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Posted on January 6, 2016

Review: Swoon Ethel Tote Bag

Handbags/ Sewing

I hope to make all the Swoon Patterns I own this year.  A Girl can wish can’t she? If January turns out to be any inkling of the rest of the year I am doing might fine!  I decided to tackle  this by using Alicia’s (Swoon Pattern Creator) easiest to hardest ratings.  First Up Ethel:


Pattern Description:  A roomy, sturdy and stylish open tote bag. With a teardrop shape, Ethel veers away from the usual boxy tote. It’s a “stuff it in and run out the door” kind of bag, designed to comfortably sling over your shoulder. There are a few slip pockets for the small things.

Product Description


  • 9.5″ wide at top
  • 13″ wide at bottom
  • 5″ deep
  • 10″ tall


  • 2/3 yard 44” wide quilting weight exterior fabric
  • 3/4 yard 44” wide quilting weight lining fabric
  • 1 yard fusible (or sew-in) foam interfacing (Pellon Flex-Foam FF78F1)
  • 3 yards 20” wide fusible woven interfacing (Pellon Shapeflex SF101)
  • 1/4 yard fusible stabilizer (Pellon Peltex 71F)
  • Coordinating thread
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: 1/4 You should already be somewhat familiar with sewing patterns and common sewing terms.

Here’s my Ethel:


Fabric: Tula Pink Foxfield and Waverly Polka Dots

Hardware: Upcycled from a Guess Bag and NingBags

Pattern Review: I really enjoyed this pattern and agree with Alicia’s recommendation of difficulty 1 out of 4.  The pieces are easy to cut out, no odd shapes no darts if you are unfamiliar.  Since I had purchased my pattern the pattern cover has changed and so had the supply list.  My pattern cover feathers this:


The tote now lists Foam/headliner as the interfacing. I used Pellon Thermalon Plus which I prefer better.  Note this does make the bag heavier and more substantial.  This Tote is straigh forward and if this is your first time making a bag this is a perfect pattern. It will definitely look like a bag when your finished and you will be proud.  Think carefully when choosing fabrics as fabrics (to me) can make or break your bag.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match.  I felt the bag was a tad plain but also I am not a beginner bag maker so i added hardware.  Its not functional just pretty …to me.


That’s the benefit of sewing you can customize any way you want.


When adding your strap hardware be sure to stitch close to your rings so the fabric does not slide.


Top Stitching not the best, that’s ok use a 1/4 foot with a guide, extend your stitch length to 3.5 slow and steady.


Inside pockets are great and remember you can divide them however you want.  You are a handbag sewer…do what you want!

04-IMG_9987-001When you are ready to birth Ethel (the non foam version) besure to LOCKSTITCH your seams as to no rip your opening.




1-IMG_0279-001Tada you are all done!    If you decide to make Ethel let me know your experience.  This tote is available in my Etsy shop: Here



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Posted on November 29, 2015

Vivian Handbag and Traveler Pattern Review

Handbags/ Sewing

I needed another bag to take to my moms for Thanksgiving. ….Quick.   No Judging. I am looking at you like Ester would look at Fred Sanford.   Say hello to the Vivian by  Swoon.


My Senna tote was killing me as I had it stuffed with all the components necessary for an episode of Survivor!  So I figured I would remedy that and make a handbag.  The Vivian comes in 2 sizes a handbag size finishing at 12″and a Travellor size at 17″.  I needed the Traveller:).



Time is Deer-ZeetZeet Etsy Shop I purchased this fabric once before and used if for a knitting project bag

Black and white Polka Dots/Grey and White Polka Dots -Waverly

Made my own piping

Pattern Overview:

I’ll admit I didn’t read..I am a bad mammah Jamma huh? made this bag by looking at the photo!  Since I decided to make this in 2 days before I headde to my moms I owe it all to Ali Cat and CO.  She did  a sew along some time ago so I followed her.  This is a quick sew as their aren’t many pieces but there are several areas where you need to play close attention, straps, zipper and drop in lining.  This bag calls for a foam stabilizer which was a first for me it was very easy to work with.  I recall thinking foam! I could only imagine sewing through that dense foam sold a Joanns used for out door cushions.  It is not at all like that, its very easy to work with and did not require a walking foot.  It was a great quick sew!



I omitted the inside zipper pockets since I don’t use that and tend to have a gazillion zippered pouches I used instead.  I added studs to the handles.


A Word of Caution

When lining your straps I only like to see one stitch line. I adhere my straps to the body with hem tape.  That ensures ZERO movement and perfect alignment at the base of your bag.  Use an edgestitch foot for perfect stitching.  I tacked down the lining to the seams to reduce droopie-ness.  There’s a tute on the swoon blog.  Drop in linings always require special attention to take it slow.



Juki F600

1/4″ foot with guide

Edge Stitch foot

Zipper foot

Wonder under

Scotch tape

Hem tape

Posted on November 6, 2015

WonderWoman Tote Bag

Handbags/ Sewing


Whew It has been a whirl wind yall!

norman rockwell

Let’s see……we’ve moved ….almost…it took over a month and required some serious downsizing. You know that is blashphemy for a crafter right!  During the move the gas company had the street blocked off for 2 weeks at the old house.  Then 2 days later they blocked off the new house!  (side-eye) .  Then Street cleaning on the side of the street in which we needed to park!  Next rain..I mean if I believed in Voo-doo someone definitely put a hex on us!  Well today is the last day so I am hiding waiting on Amazon and the husband is taking care of the last bits.  I had a small setback with my eye..just google eye concretions…that’s all I’m saying. Now take all that and add several days of overtime and double workshifts for the husband.  Did I get your sympathy yet???  I surely did need it!  Today we are on the move again and the closest we’ve been to some sort of normalcy!

With all that I did have a few custom projects going on and Ha!  I made all my deadlines….yess.  I also have some new goodies that I will share with you shortly too.  Before I said my final ado to corporate america I was asked to create a Wonderwoman Tote Bag with a custom message inside.I also knew I wanted to come up with my own design for a tote bag too.  Here are the deets!  My pictures are not the best as we were deep in the bowels of moving so forgive me.

Custom Wonder Woman tote is coming along....#wonderwoman#customtotebag#shophandmade#sewing#hopkinsstudio

I had a great time with this tote.  I used  a combination of fabrics to anchor the WW toss fabric.  Sometimes the toss fabrics have so much going on that you can’t really see the bag design.  I love the front pocket and hardware.

As with anything you make you learn things along the way.  That’s the benefit of being a maker.   So I jotted down notes too.

I really enjoyed this as I was making it for an awesome friend to give as a gift and the tote included a handwritten note.

She was worried the message wasn’t perfect but it was from the heart and that’s all that matters.  So glad to have been able to make this tote and its a good draft of what I would look for in a tote bag.

So glad to be back sharing with you and chat with you soon!



Posted on September 26, 2015

New Beginnings, New Blog and a New Bag Review

Handbags/ Pattern Review/ Sewing

There are lots of things happening here in the Studio over the next month!   A new career, new location and a new bag.  Lets chat shall we?

On to New Beginnings

I have been blessed to have the opportunity to dedicate myself full-time to my business, Hopkins Sewing Studio!  I am over the moon about it but I have a ton of work to do.  So I ask for your patience as I get it all together.  Now let me catch you up!

New Blog

Say hello to  I am teaching myself all the things! Pray for me yall! I have transferred my posts from to here.  Still figuring it all out.


Now all that housekeeping business is out-of-the-way on the bag!


Say hello to my new little “everyday” Bag.



Pattern Overview

I was  in the market for a new “everyday purse” and I like them big.  You never know if I will have to use it as a flotation device:).  I switch bags when I commuted to work so I exchanged from my Backpack to my tote bag to my purse.  I took a good look at my purse and I could have died, the thing was barely constructed.  vegan leather(pleather..what ever you want to call it) was peeling off and it wasn’t even worthy of the thrift store!  Ladies check your handbags it just may be time!  So this prompted me to begin to think about sewing a new everyday bag when I had a chance.  Enter the Senna Tote.  A collaboration between LGB and Willow and Co.  I felt this tote was a little snazzier with the zipper and rounded fold over top so I gave it a shot

Source: LBJ Studio Etsy Shop

Source: LBJ Studio Etsy Shop $9

I enjoyed this pattern.  It was written really well and used graphics instead of camera pictures.  If this bothers you don’t worry there are very little pieces and its very easy to follow.  There are several reviews for this pattern some even from first time bag sewers.  The pattern provides different options, hardware and fabric cutting guides which is always helpful.  The Senna Tote used interlining which was a first for me since I swear by interfacing but the bag holds up wonderfully.  I definitely learned to trust the designer on this one.  It’s a one day-er so get busy.



Ex Libris collection by Allison Glass purchased from my local quilt shop

Book Plate-Charcoal

Historical Fiction in Gold

Historical Fiction in Strawberry

Zipper Pull-Joanns-Isn’t she just a doll!

I used the Pink on the inside to brighten the bag a bit.  I took the seam sin 1/2 inch I hate saggy linings or when the insides droop.



I also used the pink to highlight my personal label.



I lined and made bias tape on the pockets to add some contrast. , added rectangle rings, stiff bottom and bag feet.

08-IMG_9521           IMG_502317-IMG_9530

The pockets are not lined, that’ s a no-no for me I had add lining.  I did not add the magnetic snaps.  I wanted to be able to access my ipad from this pocket which ended up shallower than I expected.  If I added my ipad the snap would have been in the way.


I used pellon 71F to make a stiff bottom and added feet.



I LOVE this zipper pull!


IMG_5027 (1)


Remember the false bottom…I forgot I wanted to added it.  Thank goodness for this small iron because I had to stick it inside the lining opening all ninja style like to fuse my stiff bottom, LOL.  It’s good to have a bazillion irons!  Using rectangle rings….ack.  I should have used these instead.  Already on order… The rings turn to the narrow end while carrying..ick.  You live you learn.



If you have any trouble at all it will be the curved zipper. Be sure to line up your dots and take your time and you will be fine.

Here a few more pictures of the finished bag and the cute taken when the weather was Beautiful outside.

IMG_5026 IMG_5023 I really enjoyed making this tote and want to make a few for my shop.  Of course when you make a bag you must make matching accessories too.


I made a high zipper pouch and lined it with my DIY matching laminated cotton.  I hate when creams or lotions lose their tops and create a mess.  I couldn’t resist making this little tissue holder using this tutorial too.


Give the Senna Tote a try Buy It Now.

Happy Stitchin!


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