Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pop Pouch - Variations and Shop Updates

Hello everyone -

Thank you all for your support of my Pop Pouch sewing pattern. I am happy thinking of all the Pouches you'll be making (and scrap-busting in the process).

As promised, I've stocked my Etsy shop with some ready-to-ship Pop Pouches so those of you who are disinclined to make them yourself can still have one (or eight) to use.  While all have canvas/duckcloth outers, there are slight variations in the lining fabric among. Also, one or two are a little taller than the rest (8" as opposed to 7.5"). So please carefully read the item description of each Pouch listing to be sure of its dimensions and to know what materials your Pouch is made of.  

Speaking of variations, I thought I'd share two which I experimented with while developing the Pop Pouch pattern. The pattern itself does not include instructions for either of these variations; they're simple enough that the photos in this post will explain what to do should you want to customize your Pouches for particular needs.

This first one is a height variation. In the photo below, the cobalt blue Pouch on the right was made according to the dimensions in the pattern. The grey-floral-and-navy Pouch on the left is a little taller. Note that the top zippered sections (in print fabric) are of the same dimensions for both pouches,

and it is only the lower sections (the part made of solid fabric) that are different. You can see this in the photo below when the Pouches are fully retracted: the top section slides almost all the way down to the base of the regular pouch but not for the taller pouch.

To create this taller variation, simply add up to 1" to the height of the Cup Side templates. That's all. For reference, the taller Pouch in the photos above had 3/4" added to its height. To avoid ending up with a disproportionately tall retracted Pouch (out of which it will be harder to access the contents), I wouldn't advise adding more than 1". Because its width is unchanged, the circumference of the Cup also remains the same, and the zippered Top section will continue to fit and work perfectly with it. 

You can leave the Pocket template as is (the resulting pocket will simply sit lower in the finished Pouch) or add height to it, too. Experiment with the dimensions to see what works for you. 

The second variation is aesthetic rather than structural. In the photos below is a Pop Pouch I made for a gift for one of Kate's friends. Kate asked me to personalize it with her friend's name and favorite animal. Rather than paint on the solid lower section, I made the Top section solid as well so that I could paint on that instead. 

This way, the handpainted details are visible even when the Top is pulled down over the Cup.

Since the entire Pouch was now solid, I opted for accent print fabric over plain twill tape in the handle for visual interest.

So there you are: two simple variations to start you off. May you find even more interesting ways to diversify your Pop Pouches. Happy making :)

And please stop by my Etsy shop to browse the ready-to-ship Pop Pouches!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Pop Pouch Sewing Pattern For Sale

I am pleased to announce that you can now purchase the Pop Pouch sewing pattern:

This is a pdf sewing pattern to make a standing pouch

that retracts

to a handy cup

for markers

and (if you're anything like my kids) more markers

of all kinds, 

or pencils,

or anything, really.

Over the the past few weeks, you've seen teaser photos of these Pop Pouches made by me and my testing team, and we've talked about kinds of fabric and other materials to use to make these. I love that they require very little yardage,  

making them perfect stash- and scrap- busters,

and which you can make multiples of in your favorite mix-and-match-es.

My kids never seem to have enough pouches and cases for their stationery and art supplies. There's always some specific need they have for each of their collections. Sometimes it's an enormous boxy utility case to contain their hundreds of skinny markers. Other times it's a fold-over-flappy tube of specially curated brush and fine-tip pens for lettering. Or it's a stationery holder that can be easily used on an airplane tray table, or in the pews at church, without their having to dump out everything to locate a favorite pencil. 

The old Better Marker Pouch was an early answer to this last need. But it was a fiddly sew, with a non-intuitive sequence, and an excess of padding, and a weird external-binding thingy that held everything together. 

This Pop Pouch, I thought, was a more elegant evolution. It's still vertically acrobatic like the Better Marker Pouch, and entire contents are still visible at a glance-

and easily accessed without having to dig deep down.

It takes a little longer to make than the old marker pouch but it's a more conventional and (I personally think) easier construction. For instance, that top zippered section

is exactly like this fully-open zippered pouch from my old Zip A Bag series. I love new things that utilize old principles, don't you?

Anyway, let'd dive into the nuts-and-bolts overview:

Q: How big is the Pop Pouch?

Here it is with a cupful of Crayola markers.

Q:  Is this made on the sewing machine or by hand?
A: The Pop Pouch is intended to be made with a sewing machine.

Q: What sort of skill level is this pattern suitable for?
A: I know that while some of you are intrigued by its up-and-down-slideyness, you might rightly be wondering if this is a project you could tackle at your current skill level. So let's talk about that now.

I'm going to start by saying that the Pop Pouch is not an entry-level project. My pattern testers recommend this project for someone with intermediate sewing skills. So if your comfort zone is flat (2D) projects like pillowcases and flat totes, this might be a challenge even with the step-by-step photos. If you've made a bucket-style bag (which involves attaching a cylinder to a flat base), you're probably good to go if you stick pretty close to the instructions. There's a zipper involved, and I take you through the entire process in the pattern, so if you've installed a zipper in the past, you're already one step ahead. The main reason for bumping this pattern up to an intermediate level is the smaller size of the base than other bucket-style constructions you might be used to. Sewing in confined spaces takes patience and maneuvering, but be assured that it can be done if you slow down and are careful.    

Here is a list of skills you will need. 

Q: Are there photos or is it just text instructions?
A: In the pattern are 40 instructional pages containing about 100 full-color photos and detailed text instructions. Here is a sample page:

Q: Will I need to enlarge the templates?
A: There are 3 pages of full-size templates to use as is - no enlargement needed. 

Q: What fabrics should I use?
A: There are many fabrics you can use that will produce a successful (and gorgeous!) product.

Here is the master materials list.

Below are more pages detailing recommended fabrics as well as alternatives if these cannot be found. When working with a new project, even with using the recommended materials, it's only after making a few versions that I discover a favorite combination of fabric types. In the case of the Pop Pouch, it was duck cloth and upholstery or canvas for the outer layers. I loved the small pieces of the Pop Pouch - I could experiment without feeling like I was sacrificing too much "prime" fabric! 

Q: Where can I buy these recommended fabrics?
A: This earlier post contains links to brick-and-mortar shops as well as online sources for some of these fabrics. In that post are also photos of specific examples of these recommended fabrics and stabilizers (interfacings) so you'll know what to look (or ask) for when you're shopping.

Q: What is the cost of the Pop Pouch Pattern?
A: USD$10.

If you would like to own a Pop Pouch but don't (or don't want to) sew, there will (eventually) be some ready-to-ship Pop Pouches in my Etsy shop

I am grateful for my pattern testers - Cecile, Grandma G, Katie Coleman, Maggie and Ruthie from Derbyshire, UK. They represent a wide spectrum of sewing experiences, backgrounds and personalities and their feedback was instrumental in the evolution of that first alpha draft into the version you guys will be using to make your own Pop Pouches. Thanks, you, ladies!

To my readers who hail from EU countries: the best way to buy a pdf pattern is probably via my etsy store. I've heard that the paypal-E-junkie interface may be funky for EU transactions, possibly because of the VATMOSS thing. At the end of this post are instructions on how to buy my patterns via Etsy.

And finally, thank you, all my lovely readers, for your enthusiasm and patience. I am happy to launch this pattern in time for pre-summer sewing, when road trips and other travel opportunities beckon. I'm planning to make some Pouches for the kids' teachers when they say goodbye at the end of the school year, too. 

Q: So how do we buy the Pop Pouch Pattern?

A: Buyers from countries in the EU: please email me directly (my email address is in the sidebar of my blog) and I will set up a reserved listing for you in my Etsy store. There are multiple ways to pay, and I will email you the pattern file as an attachment once the payment has been processed. It's fast and easy.

All other buyers: go here to buy the Pop Pouch Pattern. 

Happy sewing!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Pop Pouch - Pouches from the Testing Team

Hello friends! We're in the homestretch of the launch of the Pop Pouch sewing pattern - all the edits are done and the pattern will be available for sale in a day or two! I am beyond happy. I'll tell you more about it in the next post; today, I'm sharing photos from my team of pattern testers. Also, some random thoughts about the testing process.

First, I thought we'd chat a little about sewing patterns and markets. Nothing serious - just random thoughts that run through my brain at various stages in the pattern-development process. Maybe someone reading this might be thinking of launching their very first sewing pattern. And maybe this might help them. Maybe. If this isn't you, feel free to skip ahead to the photos, okay?

So, an important question for a pattern maker to ask themselves when they are conceptualizing a pattern is, "Who might want to use this pattern?"

The answer = the target market.

And then, when the pattern maker has created the pattern, another important question to ask is, "And whom should I have test my pattern to be sure it is good for those people who might want to use this pattern?"

The answer = also the target market.

In other words, They Who Test should ideally be a fair sample of They Who Might Use. It's kinda self-evident when stated this way but I didn't always understand this, especially when I first began writing patterns and tutorials. And now that I've written enough patterns and tutorials to observe my own evolution as a patternmaker/somewhat-technical writer, I will say that the process of pattern testing, for all its straightforwardness, has its own odd nuances. 

Here's an example.

If I were designing a sewing pattern for a felt donut, I might imagine that it would mostly appeal to people who
  • enjoyed making cute, crafty items for which practical use was not really the main goal
  • might have children in their lives to whom they might give the finished donut
  • were themselves children, teens or anyone young at heart
  • may or may not have prior experience making felt food but if not,
  • were comfortable with sewing simple two-dimensional projects, with maybe some hand-stitching, and thus be motivated to try making a felt donut.
and so on. Generalizations and stereotyping, yes, but a useful starting point for visualizing who the potential users might be. 

To ensure that this pattern were appropriately written for those potential users, it would be rational to choose testers who had at least some of the characteristics from that list. For instance, an obvious candidate might be someone who has had past experience in making felt food. Another obvious candidate might be a mother of grade-school children who has made dress-up clothes and the occasional Waldorf doll and who might not yet have jumped on the felt food wagon but might have had it on her ever-lengthening to-do list.

But what about, say, a fashion school student looking to master advanced drafting and draping who happened to own a sewing machine and some scrap felt? 

Less obvious, but an option nonetheless. Because who's to say that a fashion student whose priorities (and strengths) lay in custom fit and experimental media couldn't also produce a fabulous felt donut? And possibly even transcend  generic FeltFood-dom with a felt donut so cutting-edge blingy and gorgeously textured as to inspire runway trends well into the next decade?

I mean, provided that said fashion student were so inclined. Or skilled. It's often hard to know what skills and techniques are truly transferable before undertaking the actual making, isn't it?

If they did rise to the challenge, however, I'd have a pattern tester who was appropriately capable but who might be working outside their comfort zone. Which could be all kinds of awesome: fewer preconceived notions, atypical insight into a new-to-them creative process, a truer gauge of the efficacy of the written instructions. Would such a person be representative of my intended target audience? Probably not as much as someone of the More Obvious camp. But what if I'd drawn the boundaries of my target audience too close to home in the first place? What if I aimed to communicate instructions in language so plain and free of FeltFood-vernacular that even non-FeltFood people could feel like  part of the party? 

I broached this to give you a peek into my mind as I was short-listing my testing team. The hypothetical felt donut pattern had a certain niche following; the Pop Pouch's was a little more nebulous. For starters, the requisite skill level: being an intermediate-level project meant that the feedback from beginner-level testers might be far less diagnostic than that from testers with commensurate ability. 

Then there was the scope of application. By that, I mean that I imagined all kinds of people in all kinds of settings using Pop Pouches. Students toting them around school  attached to their trapper keepers. Teachers using them on their desks to stash white board markers and felt-tips for grading papers. Children of all ages organizing their coloring supplies at home, on a plane, on a road trip, in grandma's house. Artists, crafters and seamstresses filling them with tools, notions, stationery, art supplies, cosmetic brushes, . . .  Ultimately, whenever and wherever a person might employ a mug or jar to hold and access sticky-out things, that person might be interested in making and using a Pop Pouch.

Now, I didn't list all those uses to brag about the Pouch's versatility (that I'll do in the next post! Haha!) but to explain that a pattern's target market could well be larger than I'd initially imagined. Consider: someone who's made other pencil cases could be naturally drawn to its familiarity. Someone who's never sewn a pencil case but who's had prior experience in making bags or quilts might be intrigued by the precision hinted at in its construction. Someone else who's only ever sewn garments might see it as a useful receptacle for their sewing tools and be motivated by need to take it on. Caregivers of children might be interested simply because they believe those children would make good use of it.

Thus if the testing team were to faithfully represent this wide target market, I could have literally picked anyone and their feedback would've all been helpful in a myriad of interesting and insightful ways. As long as they met the basic skill requirement required to perform the sewing tasks involved, I believed that each had something unique and valuable to contribute.

And it was indeed so. I selected testers with a variety of experiences. Some mainly sewed garments with the occasional pencil case or pouch on the side; others were primarily bag-makers. Some were teachers of the craft, themselves familiar with directing other folks to sew things. Some were avid pattern users, with particular preferences and learning styles. Some were good at noticing and sticking to details in text; some were more comfortable wrapping their minds around the general approach and "winging it" thereafter. Some were combinations thereof; others none of those things. 

What rockstars those five ladies were! Over a fortnight in March, they read the pattern and each from the instructions therein produced a Pop Pouch which you will see in the following photographs, all while real life continued to happen around them. Their feedback was plentiful and varied, from which I was able to make important revisions and improvements. I am immensely grateful. Thank you, ladies - the final version of the pattern is better because of your work on that early draft. 

And now, let's meet the testing team and their Pop Pouches! You'll see the variety of fabrics they used - both of the kind recommended in the pattern and substitutes. 

In alphabetical order:

Cecile, who blogs here, and has an instagram account here.

Katie Coleman:

Grandma G, who posted about her Pop Pouch on her blog here and her instagram here

Maggie, who shared these in-progress shots with me,

and Ruthie from Derbyshire, UK. Ruthie made three pouches in different fabrics, including denim and faux leather. Read her blog post here to read more about her experience and to see more photos of her Pop Pouches.

I was so excited to see these Pouches popping (ha ha) up in my inbox as the ladies were finishing their work and turning in their comments and suggestions. 

See you back here in a day or two for the pattern launch!