Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Makeup Pouches and Etsy Thoughts

One of my favourite parts of the quilting process is combing fabrics, whether it's all one family or several. I really like making makeup bags either with 2.5" charm squares or strips. Last week I sold a deep blue makeup pouch and this week I've made two more, one in white and ivory, the other in pinks. I kind of went down a rabbit hole, aka had a Drop Everthing And Make it! moment.

I've adapted the latest few to use Noodlehead's zipper application that allows the bag to open to its full extent. These two came about because I'd cut a few charms from scraps from my spring tote bag I made for Benartex. I never make just one bag these days, always two as it's a more efficient use of time.

Here is the inside of the newest ones which you can find listed here in my Etsy shop, SandraJaneQuilts.
I used Freeform, a Paintbrush Studio fabric for the lining of the pink pouch.

'Evelyn's Etched Tulips' by Benartex Designer Fabrics is the lining for the ivory pouch.

I recently sold this bag, which I just love.
Those six fabrics are all from different lines and companies. It's a big bag, as you can see, mind you, I'm a small person, just 5'2". It measures 20.5" across the top edge and is 16" in height. I sold three locally for $65, and each person thought the price should be higher. To me it was fair though. So when I put this on Etsy, I knew I wanted $65, maybe a little more since these customers were my yoga students and I figured I was giving them a bit of a break at that price. I decided to ask $85. Wait a minute, you may be thinking.

I offer free shipping within Canada, free in the US on purchases over US$35. It's up to businesses to build the cost of shipping into the price of the item. This bag went to Ontario, and cost $17 to ship. Etsy fees were 10%, so that left me with $59.50, less than sold locally! Wait - what??
Maybe the next bag needs to be $90 (throws hands up in air) in order for me to take home closer to $65 (which is very reasonable imho)? I'm writing this here so that if you are buying handmade items on Etsy and they have free shipping, know that the cost is built in. In other words, that $50 sign does not give the maker $50 in her pocket.

I also am making a little PSA here about patterns. I designed the suitcase quilt pattern below for an Island Batik challenge in January 2019. Click the image to find it on Etsy.

I called it Oh, the Places You'll Go!! There are two styles of suitcase, and each suitcase has a different vacation-themed quilt block on the pocket. One of the pockets is actually a real pocket. Last summer I made a reading pillow for Brady with the actual useable pocket, which is now included in the updated pattern.

I was inspired to make this quilt by the graphic Island Batik had for the hop. About a year ago, someone else designed a suitcase quilt, and it got a lot of attention on Instagram, as the designer is a fairly well-known. I was understandably upset since this person had been an ambassador at the same time as I was, and I thought I had designed something pretty unique... I felt ripped off. Her suitcases do not have the cute little side 'pockets', nor do they have wheels, so okay, I didn't have a case really to argue... But then I found out that her suitcase quilt is almost identical to one designed by Lisa of Love to Color My World for Paintbrush Studio and it's a free download. Lisa's, unbeknownst to me, was released a couple of months before I made mine, but I had not seen it until last year about this time when I started investigating suitcase quilts.
Free download!
The only differences between Lisa's and the 'new' one you may have seen on Instagram are that the original one has two different backgrounds, and the handles are straight whereas the 'new' one is all one background and has HSTs to create an angle on the handle. Makes me both mad and sad. There is a lot of discussion in the quilt world about intellectual property; Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts has written some good posts about it. I guess honesty and integrity are just not so common, even in the, what I like to think of as generous and good-willed, quilting community.

As you have seen, makers and pattern designers don't make a lot of profit, though the margins are a bit better for digital patterns than actual handmade items. However, speaking for myself, I put in a LOT more hours when I'm designing and writing up a pattern than I do to make, say, the quilted tote bag. And I pay for tech-editing which also eats into the profits but it's money well-spent as I am proud of my patterns, and confident that they are well-written.

On a happier making and designing note, on Tuesday I hit a milestone in my Etsy shop: my 300th sale! What was the item bought?
A star quilt of course. I emailed the buyer to let her know she was my 300th sale and I offered her a prize: her choice of any other quilt pattern. She was tickled pink, said she never wins anything. She chose...

😊 I still am blown away by how popular this design is!

Next week I have another new pattern to release! Watch for something new in two weeks with a pattern launch! I've asked a few friends who have tested patterns before if they would like to make one of the three projects within this next pattern, which has already been tech-edited. So they aren't testing, just sewing happily away. A little more info will be forthcoming. Here is the schedule:

Wednesday June 8: A cushion, aka pillow cover
Thursday June 9: A bed runner
Friday June 10: A baby quilt

These are my fabrics for the baby quilt, all from Benartex Designer Fabrics.The swirls is a wide back.

Some are Chalk Texture by Cherry Guidry, some are Shadow Blush (these are great; I've worked with them before), and the white is Vanilla one of the Superior Solids. These are not my usual palette, but after making Bohemian Rhapsody, I just loved that border, so was inspired by those colours.

All right! I'm off to sew up these fabrics... wait I have a little gardening to do first.


  1. Enjoyed this post & reading about similar/same patterns around & one of the reasons I'm not really game enough to put mine out as patterns, in case of the consequences of some sort of law-suit. You are TALLER than me, being under 5' now, but at my tallest before old age hit, I was ........5' and a 1/2". I'm loving your Pop Star pattern too, so can understand why the lady chose it. Those colours above are so like my Whimsy quilts which you've seen and I like the colours together as they remind of a bed of mixed flowers. Take care & hugs from a cool down under.

  2. Shipping and fees are definitely increasing year over year (sometimes it feels month over month), too. It's a lot to balance and try to figure out. I think I have seen the pattern you mention recently on IG and I definitely paused and thought, but I've seen this from Sandra, right? Sending you love and hoping that people who purchase your patterns are absolutely delighted and return again and again.

  3. Like Yvonne I have noticed the suitcase pattern, perhaps some of these people think it's okay to change one or two things and call it theirs. I like your pattern better! The Etsy fees are always going up, too much in my opinion. Congrats on the 300th sale!!

  4. I've seen that pattern on IG too and it definitely made me pause and wonder. I still like yours better. Those little pouches are too cute. I love PopStar, and need to add it to my patterns. Looking forward to the next reveal, too!

  5. Congrats on 300 sales!! That is a great achievement!! Fees are going up, shipping has increased - it is tough out there! Along with the others, I have seen the other pattern and wondered about it. Even with a few changes here and there, it is hard not to notice the huge similarity. I am sorry this has happened.

  6. Sandra, a lot here to comment on. First, love your bags, I love making them for gifts, I must try Noodleheads zipper application as I like how the bags fully open. Congratulations on your 300th sale! I'm not crazy about Etsy raising their sellers fees, as I love supporting my quilting friends and stores I've found on Etsy. I've bought 2 of your patterns and can't wait for the reveal of your next! It helps having gotten a printer to print out patterns now vs paying for S&H charges tho being old school I do like the printed patterns. Re: pattern similarities? Having quilted for 35 years, I've seen patterns, some which I have, that have been renamed and published as new. Some I see from quilters who aren't familiar with older ones perhaps? It is very discouraging nonetheless for all pattern designers.

  7. Oh, I forgot to mention, I love the fabric colors you've chosen for the baby quilt! It reminds me of summer: sherbet, popsicles, ice cream, just yummy colors! No wonder we love fondling fabric - and for me sometimes having a hard time cutting it up.

  8. Hi Sandra! I am excited on your next pattern release. That's the reason you gave up being an IBA so yippee! I have seen the suitcases on IG and just shake my head. How fabulous about your 300th sale!! That's fab. I have mixed feeling about Etsy but what other venue is there to compete with them? I have been planning to purchase Pop Star but now I'll wait to see what your next offering is. {{Hugs}} a bunch! I'm so proud of you. ~smile~ Roseanne

  9. Wonderful makeup bags. I really like the white/cream combo and that surprises me because I'm too practical and see it getting dirty easily. I do understand your dilemma about pricing an item and covering the S&H in the price. Everything is so expensive to ship these days!! It is a beautiful bag. And if one was serious about wanting it another $10+ should not be a deal breakers. I, too have seen the suitcase travel quilt new this spring and thought it was close to yours. It is unfortunate that with a modification or two one can call it a new pattern. I love those new fabrics and am definitely looking forward to seeing the patterns. I'm interested in a bed runner this year. Might make some for Christmas presents.

  10. Congratulations on the 300 sales!!! I love your little zipper pouches! Very cute!

  11. I think that there is, of course, an aspect of our art that makes "derivative" pieces inevitable. However, there is also copying. I was at a quilt show and looked at a quilt, and I had the same pattern and kit at home. The tag said the design was original to the maker. Nope, I don't think so.
    A whole known American bag designer just released a bunch of new bag patterns. At least two of those designs look an awful lot like designs already available from Canadian designers.
    I saw the pattern you are referring to on Instagram and I honestly thought it was yours.