Mixed Bag (Part II)


Wow! Thank you so much for the amazing response to my little drawstring bag tutorial! I get a bit giddy whenever I see that my lovely stitchy friends are pinning my projects! There was a lot of interest specifically in my pocket drawstring pouch so I thought I'd give some additional details on the embellishments for that bag and all the others as well, just in case. This tutorial is just for the decorations, for the full instructions on sewing the bags click here!

Pocket Pouch

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch
For the pocket, you'll need a piece of fabric measuring 2-1/2" W x 3-1/4" H (6.4cm x 8.3cm).

1. Fold over one of short edges 1/4" (6mm) toward the wrong side and press with an iron. Edge stitch. (The sides of my fabric are pinked because I used a jelly roll precut)

2. Fold over the same end, again toward the wrong side, this time 3/4" (1.9cm). Press and sew over the original stitch line.

3. Fold over the bottom short edge to the wrong side 1/4" (6mm), then the long sides, pressing all folds to crease.

4. Mark your placement lines on your big rectangle except you'll want the bottom of the pocket to be about 3/8" (1cm) from the fold (drawstring pouch tutorial, Embellish Step 2) and pin the pocket to the fabric.

5. Sew the sides and bottom of the pocket with a scant 1/8" seam allowance. Sew another seam inside the first, with a scant 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance.

6. Sew a button to the pocket (my button is 5/8" or 1.6cm in diameter).

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch

Purple Pouch

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch

1. Mark a line for the bottom of the lace at 1/2" (1.3cm) from the fold (Embellish, Step 2).

2. Sew on the lace first, then twill measuring tape (or other trim) on top of the lace.

3. For the fabric tag, cut a piece of fabric 1-1/2" W x 2" L (3.8cm x 5.1cm).

4. Press the long edges 1/4" (6mm) toward the wrong side.

5. Fold the fabric in half so that it measures 1" (2.5cm) in length and press.

6. Ladder stitch the folded edges, then insert the fabric "tag" (Embellish, Step 4). Sew a small button to just the top layer after the bag has been assembled.

 REtro Mama drawstring pouch

Patchy Pouch

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch

The dimensions for my patches were red: 1-1/4"W x 1-3/4"H (3.2cm x 4.4cm), blue: 1-1/8" square (2.9cm), and strawberries: 1-3/8"W x 1-1/4"H (3.5cm x 3.2cm)

1. Back each of your selected fabrics with a small square of Wonder Under fusible web (following package instructions), then peel up a corner of the paper so it will be easy to remove after cutting. Cut the fabric to size.

2. Iron the red patch on the bag at least 1/2" (1.3cm) from the side and 1/4" (6mm) from the fold (Embellish, Step 2), and zig zag stitch around it. Then iron and sew the next on top of it, and the final one stacked on the others.

Hexie Pouch

 Retro Mama hexie flower

I used 3/8" hexagons to make my hexie flower (0.375" or 1cm) using this hexagon generator.

Space the hexagon 1/2" (1.3cm) from the side and 3/8" (1cm) from the fold (Embellish, Step 2). I used mint colored thread to match the hexie fabric. Attach the hexie flower with ladder stitches.

And that's it! I don't have more comprehensive instructions for the hexagon because I'm not an expert paper piecer and there are tons of great tutorials out there already, but do let me know if you have any questions!

Happy Stitching!

To Market


 Retro Mama ballerina doll

Aren't you just so inspired by all the amazing photos from Quilt Market this past weekend?? My fabric shopping list for this winter and spring is getting very long! I wasn't able to attend, but I did make a little batch of samples for my friends at Blend Fabrics. I received a beautiful box of fabric, and when I laid eyes on Josephine Kimberling’s new line I immediately pictured a ballerina doll that was ever-so-slightly edgier than usual. Hand drawn florals, dots, and stripes were perfect for pairing with black satin ribbon!

 Retro Mama ballerina doll

 Retro Mama ballerina doll
A couple layers of tulle over the skirt softens it nicely. And because I get the occasional question about the skirt closure, here is a view of the back. It's just a simple tie, which also makes the dress reversible.

 Retro Mama ballerina doll
 Retro Mama ballerina doll
 Retro Mama ballerina doll
 Retro Mama ballerina doll
 Retro Mama ballerina doll
Next up...

Maude Asbury designs the most fun modern retro prints! Her new line, Colorific, is full of bright geometrics that are perfect for making mod critter softies. I liked how the doxie’s 60s style eyelashes looked so much with these fabrics that I put them on my mini elephant, too!

The doxie was made at 90% of the full pattern size with no other alterations, so it is about 2-3” smaller than the regular sized dog. I love those bits of dark green mixed in with the brights.

 Retro Mama doxie softie
 Retro Mama doxie softie
 Retro Mama doxie softie

Wee elephant was made with the templates printed at 75% of full size with no other adjustments, and is about 6” tall. I used the eyelash template from the doxie for the eyes and I love how it turned out! And sooo easy, too!

 Retro Mama elephant softie
All of these fabrics will be available soon!

Elephant and ballerina, and doxie sewing patterns can be found in my shop.

Happy Stitching!

Mixed Bag


I made this drawstring bag for a friend, and it turned out really cute. So I made more of them--and took notes this time--to share with you!

 Retro Mama | Mixed Bag Drawstring Pouch Tutorial
Drawstring bags are perfect for stash-busting fabric, trims, and other embellishments that seem to multiply when you're not looking (or in my case, when you load up your online shopping cart because why pay for shipping multiple tim--and oh gosh are those buttons adorable?!). But let's not talk about my shopping problem, let's make some cute little pouches!

The bag measures 3"W x 4"H (7.6cm x 10.2cm), and is unlined, but with an easy adjustment so there are no raw edges to poke out through the sides, yay! Lightweight cotton such as Japanese quilting cotton makes for a more delicate and less bulky bag, but you can also use regular quilting cotton if you wish. The instructions show how to make a pouch embellished like the one pictured above, but you can decorate them any way you want!

 Retro Mama hexie drawstring bag
One more teeny tiny note: This bag is small and therefore a wee bit fiddly. While it's not technically difficult to sew, it does get slightly cramped to fit under your presser foot at the end. Using a zipper foot really makes the difference! Make sure you have good lighting and your stitch guides are clearly marked. Using light colored fabric is also really helpful for visibility.

Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

11-1/2" x 4" (29.2cm x 10.2cm) piece of lightweight cotton print, such as Japanese quilting cotton or lawn
Trim (crocheted lace, twill tape, linen tape, or similar) for front of bag
Additional small length of twill tape or ribbon for "tag"
Two 18" (45.7cm) lengths of 1/8" wide satin ribbon for ties
All purpose thread
Embroidery floss to sew buttons
Fray Check

Quilting ruler, rotary cutter, self-healing mat, sewing machine, iron and ironing board, air dry or washable ink fabric pen, zipper foot, small safety pin, hand sewing needle (for basting), chopstick or other narrow blunt tool

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch tutorial
1. Press under the long sides of the 11.5" x 4" (29.2cm x 10.2cm) rectangle a scant 1/4" (6mm).

2. Edge stitch along both sides.

3. Press under the short sides of the fabric, this time a full 1/4" (6mm), and topstitch.


1. Fold the fabric rectangle in half, wrong sides facing and short ends together and crease at the fold.

2. Unfold the fabric, and using a ruler, draw a line on the bag with disappearing fabric ink, 3/4" (1.9cm) above the fold.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
3. Cut a 4-1/2" (11.4cm) length of trim (crochet or eyelet trim, twill tape, etc.), and place on the bag, bottom edge of the trim on the line. Sew the long edge of the trim to the fabric, very close to the edge, keeping the edge of the trim on the ink line. Repeat for the other side. Be sure to backstitch so it stays on securely.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
4. Cut a 2" (5.1cm) length of trim or ribbon for your "tag" (or insert your own foldover label). Fold in half, place it on one long edge of the bag fabric, a little above the sewn trim. The raw edges should hang over the bag edge about 1/4" (6mm). Sew in place, close to the edge.

5. Trim the tag and ribbon, then zig zag stitch over the ends. Do not add buttons yet.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial

1. Fold the bag fabric in half, right sides together, matching the short edges.

2. Mark a short line 3-1/4" (8.3cm) from the bottom fold, and 3/8" (9.5mm) above the first mark with a fabric pen, on both edges as pictured, then pin the long sides.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
3. Sew the long sides of the bag with a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance, but DO NOT sew between the two sets of lines. This creates the opening for the ties. Backstitch a couple of times at the beginning and end of each seam to fully secure the thread, especially right next to the lines.

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch tutorial
4. Turn the bag right side out, then draw lines with a ruler and fabric pen for stitching the channel for the ties, right above and below the openings on the side of the bag. I used the original ink marks, which showed through the fabric, and continued them around the entire bag.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
5. Turn the bag inside out and press the seam allowances open. Then fold over the top edge of the bag 1-1/4" (3.2cm) all the way around toward the wrong side. Press the fold with an iron, keeping all seam allowances open and lined up. Use a needle and thread to hand sew a long basting stitch (reinforced a few times and tied off) to keep the seams in place. Otherwise they may twist while you are sewing the channel for the ties.

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch tutorial
6. Sew all the way around the bag on both lines, using a zipper foot with the needle all the way to the left and starting on a side seam. Backstitch a few times to secure the seams. Be extremely careful that the fabric is not bunched underneath and that your fingers stay clear of the needle!

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial

7. Carefully remove the basting stitches on the side seams.


1. Turn the bag right side out again (last time, I promise!). Gently run a chopstick along the seams and corners, and touch up with an iron if necessary.

2. Attach a safety pin to one end of a ribbon tie. Insert it into one of the side openings, then thread it all the way around and back out through the same hole. If the safety pin gets stuck under a flap near the side seams, insert a narrow chopstick tip in until it touches the safety pin, and use that to guide it through the hole. Tie the ribbons together about 1-1/2" (3.8cm) from the ends, then neatly trim the ends on an angle with a rotary cutter. Repeat this process with the remaining ribbon, except start on the opposite side of the bag. Use Fray Check on the ends of the ties in a well-ventilated area, or better yet, outside!

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
3. Sew on the buttons. I mark the holes first to make sure the buttons line up straight.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
4. Fill your new little pouch with goodies and enjoy!

I loved embellishing these little bags using my favorite measuring tape trims, prized scraps, and vintage buttons--I hope you enjoy making them, too! (for embellishment info on the other bag styles, see this post!)
 Retro Mama Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

 Retro Mama | Mixed Bag Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

Leave any questions you have in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them! I would love to see your own "mixed bag" pouches, please tag me on Instagram (@retro_mama) or post on my Facebook page if you make them!

Happy Stitching!

Flower Sugar + Pretty Patches


In keeping with my theme of catching up on projects from this spring, I wanted to show you this amazingly gorgeous fabric that my friend Amy sent to me a while back.

 Retro Mama | Flower Sugar Spring 2015

The spring Flower Sugar line from Lecien is stunningly beautiful, and I really love the grey prints! There is something so lovely about a neutral mixed with bright colors. I thought that all of those wee florals were perfect for a sewing kit.

 Retro Mama | sewing kit

I had planned to give this to a friend who recently got a sewing machine, but I made a little goof on it (not shown) that wasn't easy to get to (I missed sewing one of the quilt lines), so I will have to decide if I want to disassemble it to fix it. Don't you hate when that happens? Oh well, it's pretty on the inside! I sewed on some brown and off white apparel buttons to keep the kit very functional.

 Retro Mama | sewing kit
The sewing kit was made with a pattern from my book.

And while I'm on the subject of book projects, I happened across this magazine while browsing at Barnes & Noble and something caught my eye.

 Pretty Patches Magazine issue 13 June 2015

If you squint just a little...

 Pretty Patches Magazine issue 13 June 2015

Oh hey! That's my tote bag!

This pretty magazine has a range of projects inside, from the cute owl on the cover, to delicately intricate embroidery. My jewelry roll and craft tote patterns from Scrap Happy Sewing are also included, with all the instructional photos, too! This is the June issue of Pretty Patches (printed in the UK, apparently just now available here in the US), and it came with three adorable little rolls of twill tape.

 Pretty Patches magazine issue 13 June 2015

 Pretty Patches magazine issue 13 June 2015

Anyway, I think that's about it for catch-up! I find it so difficult to get things done in the summer when the kids are out of school, does that happen to you, too? As much as I love spending the long summer days with my boys, my sewing room does end up getting neglected. But I'm working on sneaking in a little time here and there.

Happy Stitching!

Pinwheel Palette


I went to a local quilt shop and stopped in my tracks when I saw a sample of this adorable pattern stitched up, Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel by Primitive Gatherings. It was made with Civil War reproductions but in my head I immediately pictured it in feedsack prints. I was taken with just how tiny those little pinwheels were and couldn’t wait to try it myself! The pattern came with a wee pinwheel template and now I finally had an excuse to pick up an 18mm rotary cutter to go with it.

 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheels

My favorite and most time consuming part was choosing fabrics. I decided to pull out all the tiniest 30s prints I had and see where that left me. I still had to go back to pick out another 25 more fabrics after this photo! I ended up repeating just three prints (the navy ones that you'll see further down), so including the border and backing there are 80 different fabrics.

 Retro Mama | pretty feedsack reproductions

The blocks and border, all stitched up. Yes, you’re cute, but it’s time to chop you up again!

 Retro Mama | pretty patchwork
 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel WIP
No turning back!

 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheels WIP
Aaaannd...Pinwheels! So bright and cheery! I added in a few blue and navy prints because I was worried that it would look a bit too washed out. I needn't have fretted though because once the prints were condensed into pinwheels the colors appeared more concentrated, but I'm still glad that I added in the darker bits, which contrast nicely. Each pinwheel is 1-1/2" from tip to tip. The whole mini quilt is 10-1/2" x 10-1/2". It's going to look so cute on my quilt wall!

 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel WIP

I love the back before I finished it, the seam allowances are so layered that light doesn't go through!

 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel WIP
 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel

This pattern is crazy fun and will look sweet no matter what kind of fabrics you choose! The instructions are best for confident beginners as it's a little bit of a brain teaser. Just one or two more photos would have made the pattern clearer but even so it's pretty easy to tell if you're going in the right direction.

 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel
My favorite little pinwheel on this quilt has to be the one with this text. I adore text print fabrics but after closer inspection of this one I found that it actually has a lot of negative words on it. Hrmph. I decided to include it anyway, and to my shock and delight, the words that were most legible were these: love, integrity, live, admiration, and freedom. And though I finished this quilt a while back, I'm glad I waited until now to post this because the timing seems perfect with the Fourth of July coming up. You can find the pattern at the link above or at Fat Quarter Shop.
 Retro Mama | Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel

Have a safe and happy Fourth to those of you in the US, and Happy Stitching to all!