Waxed Canvas & Leather Zipper Bag

Last year I made a waxed canvas zipper bag for my 12-year-old son’s birthday. My husband mentioned (more than a couple of times) how nice it was. I got the hint, and he got one for Christmas.

Waxed Canvas & Leather Zipper Bag | Gentlemen's Travel Case by Betz White | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

For my son’s zipper bag, I used canvas and waxed it myself using Otter Wax. For this bag, I ordered some pre-waxed canvas and a leather strap from The Confident Stitch. (This is a new-to-me fabric store. They have some great stuff and the owner is super helpful, so definitely check it out!) They have several colors and weights of waxed canvas. I chose the 6.25oz in olive green and it was exactly what I needed for this project!

I also ordered a 3/4″ leather strap. It was very nice quality and I will definitely purchase this item again for other bags in the future.

Waxed Canvas & Leather Zipper Bag | Gentlemen's Travel Case by Betz White | Radiant Home Studio

The pattern is the Gentlemen’s Travel Case from Betz White’s book Present Perfect, which is the same pattern I used for the pouch I made last year. There are lots of similar zipper pouch patterns that would work, but I really like the interior pleated pocket and the exterior pockets on this pattern. It’s a nice size, deep enough for some bigger items, but not too big. I sewed it as instructed, but substituted a metal snap in place of the hook-and-loop tape on the side pocket. I also left off the decorative trim next to the zipper.

Waxed Canvas & Leather Zipper Bag | Gentlemen's Travel Case by Betz White | Radiant Home Studio

I actually made 2 of these at the same time, one for my husband and one for his brother. I think it was faster to sew them that way. I already had the fabric, interfacing, and patterns out, so it went almost as quickly as making one. I had a yard of both the waxed canvas and the lining fabric, which was plenty for two zipper bags.

Waxed Canvas & Leather Zipper Bag | Gentlemen's Travel Case by Betz White | Radiant Home Studio

I used the waxed canvas on the entire exterior and on the lining pieces that are next to the zipper (for stability). I can’t remember if the pattern recommends interfacing the exterior pieces, but there’s no need to interface waxed canvas. It’s pretty stable and perfect for casual bags. Though I love Otter Wax for small projects, I really appreciated using the ready-made waxed canvas. It saved a lot of time and I didn’t have to worry about waiting for it to dry and cure. I can’t say I’ll never wax my own fabric again, but it’s good to have options! For bigger projects and things that are time sensitive, I will definitely be ordering again.

Waxed Canvas & Leather Zipper Bag | Gentlemen's Travel Case by Betz White | Radiant Home Studio

The Confident Stitch also has some heavier waxed canvas that would be great for bigger tote bags. I’ll be looking for a project to experiment with the heavier weight waxed canvas when I get a chance. You can click the image below to see what other fabrics and notions they carry!

Confident Stitch Notions








Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag

Remember my tote bag upgrade series from a couple of years ago? Today I have a new tote bag tutorial to share with you! This one is an indigo dyed tote with an embroidered butterfly patch.

Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag | Butterfly Pattern from I Heart Stitch Art | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

A few weeks ago, we spent the day indigo dying several yards of fabric as a family project. I also dyed a couple of plain tote bags at that time. They came out okay for a first try, but I would have greatly benefitted from the Shibori & Natural Dyeing Course that is included in the bundle. It’s basically a whole book about dyeing with indigo and natural dyes and includes 10 DIY dyeing projects. It’s normally $26, but the whole bundle with dozens of other patterns is only a couple dollars more!

I highly recommend finding some type of book, or class, or friend to help you with your first indigo dyeing experience. It isn’t hard, but experienced friends will have some helpful tips. I’ll list some other resources (including links to the plain tote bags and indigo dye kit I used) at the end of this post.

My indigo dyed tote bags ended up being a little bit plain. I decided to add an embroidered patch using the butterfly embroidery pattern from I Heart Stitch Art. I honestly how long it would take to stitch this, but it went much more quickly than I anticipated!

I always find that embroidery is easy to work on if I just get it started. I picked it up while I was nursing the baby, while I kept an eye on dinner, and other moments during the day when I tend to pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll. Stitching during those moments was much more relaxing and productive, and I finished it in only two days.

Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag | Butterfly Pattern from I Heart Stitch Art | Radiant Home Studio

I used the pearl cotton thread that was recommended in the pattern and I LOVE how it turned out. I’ve always stitched with regular embroidery floss, but I have to say the pearl cotton was much easier to work with and I think the finished piece looks much more polished. The pattern has lots of other great tips for transferring and stitching the details, so I’m happy to recommend it without reservation.

So…this is sort of an open-ended tote bag tutorial. Plain tote bags are cheap and perfect for experimenting with different craft ideas. You can try dyeing your bag with indigo or with some of the fruits and vegetables mentioned in the Shibori & Natural Dyeing Course. You can add traditional shibori patterns, experiment with your own shapes, or dye the bag a solid color. You can add a butterfly or any other embroidery pattern you like. (This grizzly bear would look so cool for a boy’s tote bag!) Or you can use one you already have.

Make an Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag:

Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag | Butterfly Pattern from I Heart Stitch Art | Radiant Home Studio


Tote Bag
Natural Dye and Supplies
8″ square natural canvas or linen fabric
Medium embroidery hoop
1 skein of pearl cotton thread
Embroidery pattern of your choice

1. Plan a few days to finish your project! You can make several at a time more efficiently.

2. Plan one session for dyeing your tote bag. Follow the instructions on your indigo dye box, the online dyeing course, or dyeing book. Let your bag dry overnight. Wash if recommended.

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

3. Transfer the embroidery pattern on to your fabric square. I prefer to hold my pattern and fabric up to the window and trace it with a pencil. Put the fabric in the embroidery hoop and stitch as directed in your pattern.

Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag | Butterfly Pattern from I Heart Stitch Art | Radiant Home Studio

4. Trim the edges of your embroidered fabric to the desired size, centering your embroidery design. Use some small strips of fusible tape on the back edges of the embroidered fabric to hold it in place on the tote bag. Hand stitch or machine stitch around the embroidered fabric to finish. Pull the loose threads around the edges to create a frayed border.

Indigo Embroidered Tote Bag | Butterfly Pattern from I Heart Stitch Art | Radiant Home Studio

Recommended Resources for this project:

Tote Bags
Indigo Dye Kit
Pearl Cotton Thread
Embroidery Needles
Embroidery Hoops

More tote bag upgrade tutorials




Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch

Today I’m joining some friends in a shibori indigo blog tour! Last weekend, we spent some time experimenting with indigo dye as a fun family project. The dye makes a gorgeous blue color, and it’s made from natural, plant-based materials. I used some of the fabric I dyed to make a shibori indigo zipper pouch to share today. Plus, I have a couple more projects to share later!

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

(Some links are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

I’ve been hoping to try indigo dyeing for several years, but never managed to gather all of the supplies. I thought it would be fun to involve the kids in my indigo dying experiment. Normally, my chemistry major husband isn’t interested in crafting, but he jumped right in to help measure water and mix the dye. Since I’m too pregnant to be carrying five-gallon buckets of water around, I was thankful for his enthusiastic participation.

We did a little bit of research before our project on the history of indigo dyeing and looked for some information on shibori dyeing techniques. This CreativeLive class on shibori dyeing was the most helpful thing we found. It wasn’t very long, but it covered all of the details we needed to know in a clear and interesting way. I definitely recommend it! We also looked up some other shibori designs and folding techniques on Pinterest.

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

The only thing the shibori class didn’t cover was mixing the dye. There are more “authentic” ways of making indigo dye, but we just ordered this quick and easy kit from Amazon. You just measure four gallons of water, dump three packets of powder in, and mix it up. My older kids could have read the directions and made it themselves. It was inexpensive and worked perfectly, so I’ll definitely be ordering it again.

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

The only thing I would do differently…I dipped each piece twice, but after everything dried and lightened up, I wished I had dipped a couple more times. My knit fabric took the dye really well and ended up with some deep navy blue streaks, but none of the other pieces got that dark.

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

We dyed two packages of cotton napkins (also from Amazon). They were great for experimenting with different folding techniques and patterns. The kids each folded three or four and eagerly waited to see how their designs would turn out. I also folded up a piece of muslin, a scrap of white bamboo knit, and some canvas tote bags. I used the muslin for the zipper pouch.

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

Zipper pouches are fast and easy. I didn’t follow a pattern for this…just cut out some rectangles, added little leather accents, and sewed it up. You can use this zipper pouch tutorial for basic construction techniques. I think these would make really cute gifts or nice craft fair products.

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

Shibori Indigo Dyed Zipper Pouch | Radiant Home Studio

If you’d like to see what some of my friends made their indigo fabric, follow along here to read their posts:



Monday 7/24

Sarah at Sewing with Sarah – Shibori Top

Stephanie at Swoodson Says – Shibori Kit Review

Tuesday 7/25

Katie at Creative Counselor – Shibori Shift Dress

Sara at Radiant Home Studio – Shibori Zipper Pouch

Wednesday 7/26

Vicky at Vicky Myers Creations – Shibori Scarf

Stephanie at Swoodson Says – Shibori Blanket

Thursday 7/27

Maryanna at Marvelous Auntie M – Shibori Bag

Ula at Lulu & Celester – Shibori Clutch

Friday 7/28

Laurel at My Heart Will Sew On – Shibori Maxi Skirt

Agy at Agy Textile Artist – Shibori with Mango Leaves

Stephanie at Swoodson Says – Shibori Curtains


Patterns, Sewing

Penfield Pocket Tote Testers

Monday, I released the Penfield Pocket Tote pattern. I’m grateful to the many testers who provided feedback on this pattern. It’s a volunteer job, and I so appreciate the time and effort these ladies put in to helping make this pattern the best it can be!

I have a few to share with you today. Each tote has a distinct personality. Hopefully their bags will inspire you to make your own Penfield Pocket Tote that reflects your personality.

The first tote was made by Carrie. She used waxed canvas for the exterior and leather for the straps. I really like that this bag is mostly neutral, with a pop of fun fabric on the pocket. The waxed canvas and leather will be extremely durable!

Penfield Pocket Tote | by Carrie | Radiant Home Studio

Margareth made this fun, but classic bag with faux leather and a vintage style fabric. The front pocket is a great place to display some of your favorite fabrics like Margareth did!

Penfield Pocket Tote | by Margareth | Radiant Home Studio

Chiaki made her tote with soft colors and linen. It’s not only beautiful, but the stitching on the straps and topstitching is perfect!

Penfield Pocket Tote | by Chiaki | Radiant Home Studio

Tammy used some bright, fun fabric paired with solid black. The vinyl accents on this tote are very classy. Tammy also tested the pattern using foam interfacing. Though it isn’t listed on the pattern instructions, foam will work well if you prefer a very structured tote.

Penfield Pocket Tote | by Tammy | Radiant Home Studio

Becki made her tote in coordinating canvas. She tested the bag without stabilizer for a more casual, slouchy look. This looks like it would be perfect for hauling groceries or library books!

Penfield Pocket Tote Testers | by Becki | Radiant Home Studio

And this floral and gingham tote was made by Colleen. I love the subtle exterior with the bright lining. The contrasting fabrics in Colleen’s lining really help to showcase the pockets.

Penfield Pocket Tote | by Colleen | Radiant Home Studio

As I said before, I’m thankful for all of their hard work! I hope their different bag styles get you thinking about what fabrics you would use and inspire you to make a Penfield Pocket Tote of your own!


Introducing the Penfield Pocket Tote

Happy Monday! I’ve been working on a new pattern, and today it is finally ready! Introducing the Penfield Pocket Tote

Penfield Pocket Tote | Radiant Home Studio

It’s an extra-large everyday tote, with lots of pockets, making it a versatile bag with room whatever you haul around.

I designed the Penfield Pocket Tote with clean, classic lines. It works for moms hauling baby gear, college-students hauling books, or even working women hauling their gear. This bag looks great in a variety of styles, whether casual or business.

Penfield Pocket Tote | Radiant Home Studio

Practical interior and exterior pockets provide plenty of space to organize your things. The snap closures and rivets add stylish, modern detail. I used waxed canvas (or you could try leather accents) for a upscale and durable tote.

The Penfield Pocket Tote pattern includes step-by-step illustrations and detailed instructions, along with supplemental photos. I’ve also included extra tips to help you achieve a professional looking finish. Each pattern piece is labeled with a letter and includes specific cutting instructions. Pattern pages are numbered and easy to assemble.

The Penfield Pocket Tote pattern contains actual pattern pieces, not just a list of rectangular measurements. The bag interior includes a divided elastic pocket, a small zipper pocket, a divided slip pocket with spaces for pens, and a magnetic snap closure. The bag exterior has two large pockets, one on the front and one on the back. The front also includes a small exterior pocket. Finished Dimensions are approx. 14.5″ x 16″ x 3.5″.

To see more details and purchase the pattern, check out the Penfield Pocket Tote in my shop!