2X; interfacing 1X

Cut the sweatband (grosgrain ribbon) 24” long  X 2″ wide.


1. Iron fusible interfacing to wrong side of each crown piece and to one of each of the brim and strap pairs, following manufacturer’s directions.
2. On each brim piece, pin and baste CB seam with right side together. Stitch seam using a ½” seam allowance and press open.
3. Layer the 2 brim pieces with right sides facing together and align the CB seams. Pin/baste outer edges together. Sew around the perimeter of the brim.
4. Grade and trim the seam allowance and turn brim right side out. Press outer edge flat.
TIP: Due to fabric thickness, it is important to grade the seam allowances as you sew. The bulk will reduce the headfitting measurement. You may also take less of the seam allowance to account for the bulk.

5. Topstitch outer edge of brim.  (I use the width of the presser foot as a spacer.) The more stitching you put, the stiffer the brim. Set aside.
6. Layer the belt strap pieces with right sides facing together. Align and match up raw edges and pin/baste together. Machine-stitch across one short end and along the 2 long edges. Grade and trim seam allowances and turn strap right side out. Press outer edges flat. Topstitch around perimeter of the strap. Set aside.
7. Pin/baste the side pieces to the top section, with right sides facing together. Ease the straight edges into the curved ones. Machine-stitch the 2 side seams of the crown portion. Press the seam open. (You may need to clip the seam allowance to get it to lie flat.) Turn the crown right side out.
8. Repeat the same method for the hat lining. Insert the lining into the hat crown with wrong sides facing together. Baste lining to crown around the circumference of the crown.
9. Align the CF and CB and the Xs of the crown and the brim. Match up these points, pin and basting with right sides together. Machine stitch the crown section to the brim, using a ½” seam allowance.
10. Sew in grosgrain ribbon as a “sweatband”. This should equal the head fitting measurement. Lay the ribbon on top of the seam allowance along the top of the brim and edge stitch along the ribbon edge. Overlap at CB. Grade and trim  the seam allowance . Turn the ribbon up into the crown to conceal the raw edge of the seam allowance and tack to CB of hat with hand stitching.
11. On the left side of the hat exterior above the seamline of the brim, handstitch the open end of the belt strap to the center of the crown side piece using a narrow seam allowance. (Do this with the belt strap pointing to the front of the hat.) Fold the strap back onto itself and slip on the buckle. Wrap the strap around the hat’s crown and slip loose end into the buckle. (Add punched eyelets if you are using a pronged belt buckle).

The Ruffled Handbag pattern tutorial has been removed by the request of the designer. To view this design, check

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