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Saturday, 5 January 2019

My Top 5 Free Tutorials

Presenting my top five freebie tutorials...
Happy new year to you!

What better way to celebrate a blog that recently turned five years old than to do a highlight reel (or a "clip show" in TV terms) of the top five freebies that I've shared here since 2014?

Not interested? Too bad, it's my blog. :-P

Seriously, though, if you haven't been a regular visitor since day one or you're not a regular visitor period, this will be a convenient summary of five projects that maybe you've never seen before and might be interested in taking on during the coming dark days of winter.

Or the not so dark days of summer, if you're from down under.

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The data I'm using to arrive at "top 5" status is the number of visits as recorded by Blogger for each of my tutorial posts. I realize that this number is unfairly influenced by the amount of time that the post has been around (i.e., older posts tend to have more visits, hence four of the five are from 2014); however, this is not science and the fact that most of these posts are older may be beneficial in bringing them to the attention of readers who missed them the first time around.

So with that in mind, here are my top five tutorials — in classic David Letterman style, starting at number five.

#5: Crafty Cosmetics Caddy

The Crafty Cosmetics Caddy was the first pattern that I developed for actual sale. A week after its release, on April 5, 2014, I posted an abbreviated version of the instructions here as a freebie.

It's an example of a simple item that — once it's been demonstrated how useful it can be — ends up being an indispensable part of your life. At least, that's the way it's been for me.

Crafty Cosmetics Caddy by eSheep Designs
My indispensable traveling makeup caddy...

This caddy has gone on every single trip that I've taken since I made it. Its job is to make life on the road more convenient (and a little bit more like home) by keeping my everyday needs within reach and not stuffed inside a toiletry bag.

Coincidentally enough, even though I arbitrarily divided the pockets on this test version, it turned out to accommodate my daily makeup items perfectly. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Crafty Cosmetics Caddy by eSheep Designs
It's reversible!

It's even meant to be reversible (although I always use it with the brown side out).

Oh, and here are some fun facts about the fabrics: the brown is a faux suede that used to be a skirt. The blue came from a drapery panel.

#4: Make It Yours Bag

I posted about the MIY bag only a couple of weeks ago, so I won't go into too much more detail today.

Make it Yours Bag by eSheep Designs
My first Make it Yours test bag...

It was originally meant to be a pattern for sale, but after making several test bags, I lost interest in perfecting it and ultimately decided to give it away "as is". (Which is not to say that the instructions are lacking in any way, since my Craftsy customers have actually rated it highly.)

Of these five projects, the Make it Yours Bag is the only one whose instructions have not been unveiled here on this blog; they're only available as a download.

And since Craftsy was so kind as to keep this pattern in my shop, you can download the PDF here.

#3: Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray

My original take on the collapsible travel tray, this tutorial was posted on February 15, 2014. (This was one of the PDF patterns that was eliminated from my Craftsy shop.)

Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
My first attempt at a flat pack travel tray...

Like virtually every other project that I've ever dreamed up, it came about to serve a personal need. I wanted something easy to travel with that could sit on a bedside table and hold my jewelry at night.

And since I saw a way to "cut a corner" from the basic four-sided tray (which I eventually presented as a project three years later), I made this one in the shape of a triangle. The binder clips provided a simple solution to secure the sides without additional sewing.

This little item is now permanently kept out at our vacation home. For traveling, I "upgraded" to one of my four sided trays. ;-)

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#2: MyTie Makeover Mini Bag

Of all the things that I have made over the past five years and some, the one that makes me feel the most accomplished is the MyTie. Sewing a purse out of a single tie was an idea that took over my world for a few months, and finding no solution in any existing tutorial or pattern, I felt compelled to come up with a solution myself.

MyTie Makeover Mini Bag by eSheep Designs
My very first MyTie test bag...

So over a period of many weeks, I posted about the whole journey from concept to creation and unveiled a successful test bag (the one shown here) on October 18, 2014.

While I ended up making three different styles of these MyTie bags to package up into a pattern for sale, you may not know that there is also a series of posts on this blog that detail the making of this bag as a freebie tutorial. It takes a bit of reading, but it's totally DIY-able.

MyTie Makeover Mini Bag by eSheep Designs
An unexpectedly roomy interior...

For the fact that I am most proud of this creation, there are two odd outcomes of this project to report. Number one is the fact that I never did cut into my dad's one and only tie. Number two is that I've probably only used one of these bags, once.

Weird, huh?

But they're hanging in my sewing room and I see them everyday. And every time I look at them, I'm reminded of the reason they came into being: as a tribute to my dad. I believe many of the people who have used my pattern/tutorial to make their own versions have done so for similar purposes. (I've made this suggestion before, but if you have a vintage brooch from your mother and a tie from your father, this would make an awesome memorial keepsake for you or your daughter.)

#1: Wave Purse Organizer

And the top tutorial is... of course, the first tutorial that I ever posted, on January 4, 2014, five years ago yesterday. (Part one is here; part two here; it's also still available — surprise! — as a PDF download from my Craftsy shop.) It is actually number one by several country miles.

Wave Purse Organizer by eSheep Designs
My very first original creation...

Regardless of order of placement on this list, however, the WPO tutorial holds a special place in my heart just because it was the first. The post brought interest to my blog and snagged my first reader comments.

It was also inspired by a personal need, although at the time, I had — and still have — a store-bought version that I use.

Wave Purse Organizer by eSheep Designs
All things in life should be this simple and effective...

I believe the decision to add a curve to the top edge of the pockets was what made this project a winner, because people really appreciated the varying pocket heights that resulted. Talk about a simple solution to a common conundrum!

Sharp-eyed readers may notice my brown skirt fabric here again. The tone on tone beige fabric was from yet another drapery panel, that was also used for my #3 project. (Let's just say that I started my blogging adventure with very little traditional fabric.)

Hope you enjoyed taking this little side trip down memory lane with me today. And if I've managed to inspire you along the way, that's awesome!

And a Final Note About Craftsy

By now you may have heard that Craftsy dumped a great number of its independent designer pattern shops from its marketplace on December 28. While my shop was one of the fortunate ones to have been allowed to remain, my pattern inventory was chopped from thirty to just eight.

In response, I had to go out and populate my Makerist shop (yes, the same one I was having issues over) to a certain extent.

I have also added "Buy Now" buttons to my PDF Pattern Shop blog page so that visitors who don't mind waiting for me to send them their PDF can buy them directly from me. (The trade-off for the wait is that my price will be less — anywhere from 20% to 33% — than the prices on Makerist, where purchases are instantly available.)

It's a work in progress as I wait for Craftsy to come up with a new plan for us, but for now, at least I have options to continue selling my patterns.

By the way, the Craftsy name is soon to be no more. The rebranding to Bluprint will be complete as of January 8. I for one think that the original name was much more fun and descriptive.


  1. Happy blog anniversary! I remember all of those postings. I will be interested to hear how the patterns sell on your blog. I had tried that very early on with my one pattern at the time and made 2 sales. I put it on sale and was new to blogging then, so I am sure that was a factor.

  2. happy anniversary to you! Thanks for the info about Craftsy. I am one of those who bought a zillion classes and now is going "huh?" I don't much care for the Bluprint approach and can't find things in that new, NOT improved, format. My free trial period is about to end, and I will be canceling out of it. But I had no idea about the pattern makers getting dumped - that is horrible! I think they've taken a comfortable place where everyone could share and made it so modern that no one will want to use it. Oh well, others will have more positive opinions I'm sure. Good for you for having such a positive attitude, and thanks so much for your generosity with the patterns. I'm not the best sewer, and I learn by doing easier projects and then build up. So when I try one of your tutorials, it gives me the strength and skills to go forward.

    1. PS I've been wanting to make slippers for the longest time - I'm going to give yours a try!

    2. Thank you so much for your praise and encouragement; it's most appreciated and I wish you all the best in becoming the best sewer that you can be!

      Let me reassure you that (to the best of my knowledge) Craftsy/Bluprint will be maintaining the individual class libraries for those who bought single classes in the past. (However, I did post about the worst case scenarios regarding this over a year ago.) I would recommend that you start watching your purchased classes, however, because you just never know.

      About the free marketplace for pattern designers, I knew this day was coming and ensured that I had some sort of backup plan. So yes, it's a bummer that it's gone, but it was never meant to be sustainable for long. I'm really just hoping that they will come back with a marketplace that we can use, because it's a known entity and that helps us small sellers be noticed.

      Thanks again — also for the shout-out re: my slippers tutorial!


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