Welcome to Crafting 101! The chance where we get to showcase our lovely and amazing guests here at Hochanda! In Crafting 101, you can expect helpful Top Tips, Tutorials, Video Q&As and more! This blog is for all you nifty crafters to enjoy! This month’s guest is Mrs H, with a fantastic Q&A to cover all things bag making!
Here’s a little bit about them
Samantha Hussey, known as Mrs H, is a bag sewing patterns designer living in the beautiful valleys area of Wales with her husband and daughter. Samantha began making bags when she needed a thrifty gift for a friend, and quickly discovered that her dyslexia enabled her to see 3D shapes as their two-dimensional parts. She put this superpower to good use and began designing her own range of modern bag patterns with the aim of making tricky styles accessible to all.
What does your craft room look like? Are you a tidy or messy crafter?
Ha ha! I shouldn’t laugh, but we’ve just moved the Mrs H studio from Wales to Cornwall, so right now it’s mostly full of boxes! I’ve been popping photos up on my social feeds of the revamp of the
new studio space, but it’s a fair way from being ready to share finished photos! Generally, I’m a tidy crafter. While bagmaking may come before housework in the dictionary, I find it easier to enjoy sewing if my crafting space is clutter-free. I have separate desks for admin work and for sewing, and try to keep each tidy. I’ve found that little hacks can make a big difference in keeping a crafting space organised. For instance, I added a small hook to my Janome HD9 sewing machine, so that my snips are always close at hand.
Aside from this, I usually have my fabric all neatly folded (using a shirt butler) and stacked in one of my glass-fronted cabinets, making it easy to see what I have in my stash. The cabinets also make a fun and colourful backdrop for when I’m filming sew alongs or video tutorials. My thread is organised by colour on a special rack made by my husband, my zips hang in colour groups from the side of my cutting table (a kitchen island from IKEA), and I even sort my buttons by colour group!
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Each of my bag sewing patterns is specially designed to teach a technique or skill to help ‘bagineers’ along their bagmaking journey – whether they’re entirely new to bagmaking or have been making bags for some time. So, my inspiration always starts with ‘What do I want to teach next?’ For example, The Ring Sling pattern teaches how to use clever construction to reduce the amount of stabliser you need, The Jangles Anchor Bag demonstrates how to create an internal divider pocket, and The Bucket Tote teaches how to add an oval base to a bag as well as giving practice sewing around curves.
For my most recent sewing pattern, The Button Lock Bag, I fell in love with a beautiful piece of bag hardware from Emmaline Bags – a button lock catch. I designed the bag to help my bagineers to use the hardware. There are also some other fun little techniques in this pattern, too, like using darts on the front panel to add a little more room inside the bag, and how to add a secret slip pocket beneath the flap of the bag.
My bagineers most definitely appreciate the skillbuilding theme, too. We’ve just learned that my range of bag sewing patterns was selected as Most Inspiring in the Craft Business Awards, and my business was voted as the Best Stitching Brand.
Can you tell us a little bit about what got you into crafting? Why did you decide to focus on bags?
My grandma taught me some sewing and yarn crafts when I was a child, and I studied sewing at GCSE level, but it wasn’t until a little over ten years ago that I started making bags. I needed a thrifty gift and couldn’t find a pattern I liked, so I drafted my own. Others liked my style, so I began writing down my designs. I soon found out that, thanks to my dyslexia, I have a rather fun superpower that lets me picture 3D shapes as their 2D components – an ideal skill for designing bag sewing patterns!
What other crafts are you into?
I’ve dabbled in patchwork and quilting, and even had a go at knitting, but bag making is my passion. As well as creating my range of patterns, I have written a guide to modern bag making techniques – The Complete Bag Making Masterclass. I also run a bag sewing pattern subscription club and host bag making retreats – when we’re not locked down, of course! The only downside to being so busy sharing my passion is that I have less time to sew for myself than I’d like!
As always, we hope that this blog has helped to inspire you to pick up your crafting kits and join along with us.