The Metro Tote Tutorial





I love simple designs made with top notch materials.  I also love combining nontraditional materials together.  In this case I share a very simple tote design using thick felted wool along with leather handles and quilting cotton scraps.  There are so many other ways to experiment with this bag design and I hope those who try it take my instructions as a jumping off point to explore their own creativity.

One finished tote including handles, measures approximately 19 inches high, 12.5 inches wide and 4 inches deep.


3 mm Felt ( I purchased mine from Aetna Felt .  One 72” wide yard made 4 bags.  You can also use leather or 5 mm felt but both are much harder on a domestic machine)

2 thick leather pieces 18 x 1 ¼ inch for handles or two 18 inch premade handles (I demonstrate with some stitched 18 inch leather bag handles I made but plain leather will work perfectly well.  If you are intimidated by leather and rivets you can also use webbing as handles and sew them directly to the felt)

Exacto knife

Fabric Marker (I like Dritz Disappearing Ink pen)

Quilter’s Ruler

Rotary Cutter

Pieced block or textile that you want to feature on the bag in a reverse applique technique less then 9 1/2  x 9 1/2 inches (I have used paper piecing patterns, leftover quilt blocks, improv panels made from scraps.  The sky is the limit.)

Double sided fabric tape (optional)

Leather Hole Punch

Small Sized Rivets (If you are uncomfortable with rivet setting, screw in rivets are a nice alternative and if you chose to use 5mm thick wool, I recommend medium sized rivets)


Sewing Machine


Step 1: Cut Out Your Pieces

Cut two pieces of Felt 12 ½ x 12 ½ inches (front and back pieces)

Cut one piece of Felt 36 x 4 inch (side piece)

Cut a piece of felt that is 1 inch larger on all sides then the cut out motif you plan for your front. (For example, if you choose to cut out a 6 inch circle in the front felt to show off a special paperpieced block then cut out a 7 inch felt circle. The front felt bag piece with the cut out motif, your chosen feature textile/block and this third felt piece will form  a sandwich that once finished will make the inside of the bag look more professional.)

Round the bottom corners of the front and back felt pieces.  (I used a 7 inch diameter circle but a round plate would work well too.)



Step 2: Prepare your Front Felt Piece for Reverse Applique

Choose a cut out motif that you will use on you front felt piece (in this example, I used a 6×6 inch red cross sign) , mark with your marker and cut out with an Exacto knife. In previous iterations of this design, I have used a circle, rectangle, lightning bolt and a combination of shapes that will show off the piece I plan to show off in the reverse appliqué.  Let your imagination guide you.



Once your motif is cut out in the felt, sandwich your block or textile between the front felt and the back extra felt piece centering them all as best you can.  You may use reversible tape to secure everything in place if needed.


Stitch 1/8 inch around the reverse appliqué motif through all layers.


Turn the whole piece to the back and trim away the extra fabric.



Further secure them all together by stitching 1/4 inch again around the block                 through all three layers.




Step 3: Sew the Bag Pieces Together

The seams on this bag are all to the outside and there are only two of them.  SO SIMPLE!

Wrong sides together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew the front felt piece to the long side piece.  Trim any extra felt that is hanging off the top.  (Of note, I do not use clips or needles when sewing this first seam but just guide it as I go around the corners.  For the second upcoming seam I use a lot of clips)




Wrong sides together and using a 1/4 seam allowance, sew the back felt piece to the side piece.




Step 4: Attach the Handles

Using your hole punch, punch two holes along the horizontal bottom of each end of the handles about 1/4 inch in from sides and bottom.


Set your ruler 2 ½ inches from the side and 1 ½ inch from the top.  Align your bag handle at the edge and mark the handle holes on the felt with your marker.


Using you hole punch, punch holes at these marked sites and attach your handles to the bag with rivets.




Congratulations On Your New Bag!

Tag me @entropyalwayswins on IG and use the hashtag #themetrotote so I can see your beauties.



Easter Egg Pincushion Tutorial by Hillary Goodwin and Kitty Wilkin



Recently Kitty (Night Quilter) and I had the opportunity to meet in person after following each other’s work online for years.  Both loving embroidery, repurposing textiles, creativity and the sewing community in general we plotted a tutorial that would allow us to play off each other’s creative personality and engage the greater sewing community as a whole.

A year ago I made an Easter Egg shaped pincushion out of velvet and repurposed leather.  We expanded on this idea and invite anyone who wants to participate to make a similar pincushion and, if interested, incorporate repurposed leather (Earth Day is coming up after all, and repurposed leather is typically thin enough to easily sew on a domestic sewing machine. Be bold. Be brave. Let’s sew leather!).

In this tutorial we give everyone some guidelines but the emphasis is PLAY and MAKING THIS PROJECT YOUR OWN.  Don’t celebrate Easter?  No biggie, make a similar pincushion in another shape.  We will be following on Instagram so please tag your makes #eastereggpincushion (as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins) so we can all enjoy.  To celebrate this group project we will both randomly be giving participants some of our own pincushions as well as supplies to make them. All you need to do to be eligible is to play along, tag us, and tag #eastereggpincushion so that we can find you!

Suggested Supplies

Thin leather (~6×12 inches)

Wool felt, velvet, jeans or any other material for the inner portion of the pincushion (~6×6 inches)

Embroidery hoop (a 4” hoop will *just* fit the inner egg)

Egg Pincushion Template (print HERE) (note updated the pdf 3/20/2017)

Embroidery thread (embroidery floss, perle cotton, or 12wt thread works. Use what you have!)

Embroidery or other needle (Kitty uses Tulip size 3 milliners)

Double sided fabric tape or fabric glue (optional)

Sewing machine with a walking foot

Leather sewing machine needle 

Thread (Kitty and Hillary used 40wt Aurifil thread)

Chalk or other removable marker 

Muslin or other scrap fabric (6×12 inches)

Craft clips (both Clover wonderclips or Evergreen Art Supply craft clips work great)

Small Funnel

Crushed Walnut shell or other favored pincushion fill


Step 1: Templates and Leather

Print the Easter Egg Pincushion HERE and cut along both inner and outer egg outlines.

Trace the template onto the wrong side of the leather, marking out two eggs–one with only the outline and one with both the inner and outer lines drawn. Carefully cut along the marked lines, remembering to cut one piece along only the outer egg outline and cut the other piece along both the inner and outer egg outlines. Set your leather pieces aside.





Step 2: Embroidery

Using chalk or water soluble marker, trace the inner egg outline onto on your embroidery surface (felt, velvet, jeans, etc) so you will know the limitations of your embroidery design.  Adorn at your heart’s desire with embroidery, applique, etc.  You are welcome to copy our experiments but please feel free to try your own ideas.



Step 3: Attach the Embroidery to the Leather Upper

Align your embroidered material so that the embellishments fit within the window of your leather upper (the egg with the hole cut out of the middle). Secure the right side of your embroidery to the wrong side of your leather upper with double sided tape, glue, or other method. Then, using a ¼ or ⅛ inch seam allowance, top stitch the two together along the inner egg as shown. Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim. Finally, trim the seam allowance of your embroidered material carefully about ½” away from the stitched line so that it remains easily inside the outer margins of the egg.






Step 4: Make an Inner Pincushion

Using only the outer margin of your Egg Template, trace and cut two pieces of muslin.  Sew the two pieces together using a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to use for filling.  Fill with crushed walnut shells (a funnel can be helpful for this).  One half cup of crushed walnut shells for this project seems to be the right amount. Use, a little more if you want a more rounded pincushion.  Sew closed the opening of the inner pincushion.



Step 5: Finishing your Pincushion

Place the two leather egg pieces wrong sides together and secure with wonderclips. (Note that pinning will create visible holes in the leather–use clips!)  Sew around the outer margin of the egg using a ¼ seam allowance, leaving an opening at least 3 inches long unsewn.  Stuff your filled and fully closed inner pincushion through this opening.  Ensuring the inner pincushion remains entirely inside, top stitch the remaining way around the outer edge of the egg.  Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim or bury.






Step 6: Share your creation with us!

Tag your pincushion on Instagram #eastereggpincushion as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins or link to the blog posts.   We can’t wait to see what you create! Enjoy!!




Sew Mama Sew and Art Show Details

Last month Kristin and Beth of Sew Mama Sew sweetly asked me to share details of a tile block I made up while creating this quilt top as a commission for one of my oldest friend’s.  Go see their intro about me here: Introducing Hillary Goodwin from Entropy Always Wins | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005 and my Tile Block tutorial here: Tile Blocks Tutorial | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005. I’m thrilled to get this quilt finished and enlisted the help of long arm quilter Jessie Ziegler (threaded quilting studio) for a quilt collaboration.  That negative white space is going to look yummy with her quilting.


In other news, some mini quilts for an art show in Seattle beginning next month are in process.  I am honored and excited to be sharing space with many gifted artists.  A big bonus is that Seattle is where i went to undergrad and Medical School and many friends and family still are Seattle residents.   It will be fun to share my work there.   For details of the show (and an introduction to an inspiring maker) see Anna’s post here: It’s Official! I Left My Job to Become a Quiltmaker | Quilting Queerly.



I’ve had so much fun making up my these simple bags that feature letters and symbols in fancy fonts and recycled leather accents, I thought I would write up a quick tutorial.  These are guidelines on how I have made my bags but I would delight in people taking my idea and modifying to make it their own.  I have used both my industrial Juki machine to sew these up as well as my Janome Memory Craft machine with no problem so I know it can be done either way.  The limiting factor in using a traditional machine for this bag is NOT the leather since the repurposed leather I use from coats and skirts is fairly thin, it is the heavy weight interfacing.  Having said that, using the leather needle, going slow and steady, I broke no needles and had no problem using my traditional machine.  I hope the same may be true for you.





Felted Wool for your Number/Letter/Symbol
Embroidery Thread to match the wool
1 yard linen (for the outside bag body) cut into two rectangles (20″x17″)
1 yard cotton (for the bag lining and the inside handles) cut into two rectangles (20″x18″) and two rectangles (20″x2″)
Repurposed Leather (used for the side stripes of the bag and outside handles) cut into two rectangles
(18″x2″) and two rectangles (20″x2″)
1 1/2 yards of Pellon Heavyweight one sided fusible interfacing (for the bag body and handles) cut into two rectangles
(20″x17″)and two rectangles (19″x2″)
Upholstery weight thread
Leather sewing machine needles if using a traditional machine (I used Schmetz #100/16.)
Clover wonder clips (these help so much with sewing leather to prevent needle holes when holding pieces together)

Note: I used a 1/2 inch seam when sewing and a 1/4 inch topstitching unless otherwise noted. RST=Right Sides Together

Step One: Cut out and Sew on your Special Letter/Number/Symbol onto the Bag Front

I found several fun fonts on the internet and my computer as well as drawing up some designs on my own.  After fusing the front linen pieces(20″x17″) to the Pellon interfacing pieces (20″x17″), I cut out the image I selected in my wool felt and centered it on one of the rectangles allowing an extra 1 1/2 inch at the bottom to account for the bottom fold and top handles.  I pinned it to the front and then hand stitched 1/8-1/4 from the sides using three strands of the embroidery thread and a split stitch sewing through both the linen and interfacing.




Step Two: Make the Outside Bag

Mark a 2″ square at the bottom of both the front fused linen pieces and the inner cotton lining and cut them out.


Using the wonder clips, attach one 18″x2″ leather strips to the side front fused linen piece RST and sew together.


Do this on the other side of the bag and fold the seam toward the leather and topstitch it down after you sew each seam.



Sew the side leather strip to the back so that you have made a bag tube. Turn inside out and topstitch the last leather seam. (This is the hardest part of making this bag as you have to push the other side of the bag tube out of the way while sewing to prevent accidentally sewing the tube together.)


Flip the tube inside out again and sew the bottom seam together.


Next, fold the lines made by cutting out the bottom squares together, matching the center side leather strip to the bottom bag seam and sew these two seams on each side to close the outside bag.


Step Three: Make and Attach the Handles

Fuse the 20″x2″ cotton rectangles to the heavyweight interfacing rectangles 19″x2″ leaving 1/2″ overlap of the cotton on each side.


Set the 20″x2″ leather rectangle on top of the 20″x2″ fused cotton rectangle RST. Hold together with the wonder clips and sew a 1/4″ seam along the two long 20″ sides. Turn the tube inside out. At both ends, turn under the leather and cotton by 1/2″ back into the tube and hold with a wonder clip.


Top stitch along all sides of the handle closing up the ends. Repeat for the other handle. Now you have two handles to attach to your bag front and back.


Measure 4″ from each side and 2 1/2″ down from the top to mark the outside edge of your handles. Topstitch a 1″ square and X at the handle bottoms to secure the handles to the bag.



Step Four: Finish the bag

RST, sew the cotton lining pieces (20″x18″ cotton rectangles) together along the sides and bottom, leaving a 4 inch opening at the center bottom. Then sew the bottom side square openings together as you did on the front piece. Slip the lining RST and attach with wonder clips at the top to the main bag piece making sure to keep the handles out of the way. Sew the main bag and lining together at the top.


Pull the main bag through the opening in the bottom of the bag lining and push the lining into place. Top stitch along the bag at top. Finally sew by hand or machine the bottom opening in the lining together and you are done!



Although I think I’m done with these bags for a bit, I am by no means done with the idea of leather repurposing.  Check out some of the other repurposed leather projects I have completed:

Recycled Leather Clutch | Entropy Always Wins.

A Birthday Present for My Guy | Entropy Always Wins.

A Tote for my Cargo | Entropy Always Wins.

The Bianca Clutch | Entropy Always Wins.

Ok, Just One More . . . | Entropy Always Wins.


I hope you have a wonderful week.  We are off to the Seattle area to visit friends and family.



Remnant Bag Tutorial

I am a sucker for charity causes and so when my friend contacted me today with an invitation to donate one of my creations to a silent auction in honor of a nurse we worked with who passed yesterday, I could not say no. (Sidenote: I am humbled at how many of the sweetest people in the world are asked to deal with unimaginable suffering. This was true with my friend who contracted a rare cancer in her 20s and now leaves behind her husband and two young children we hope to raise money for. Ugh!) In any case, with this in mind, I dropped my other projects and pulled out a favorite Hmong remnant and whipped up a bag. I came up with this bag design last year when making another Hmong remnant bag for a friend. It is not a particularly unique design but I thought it would be fun to share as these bags always garner compliments and they are a fun way to show off odd-shaped special textiles.

I am a Macgyver kind of sewist. I’m not formally trained and I always figure things out in odd ways so forgive me if the structure and instructions are unusual (and please share your tips if you have better ways of bag making).


To start off, I gathered some of my fave Marcus Fabric Organic Cotton Canvas for the outside, some peach linen fabric for the lining, my fabric remnant, a heavy sewing needle, fusible fleece, thread to match the outside fabric, the lining and the remnant and a 20 inch black zipper. (for my bag size, anything 18 inches or up would do) I then cut two squares 18×18 inches in the canvas and two same sized squares in the linen lining fabric. I also cut a piece 5×36 inches in the black canvas, two rectangles of the linen lining (6×10 inches) and I cut a piece of the fusible fleece in 2.5×36 inches long.  (Depending on the textile you want to show off, you may need to adjust your bag size.)



I then stacked up the outer and inner large squares and rounded off the bottom corners.



I then drew an isosciles triangle freehand on the center of one of the curved corners, I folded the square in half again and cut the triangle out of all 8 layers.



I then sewed the two smaller rectangles of the lining fabric to make an inner pocket leaving a center area at the bottom unstitched for turning inside out.


I trimmed the corners of the inner pocket rectangle, turned it inside out, ironed it making sure the opening at the bottom was pressed to match the sides and finally sewed the rectangle on the middle center of the front back lining with a 1/8th inch seam.  I also stitched down the center of the pocket to make it into two separate pockets.



I then sewed the bottom corner triangles together, right sides together on both the outer fabric squares and the inner lining pieces.  I used a 1/2 inch seam from here on out unless otherwise stated.



Next, I sewed the bag outer and inner fabrics to the zipper.  This part can be a little confusing but I sandwiched the zipper between the lining and the outer fabric right sides together with the zipper top matching the fabric top and the zipper pull facing the outer fabric.  I used a 1/4 inch seam for the zipper, pushing the zipper pull out of the way when sewing.



I repeated the sequence on the other side of the zipper and was left with outer fabric and inner fabric wrong sides together on either side of the zipper.



I then placed my fabric remnant on the center of the outer canvas on the side opposite of the one with the inner pocket.  I pulled the lining away and made sure that there was 1/2 free at the bottom to allow the bottom seam to come together.  I sewed the remnant in place using thread that matched.



I top stitched along either side of the zipper using a 1/8 inch seam and trimmed the end of the zipper.





Next up, I pulled the outer canvas pieces together and the inner lining pieces together wrongs side together and sewed around the whole sandwich leaving a large opening at the bottom of the lining to facilitate flipping it right side out.

I flipped it and started working on the handle.  To make the handle, I folded the 5×36 inch piece in half lengthwise and fused the fusible fleece with an iron to the top.  I sewed around the rectangle leaving an opening in the middle of the long side to facilitate flipping inside out and also made a curve at each long end.  I flipped it and pressed making sure the opening was lined up and topstit hed all around the handle at 1/8 and 1/2 inches.



Almost done, I reached inside the lining opening and secured the ends of the handle to the both sides of the bag so that the curved end of the handles were 3 inches below the zipper.  Although it was a tight fit, I used my machine to sew the handle to the outer canvas (keeping the lining out of the way) in a u shape following the curve of the handle and sewing across the top of the U a couple times to reinforce.  Lastly, using thread to match the lining I sewed the lining opening closed using a 1/8 inch seam.



Hope that wasn’t too confusing.  I think this bag would work for remnant of any kind, in fact I have an antique quilted square I want to try next.


Sachet’s For the Underwear Drawer-A Tutorial

I think I have underwear on the brain. Not sure why, but making panty shaped sachet’s has been pushed front and center on my to do list. I have about three quilt tops to quilt and several projects midway done but after buying silk organza yesterday, all I can think about is sachets.


And these have been so darn easy to make that it is hard for me to stop. Another bonus is that with each one, I have been trying out new to me decorative stitches on my Janome.



To be honest I am a great Do-er and not the best teacher but these guys were so easy I thought I would pass on the techniques I used.

Supplies: Sewing machine, silk organza, thread, small premade bows, a small funnel and lavender flowers. (I used white organza and grey thread to make the decorative stitching more noticeable and I bought my lavender in the bulk section of Whole Foods.)

Basic Instructions: Mark off with fabric marker a rectangle 5 inches by 7 inches and cut around these rectangles in the silk organza allowing a generous 1 inch border to make stitching easier.   Make symmetric diagonal cuts on the lower rectangle corners to make it into the shape of underwear.  Pin the two pieces of organza together in the middle of the rectangle to keep them together when sewing.   Using a decorative stitch, sew around the edges along your marked lines, leaving the bottom open. Using your funnel, fill the sachet with lavender. Finish the bottom with the same decorative stitching to seal the lavender in place.  Trim the edges of the organza on all sides close to the stitching.   Using some of your thread, hand sew one of the small bows in place in the top center and you are done!

I decided I needed a little bag to hold my sachets so I used some Laminated Cotton from Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane line and made an underwear shaped bag with frills to match my sachets.





Making Malas – A Tutorial

Malas are Tibetan Buddhist prayer beads strung with 108 beads.  The necklaces/bracelets are traditionally used to help keep count while reciting or repeating a mantra.  I am neither Buddhist nor Tibetan but I love the look of Malas and a few years ago started making them for myself and friends.


As I start gearing up for the holidays and begin making presents for friends and family, I have pulled out all my beading supplies and thought I would share my Mala Making methods.

Recommended Materials:

108 beads (best if 5mm or less)

Bead Cord with a self threaded needle (I typically use No 10 in a color to match the tassel)

Needle nose tweezers

Embroidery thread to make a tassel or a premade purchased tassel




To begin your Mala, make a knot near the end of the Bead Cord and begin threading your beads.  In between each bead, tie a knot while using the tweezers to pinch at the top of the bead.  This will make the beads and knots fit tightly together


When all 108 beads have been tied on the Bead Cord, tie the two ends together into a circle. You are almost done!

Next Decide if you want to make your own tassel or attach a premade tassel. I like to do it both ways. Over the year I have been collecting vintage Turkish Tassels and repurposing them on Malas.  I use a strong nylon thread to attach them to the beaded loop.


If you choose to make a tassel, grab some embroidery thread and your beaded loop.


Cut one looped end of the embroidery thread and tie it in the middle to the beaded loop using the left over Bead Cord.


Grab one loose thread on the right side and wrap 5 times around all of the threads



Using a needle pull the loose wrapped thread through the top of the tassel and pull down hard to tighten.



Repeat the wrap and thread pull through with a loose thread from the left side of the tassel this time wrapping in the opposite direction.  Dampen the end of the embroidery thread and trim to desired length.



Enjoy your Mala!



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