The All Well Bucket Bag sewing pattern is out in the world! It’s a classic bucket bag sewing pattern with convertible straps to go from backpack to shoulder bag. And there’s a mini version, which also has a purse-length variation! The bag is unlined and has two exterior pockets and one interior pocket.
For the past few months I’ve been collaborating with Amy Bornman to help produce the first two patterns for her creative sewing studio, All Well Workshop. We met on sewing instagram, and it’s been super fun to work together, across the distance between Pittsburgh and Seattle, via phone calls, video chats, emails and google docs.
This was the first time I’ve made a digital sewing pattern, and it was so fun teaching myself how make the PDF versions. (It was easier than I thought! I’m in the process of writing up a tutorial series on how to do sewing pattern making in Sketch, which is faster to work in than Illustrator, and also more reasonably priced. If you’re a pattern designer and want to talk about your process, I would love to chat! /contact)
Here’s a bit of what it looks like to make a pattern in Sketch, for those of you who like to see how things are made!
First, you draw all the shapes of the pattern pieces at the right size. Each line or bit of text is on a separate layer, and then they are grouped into pattern pieces that can be re-arranged. (You can see that in the left sidebar.)
Then you add markings, like the grain line, pattern company logo, and notches. I really liked using re-usable symbols for all the repeated bits, that made things go quickly. (Those are the purple icons.) For example, the little rectangle box that labels each pattern piece is symbol, and then I just have to edit the text overrides to customize name of the individual pattern piece and how many of the piece to cut.
Another nice thing about symbols is that when you update the main one, it updates the styles everywhere - so when we changed the working name of the pattern to the final one, it just took a couple seconds to update across all the pieces, for both versions of the PDF.
I made all the repeated elements in the pattern into symbols, like the grain line marking, grommet and pocket placement marks, and so on.
I also made all the lines use styles to change their appearance - for example, the mini size of the bag uses a dotted line, and the regular size uses a solid line. Using appearance styles let me change the style of dots, thickness of the lines, and so on in one place, and then it would update all the pattern pieces at once.
Not to say it was easy, producing this pattern was definitely a lot of work. But this pattern-making setup really kept the work squarely in the design side of things - what will the finished product look like when you sew it? - and removed all the tedious bits of updating the same thing in many places. I’m really excited to finish writing up the tutorials so other people can try making patterns this way too.
Anyways! I am thrilled with learning the pattern making process, and how much fun it was doing the technical writing and editing on the instructions with Amy. They are super detailed, with lots of diagrams and drawings and practical tips. And we got feedback from a bunch of brilliant testers, who made the bag (or several) and filled out detailed feedback surveys which helped us improve it quite a lot! (Loads of gorgeous tester photos on #allwellbucketbag on instagram, and on the All Well blog. And some of my visual inspiration, here.)
I’m happy! We created a pattern and instructions booklet that can be followed along by people with various skill levels and get a good bag! (Maybe even your new favorite bag!) And you learn how to set grommets, which is very satisfying! And the bag skills are super transferable to sewing other bags in the future! I think it’s a good thing in the world.
Here’s the link again if you want to make one: https://www.amybornman.com/all-well-bucket-bag-sewing-pattern!