Return of the Bonsai Bag

Yay!  I’m so happy to be able to show you a few samples for the Bonsai Bag Sewing Pattern which will be forthcoming.  Here they are (along with the brown one I made last year)!  I have to admit with fall on the horizon they are a little summery compared to the brown one but I loves thems anyhoos.

Update: Bonsai enjoyed some time in the Made By Rae shop, but is now resting on its laurels and is no longer available as a sewing pattern.

That blue Princess and the Pea one there has been in progress for almost a year.  I started with a ric-rac trim which I scrapped for pompoms and then got hung up on the recessed zipper and had to tear out the entire thing, but don’t worry, this bag does not take a whole year to make, haha (smooth, Rae, that’s great advertising *rolls eyes*).  In fact one can be assembled in a few hours, and honestly now that I’ve gotten the kinks ironed out with the pattern pieces, the zipper part is easy-peasy.

To answer the question I always get when I talk about a new pattern, no, it will not be free. Sometimes I feel bad about charging for patterns because I really like getting free things on the internet and I like giving stuff away for free.  But then I start counting all the hours I’ve poured into this thing and will, yet. It’s a conundrum for sure, because free patterns bring new people to the website, and so many of you have emailed me asking for tips on how to make and digitize your sewing patterns (I hope to post about that soon!) that I know you must be thinking about it too, for your own blogs. And I think that’s fantastic, we should keep sharing with eachother and don’t worry, I have plenty of free patterns in my brain for y’all. But I also think it’s important to assign value the work that you do, even if it’s online and doesn’t feel like a “real job.” I’m lucky enough to have been able to start a small business from what I do here on the blog (most of my revenue comes from pattern sales, with a much smaller part coming from advertising/sponsors), but I often still find myself undervaluing my time and skills, especially when I compare myself to professional designers who have true industry training.  But when all’s said and done I think I still do a pretty good job producing nice patterns, even if I go about it in a completely unprofessional way. Can we call it “organic” instead of “unprofessional”? That sounds so much nicer….

Anyway, do you want to see some closer shots of the bags?  One of the things I like about this pattern is that it takes very little of the center fabric (basically a 10×10 square for each side) and shows it off nicely.  This one is made with Heather Ross’ Princess and the Pea fabric from her Far Far Away collection, framed with a pale blue baby wale corduroy:

And this one is a Heather Bailey print from her Freshcut collection, framed by a pale pink baby wale cord:

This one was inspired by my weekend in Vermont. Denyse Schmidt showed us how to do a fabulously easy strip quilting project and I really wanted to try the technique for this purse, so I did on both the front and the back. I imagine you could take any small quilt sampler and use it for that middle panel (zigzag, patchwork, embroidery, you name it).

Most of the fabric on the center panel is from Denyse’s Katie Jump Rope line from a few years back.  I made a bunch of other stuff with it and all that remained is a bunch of scraps — perfect for a small quilt project.

64 thoughts on “Return of the Bonsai Bag

  1. Item one, I love that you have both free and for purchase patterns. They both take oodles of time.
    Item two, the purses are fabulous. I like the idea of getting more bang for your buck with designer stuff in small quantities.
    Item three, you are awesome.
    The end.

  2. Such adorableness (not sure if that is a word) but I love the white bag!! I love all the bright colors against the white. I also lvoe the brown bag…perfect for fall!!!

  3. So cute! Great job, as always. And I'm sure I can speak for myself and others in saying that we value your time as well, and don't mind buying patterns now and then. In fact, it makes me feel less guilty for taking all of the free ones from your site!

  4. I think we as sewists/quilters devalue our time far too often. I love that you have free patterns as well as patterns for sale. I think its entirely appropriate to charge for them. Love the blog. Love your work.

  5. Stop it. Right now. Do not apologize for not giving your hard work away. You deserve to be compensated for your time, energy, efforts, and all that frustration ripping seams out. You choose your compensation – oodles of new blog readers, oodles of adoring comments, oodles of cash (ha! don't we wish!), or the oodles of warm fuzzies you feel as folks download your stuff. But don't ever feel like you need to justify your decision. We your readers are thankful you are here and designing fun new stuff. If we don't want to pay to play, we have that right. But you shouldn't feel like you have to bribe us into staying with free stuff.

    Sorry – this is a bit of an irk of mine. I'll get off my soap box now. The purses are adorable! Love that princess and the pea fabric. And the ties on the handles. Gorgeous stuff!

  6. I shall echo what has already been said – I am happy you are charging for this pattern!

    Yes, free patterns are fun, but by charging for the really good ones, you are giving your readers a way to support you. That is so important. And a pattern is a lot less tacky than a large flashing "donate!!" button.

    Also – I really love how this design features one fancy panel. I have been piecing together little patchworks as well, and they would be perfect for this bag!

    Also #2 – All designers should use pompom trim in all their designs. Just sayin'.

  7. You so don't need to explain yourself for selling the pattern to this fabulous bag! Why is it that we underestimate the value of our work so often ( I do it too!) I'm thinking it's mostly because we love what we do so much it feels odd to call it 'work'.

    I'm so going to enter your give away! Love them all but my favorite is the Katie Jump rope one.

    x Leila

  8. These are gorgeous! It's so nice that you can really showcase a fabric in the center panel without using too much of it up. I particularly love how crisp and colorful the white patchwork one is. 🙂 And for heaven's sake, there's no need to feel bad about offering a pattern for sale rather than for free! I can't even imagine how much time you must have invested in it, after all.

  9. It's a fantastic bag design. They look great! Definitely worth charging for.. i can see you would have spent much time on the design. Sometimes people appreciate this even more when they pay for it.

  10. Oh Rae! Hello lady! Holding back on the pattern news. Love it. I mean, love them. Really cool style and cute combos. And great words about selling patterns vs. free info. Perfectly stated. Can't wait to see the pattern!

  11. Adorable 🙂 You know… free patterns are generally worth just that, you know? 2 or 3 pieces, simply put together, that don't require much instructions if any? That would just feel like robbery to pay for. But something like this, with embellishments and pleats and little tabs for the handles and…yeah, that's a "I need to pay for this" kind of pattern. It's an actual pattern, not just something self-explanatory. (Although, your baby tights and bitty dress, while simple, seem to be rather revolutionary 🙂

  12. oh my goodness! I love those bags.
    and I don't blame you at all for selling the pattern. 🙂 love your blog.

  13. Great job on the bags! I personally love the patchwork one – love how you put that together!

    I can see offering free patterns for things that are very simple – such as things needing a basic template, ect. But I think you are 100% right for charging for your well written, professional looking patterns.

    To be honest with you, I have purchased some printed patterns for $12 plus (which will remain nameless 🙂 that were of such lesser quality than yours. So you go girl!! Shoot, charge even more if you want! We must all value our time and energy as artists 🙂


  14. Darling! Great job yet again. I'm sure if you charged for how much time was actually spent working on this project, the pattern would cost a million dollars, so thanks for keeping your work accessible (assuming said pattern won't be a million dollars). 🙂

  15. Hi Rae!

    I will be entering to win the Denyse-y bag, for sures!

    Thanks for writing about your instincts in regards to posting free patterns vs. charging for patterns… that was fascinating!!!

    And in the long run, even if you are charging for a pattern, your customers are STILL getting one heck of a deal!



  16. Beautiful bags. I don't mind at all paying for the pattern. I understand how easy it is to devalue your work, and I'm glad that you're charging for this one.

  17. don't feel bad for having to charge your pattern.i think its totally relevant :)after so much effort being put up.
    you are awesome rae.

    btw love the bags!!

  18. Beautiful bags. I really love the colors of the gray one with the orange pomp-poms. Great fabrics. Hey and your having a giveaway next week. I will definitely be back!

  19. I love the bags!! The pompom trim kills me. Maybe if I start right away and make one Bonsai Bag a day, I can get rid of all my pompom trim by the time I am…
    maybe my daughter can inherit it.

    Looking forward to the giveaways!

  20. hey rae – good thoughts on free vs. profit. don't we all love free stuff! but i totally get what you're saying about making some $, too. & for what it's worth, i think you have a nice balance 🙂
    love the bags – such a cool pattern.

  21. Yea for another bag! I just finished my lickety bag on Sunday and I love it! So light weight and the strap is the perfect length. Thanks for putting together that pattern.

  22. I'm so excited for the pattern! This is one of those things I wish I had designed, it's so darn cute!

  23. There is no need to justify charging for your work. It costs more to buy (ONE!) "super value meal" at McDonald's then a Made By Rae pattern. People throw away so much money on garbage.. don't think *twice* about charging such a small amount for patterns of great value invested with your creativity and life energy.

  24. Beautiul bags! I really like the pleats.
    I hate pricing my goods especially when a friend orders something but it must be done. 🙂

  25. Please don't feel bad for charging for patterns! We in blog land are HAPPY and EXCITED to buy GREAT patterns and can't even begin to THANK YOU for all the HARD WORK and EFFORT you put into making such fantastic stuff!! It's great to be able to have a pattern to make our stuff look like your stuff 🙂

  26. The bags are just gorgeous and I think it is absolutely right that you charge! Looking forward to the giveaway.

  27. Love them can't wait for the pattern! I never mind buying a well constructed pattern as all of yours are. Keep up the great creativity.

  28. I love the pom poms- so fun! I think it's totally fair to assign a monetary value to your work and I'm happy to pay for all the work that went into designing something 🙂

  29. I love buying patterns from fellow designer-mommas! Don't feel bad for charging for your work. I'm sure no matter how wildly successful your new patterns is, you'll still make less than minimum wage for the hours and hours you put into it! (Sounds like teaching, doesn't it?)

  30. I love all 4 bags! They are beautiful! We have a pretty tight budget, but this is one pattern I will be buying. I've already got my fabrics picked out. 🙂
    As a new sewer (sewist?) I appreciate you sharing your thought processes with us. Reading about your design and development successes (and setbacks) is helping with my confidence in my own crafts. Thank you!
    Keep up the good work!

  31. Aaack!!! I want one-I want one!!! Rae, these are yummy. I would so love a big one and use as a diaper bag. I can't wait for the pattern… and the giveaway!

    Take care!! 😉

  32. Lurve!!

    And you're right about the patterns. I think if something can be (obviously and easily) figured out just by looking at a picture…selling the pattern is kind of an insult to a consumer's intelligence. But if an item took hours, weeks or month to become a reality, and involves more than 5 or 6 steps…it's a sellable item, and no-longer "tutorial worthy." hehe

  33. I would love a bag. I would use a bag. I will be entering the drawing since I do not sew nor do I understand your lingo. 🙂 I do love you though and your blog makes me smile. You are worth it Rae. Glad you are in business.

  34. Oh, and if I felt like any of my patterns were professional enough for people to purchase, I would charge for a few. But I can't pull off the look that you do with your patterns, so free it is. Maybe one day.

    Anyway, I have no qualms with people charging for their patterns. And you offer so much free,not just your patterns: your inspiration, ideas, etc. We're good.

  35. I love these bags and don't think you should feel bad at all for charging for the pattern. It is your work, you should get paid. I know I will buy it. I will also come back for the giveaway although I can't decide on a favorite, they are all so unique. The quilt idea is great and that panel also shows off a really lovely piece of fabric. Good luck!

  36. Love this! I think you are more than ok to charge for this pattern. It's fabulous!!!! Can't wait for it to come out! I love the pleating detail on the front.

  37. I love the patterns, free, or not! I gladly pay for patterns that I want to buy- and you have great patterns, well written, excellent pictures, etc. and they are always worth it! So stop it. You deserve money for patterns. I think I would have paid even more for the BBB Pants pattern, I am so pleased with it! Plus, you're funny. I always come back for funny!

  38. I love this bag. When should the pattern be available on your blog . I hardly cannot wait….. And of course i'll be back for the giveaway. I love them all but my favorite is the brown one, just my colors.

  39. Absolutely stunning. And like nothing else I've seen lately. Found your blog via the Buttercup Bag. Using the Buttercup for Christmas gifts this year. Have no probs paying for patterns. Have bought Buttercup Pattern (even though I don't intend to sell them) in appreciation of your time, effort, inspiration and creativity. Keep up the amazing work, you rock!

  40. Such cute bags! I love that you can show off a small piece of favorite fabric with this design. Please don't apologize for charging for some patterns. The toddler backpack pattern was well worth every penny! And the Buttercup bag is the best free pattern out there, if you ask me!

  41. Organic all the way!

    I'm excited to hear that you might post about making and digitizing patterns. I'd love to learn how but don't have a clue where to start!

    I most definitely agree that you should charge for your patterns. While I thoroughly enjoy all the free tutorials out there (and enjoyed writing one myself) you absolutely have to assign value to your work and make it worth your while! Please don't feel bad about charging!

  42. What a great use for those small scraps of fabric that it is so hard to part with! I will happily buy this pattern when it comes out…I think it is so hard to ask for compensation for things we love doing and you did it with aplomb.
    Thanks for the giveaway! Have my fingers crossed!

  43. Lovely! What a nice way to show off a fabric you love, that you only have a little bit of. Huh… Didn't mean for that to rhyme, but it works. 😉

  44. Well it's just too bad that your not including Swedish residents- since this bag compliments the gorgeous pale blue sky and the fall orange and yellows creeping over the tops of trees here. Besides that, I would feel pretty special carrying this treasure.
    -Lisa Bergqvist

  45. I love the bonsai bag! Your site inspires me!! I just started my own blog and hope to eventually make it as fun & informative has yours! I originally found yours, when I was looking for a pattern for pleated pockets & your tutorial was great! Thank you. Please feel free to visit my site & don't be afraid to be candid!

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