Today I have another guest post from Karen to share with you! Over to you Karen:


I love to do hand embroidery, and I have come to love free motion machine embroidery, but there is a limit to what I can use it for.  Gone are the days of embroidered tablecloths, anti-macassars and handkerchiefs!  I needed something more up-to-date and useful to decorate!  I started by making aprons for my great nieces.  I wasn’t very interested in making the aprons, but I loved to create the applique pictures on the pockets!

Aprons Collage
Then I started making bags by recycling jeans and skirts, then I would jazz them up with some embroidery and applique. However my bags were very basic and unstructured, and I wanted something more professional to showcase my handiwork.

Embroidered Collage
I started looking for embroidered bag designs and found that embroiderers are not great bag designers (they tend to be rather limp and basic).  I tried a bag pattern from an embroiders book, adding my own patchwork and applique design.  I had to photocopy the pattern pieces from the spine side of the book, then enlarge them by 400% to get them to size.  To say that did not work well is an understatement, and the instructions just left me confused.  In the end I winged it and the bag looks great, but I never wanted to make another one!

So the obvious course was to find a bag designer whose bags I could decorate.  When I saw Christine’s designs I was scared that her bags would be too difficult for me, they looked so professional and complicated, but eventually I bought her “Stow it All” pattern and discovered a whole new world of sewing.  She took my hand and led me through it all, even responding to my call for help when I got my pattern pieces mixed up!  I have now made several (about 8) for friends and family, and managed to scale it down for my rather petite niece, and yes, cut a butterfly from her fabric to add to the contrast flap!

Front of Shelley's stow it all


So now I could produce a professional looking bag using Christine’s patterns, I could start to add more of my own decorations. I was flattered to be asked by Christine to test the re-vamped Emma pattern which now came with a flap – just asking for yet another butterfly! I also got to make that cute plaited strap!

The Emma Bag

When I was asked to make another bag with a patchwork Butterfly on the flap, like my original creation.  I was so not going back to that book pattern!  Instead I used The Genevieve as it has a lovely big flap.  I was provided with the jeans and the printed cotton for the lining, so I used the lining with some coordinating fabrics and hand embroidery to create the Butterfly.


It’s great to add my favourite decorations to a well designed bag, now I can combine two hobbies I love.  My next couple of projects will involve the Eve Clutch, the Snazzy Slouch and now Christine’s latest design, which has that front pocket just calling out for some embroidery.  No more Butterflies, instead I shall share some of my sources and inspiration for designs and go-to tutorials for techniques to add embroidery or applique to your creations.

Bodacious Bowler

Thank you so much Karen! You can read more of Karen’s posts over at Sew What’s New HERE and visit Karen on Instagram – @auntystitches


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  1. I love to decorate flaps too with applique,paint or decorative stitches too. As a quilter, I do like to use some of my other crafts and skills on my bags too. I don’t always do it on every bag I make, but it’s my favorite part of making a tried and true bag, is to add my own touches. Great bags Karen! You can’t go wrong using Christine’s patterns!
    I wanted to test Emma (had a Golden Retriever named Emma, who was the sweetest dog in the world), but I was out of town then, darn. Love yiur butterfly applique!

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