Betz White: the Pattern Guru - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Betz White: the Pattern Guru

Betz White is back in action sewing up some extremely practical yet stunning patterns for the every day on-the-go kind of gal. Luckily we caught her today to talk a bit about her new additions.

Thanks for inviting me today to share the newest additions to my Make New or Make Do™ sewing pattern collection.

As you may be aware, my motto is “stitch beautifully, tread lightly”. Each of my sewing patterns is designed to be sewn using new materials or by repurposing something second hand. I encourage the use of organic fabrics when possible as well as giving used or vintage materials a second look and a hopefully second life!

The first pattern I’d like to share is the Alice Book Bag. This messenger style bag has a vertical format, so it’s easy to sling cross-shoulder, keeping it handy at the hip. It’s sized big enough for a magazine, sketchbook, water bottle, wallet, etc. This is a great bag to use for a day out window shopping, museum visiting or running errands. There are two small interior pockets and a larger slip pocket on the back of the bag. The funky grommets give it an updated style and also allow the strap to convert from cross shoulder into a double shoulder strap. I’m sort of a geek for multiple functions, but if you’d like to keep it simple, it’s easy enough to choose a fixed strap length that suits you. By the way, the grommets require no fancy equipment to attach. They simply snap together with your fingers.

Next up, the Sidekick Sling! I carried this bag at quilt market and received a lot of compliments. It’s a great size that holds your essentials plus a bit more, keeping it light. You’ll notice that the easy-to-use grommets make another appearance, this time with a swoopy asymmetrical top-line that reveals a pop-color lining. The Sidekick has two large outside pockets, small interior pockets and a magnetic snap closure.

Both the Alice Book Bag and the Sidekick Sling are made up in hefty hemp and organic cotton canvas from my Modmax™ print collection, available at For a vintage vibe, I’ve also made the Sidekick out of a repurposed table cloth and the Alice would make up nicely out of retro curtains or a vintage home dec print.

My third pattern this spring is the Cadet Cap, an all around versatile hat sized to fit the whole family. The Cadet is a great alternative to a baseball cap and can be made up in a fun print of or a neutral solid to go with any outfit. I made one using fabric from an out-grown pair of khaki cargos for my 9 year old son and he loves it. And as someone who is forever trying to keep the sun off of my own face, this hat will get a lot of use.

My pattern design ideas are usually sparked by a need (such as a casual everyday bag with style) or a design element (like big grommets and convertible straps) or a thrift store find, ripe for repurposing (such as a great vintage pillowcase). I begin with rough sketches in my sketchbook then move on to sewing prototypes. Earlier this spring I posted a little bit of my process on my blog. Often times I go about things the hard way, focusing on making something work while somehow over-looking the obvious. But that’s just part of my process and I usually come full circle, discovering something along the way that would’ve never occurred in a straight line process! Most times I go through 5-6 prototypes before finalizing a design that’s got the right lines, proportions, details and fit. Following my notes taken during the prototype phase, I create detailed diagrams and full sized patterns in Illustrator. Next I write the step by step instruction, including details on making each item utilizing repurposed materials. At that point I send off my patterns to a copy editor to proof and pattern testers to sew, review, and comment on each design. It’s very important to me that my instructions are complete and easy to follow. Once I make the final tweaks and improvements, we shoot the cover image and send it off to the printer. All in all, it’s a lot of work! Of course, it’s a labor of love and the best reward is feedback from people enjoying the patterns. It’s a thrill to see what they’ve sewn shared in the Make New or Make Do™ Flickr group.

In Fall 2011 you’ll see more new sewing pattern designs complimented by my first print line of organic quilting cottons licensed with Robert Kaufman! I’ve just received my sample yardage and I’m ecstatic to dive in and bring two of my longtime dreams together. Look for a sneak peek of the line coming in July!

Betz White