Reader Makes: Trendy Hipster Bag from my new book, Style and Swing

Delighted to come across a blog post, at Linda’s Quilt Mania, about the Trendy Hipster Bag that Linda has made from my new book, Style and Swing. Linda makes the most gorgeous samples for displaying at Katja’s Quilt Shoppe, in Kamloops, Canada. What do you think of her version and don’t you just love the fabrics she’s used?

Trendy Hipster Bag from Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for beginners and Beyond. Made by lindasquiltmania

Here it is on display at Katja’s Quilt Shoppe, where you can buy these gorgeous fabrics and a copy of Style and Swing!

Trendy Hipster Bag from Style and Swing made by lindasquiltmania

If you’d like to have a go at making this or other bags from my book, it’s available through most good book stores and from Amazon, worldwide. You can also get it direct from the publishers, Martingale’s / That Patchwork Place or order a signed copy from SusieDDesigns. Here’s my Trendy Hipster Bag, which I made using fabrics from the Comma collection by Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics.

Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond - Project 5


Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond

Hooray! My new book is (at long last) being released next week! 14th April 2015 in the USA, through the Martingale & Co. website and 21st April through I’ll also have signed copies available through my own UK website from 14th April, ahead of the later UK release. So, if you’re in the UK, head on over to Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond by Susan Dunlop Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond If you’re a new-comer to sewing, or you’re more experienced but haven’t made bags before, Style and Swing will walk you through the steps and techniques you’ll need to know. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked on bag-making and you’ll be able to stitch up the best bags ever!

The patterns progress from really easy through to more challenging designs, building up slowly with each pattern so that your confidence can grow as you learn. style and swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond - some of the projectsA comprehensive information section is included at the beginning of the book which includes everything you need to know about sewing terms, tools required, fabric preparation, stabilizers and how-to techniques. So even beginners will feel confident in tackling all the fun-to-make projects included in Style and Swing. The detailed illustrations throughout each project show clearly how to complete each step so there’s no guess work involved.

Beginners will benefit from starting off with the Funky Handbag which gently introduces you into the world of bag-making. The Large Market Bag and the Uptown Shopper are sure to be a hit. They are both fairly easy to make and look absolutely stunning in bright, vibrant fabrics.

If you’re an experienced sewer, jump right in and tackle whatever project takes your fancy. If you get stuck at all, simply refer to the techniques section to learn how to complete a particular task. Get adventurous and adapt or customize your bags to suit your needs. Have a go at projects such as the Trendy Hipster Bag, the Groovy Satchel, the Layered Satchel or the Tri-Fold Wallet. Any of these projects will offer the challenge you’re looking for and you’ll end up with a finished accessory to be really proud of.

Any of the projects included in Style and Swing will make perfect gifts for friends and family, or indulge in some selfish-sewing and just keep them for yourself. You’re bound to find it hard to part with your handmade masterpieces!

Images from Style and Swing by Susan Dunlop, Martingale, 2015; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.

Projects from my new Bag Making Book: Style and Swing

Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond by Susan Dunlop

I can finally reveal the bag making projects from my new book, Style and Swing: 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond. I’m so thrilled that it’s release is just a few more months away! So exciting! I hope you like the designs and would love to hear what you think. So here they are…

This is the over-view for my new book, over on the Martingale & Co. Publishers website:

You’ll find plenty of reasons to sit down and sew these boutique-quality yet achievable bags and accessories. Everyone from beginners to experts can create an assortment of modern, practical projects for gifts or personal use. Start with a simple, elegant handbag and progress to more challenging designs; skill-level ratings are included.

  • Step-by-step illustrated patterns for 12 attractive projects in a variety of shapes and styles

  • Stylish accessories include a pleated clutch, market bag, satchel, and wallet

  • Includes resource info and comprehensive how-to techniques; learn about tools, fabric prep, interfacings, linings, and purse hardware

If you’d like to pre-order my new book (big hugs if you do and thank you so much for your support!) it’s available at and, and other major book suppliers. I’ll also have signed copies available from my website, from mid-march at

Images from Style and Swing by Susan Dunlop, Martingale, 2015; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.

My New Book! Style and Swing – 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond

I’m so excited to announce that my new book, Style and Swing, is available to pre-order on Amazon! As some of you will know, this has been a long awaited personal achievement for me and it’s been so hard not being able to say much about it so far. So, at long last, I can reveal my new book!

Style and Swing - 12 Structured Handbags for Beginners and Beyond by Susan Dunlop

”Discover patterns for boutique-quality, yet achievable bags and accessories, including a pleated clutch, market bag, satchel and wallet. Find how-to techniques and resources for materials.”

It’s still got a little while to go until the USA release date, which is 3rd March 2015, so I was pleasantly surprised (jumping around, ecstatic!!) when I saw it was up on Amazon. I’d received my copy of Martingale & Co’s (my publishers) wholesale catalogue through the post yesterday and there was a full-page showing off my new book. That in itself was really exciting! Just on the off-chance, I thought I’d do the vain thing and put my name into the search bar of Amazon (I’m sure I’m not the only new author that’s done that though) and there it was! I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it was to see it there. It has taken such a long time to get to this stage, now it feels real at last.

I hope you like the title (my lovely publishers came up with it!) and I hope you like the cover design too. I will be revealing a little bit more about the actual projects in due course. Watch this space!

If you’d like to pre-order Style and Swing, visit or

Susie x

New Sewing Book Update

So exciting, received a very important parcel last week! The page proofs for my new upcoming book with Martingale & Co. publishers! This is the first time I’ve seen any of the photography for the book – the publishers being in USA and me here in the UK, I’ve been kind of in the dark about things like that. I’ve also seen the finalised front cover and agreed on the book title. At last it’s all coming together. I’m so eager to tell you all about it and show you the projects but I’m not allowed to yet. Not too long now though, until I can make the big reveal. So looking forward to that! For the sake of imagery, here’s a sneak peak of the parcel contents…

SAMSUNG CSCI now have to go through it all with a very fine toothed comb (as they say!) and pick up any errors and note any changes to be made. It’s quite weird reading back all my words from like well over a year ago and seeing all these fantastic images of my projects. I’ll keep you posted over the next few months, it’s due to be available in the shops early 2015.

Craft a Creative Business by Fiona Pullen – New Book Coming Soon…

I’m so pleased to bring some news about a new craft business book which is due to hit the shops at the end of September 2014. This eagerly anticipated book is called Craft a Creative Business – Making & Marketing a Successful Creative Business, written by Fiona Pullen of The Sewing Directory website. It’s available to pre-order now from Search Press.

Craft a Creative Business by Fiona Pullen

Craft a Creative Business is intended to be a one stop book, that covers all you need to know about getting your business up and running. Even if you’ve already started your business, I think this book will still prove to be a valuable asset. Fiona is a minefield of information when it comes to everything crafts, business, legal matters, marketing and social media. I know I’ll be first in line for a copy and I’m confident that I’ll learn a lot from this book, even though I’ve been in business for a few years now. ‘Never stop learning’, is a favourite motto of mine.

Fiona PullenFiona Pullen is the successful craft business owner of The Sewing Directory, the popular and successful site for finding local and online sewing suppliers, sewing courses and sewing groups. This site includes projects, interviews, how to guides, reviews and fortnightly competitions, aiming to offer something for everyone. Fiona also writes articles for numerous craft and sewing magazines and has a passionate interest in social media, helping others achieve their aims and goals

Fiona’s new book explains how to turn a pastime, skill and talent into a fulfilling and rewarding commercial success. This book is billed to be a complete must-read guide for anyone wanting to turn their hobby, craft or art skills into a successful business.

Fiona gives simple advice on the importance of identifying markets, focusing on a USP, assessing the competition, making sure the price is right and setting goals. The book includes sections on product photography, branding and legal matters. There is a particular emphasis on online selling, with detailed information on markets, blogging, using social media and the importance of analytics and SEO (search engine optimisation). Information on offline selling is included too, with notes on selling at craft fairs, trade fairs and markets, selling through retail outlets, running courses and workshops, and featuring work in the media.

There are expert tips from well known people within the industry, as well as activities to get you applying what you learn to your business – making it relevant to you. By working your way through the book, by the time you reach the end, you’ll have done all your market research and have a detailed business plan to get you going, plus active social media accounts to help you promote your business.

Craft a Creative Business covers:

– Planning and market research
– Legislation and accounts
– Branding and photography
– Social media and blogging
– Selling online (including SEO)
– Selling offline (at craft fairs, through shops and offline promotion such as in magazines)

Craft a Creative Business by Fiona PullenPre-order your copy of Craft a Creative Business from Search Press

New Sewing Book in the Making…

Things have been a bit quiet around here for a wee while… why? Well, I’ve been busy going through my edited book manuscript which I received back in the post from Martingale’s, last week. I’d sent off the completed manuscript and all the finished projects quite a while back (December, so not that long ago but it’s felt like forever!) and have been patiently waiting for the editing team to go through it all with a fine tooth comb.

So, I eagerly (nervously) took the VIP (very important parcel) from the delivery man, asking “has that come from America?”, “‘Sure has!” he answered.  I was so apprehensive! The last few months have felt so long and extremely frustrating. I’d obsessively worked on my book (and making all the projects) for several months last year and when I sent it all away, just before Christmas, I felt a bit out of sorts for a while as I was suddenly not doing any work on it anymore. Luckily I’ve had so many other things to keep me busy in the process – designing and making new sewing patterns for my Etsy shop and writing for Sewing World magazine, oh and of course the kids keep me busy!!!

I sort of knew what to expect when I got the edits back as the editing team had got me to do a sample chapter for editing right at the start. But still, I wasn’t sure exactly what the outcome would be for the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised that there weren’t too many corrections needing done, it was more a case of just reading through the whole thing and going through all of the illustrations – answering any queries the editors had or approving any changes/corrections they had made. I must say what a fantastic job they’ve done.

As yet, I have no idea what the finished book will look like. There will be loads of stuff going on in the background, photography, design layout, etc, etc, that I know nothing about so far. I’m scheduled to receive proper page proofs in the Summer, so I think that’s when I’ll get my first glimpse of how it’s all going to look. That will be really exciting and it might even sink in then, the fact that I’m going to have a book out there with my name on it! I’m really looking forward to seeing the photography of all my new project designs, that will be awesome.

My new book is scheduled for publication January 2015, so I’m hoping to be able to bring you more detailed info/images during the summer. Not long now! Watch this space!

To make up for not having any images to show you yet, thought you might like to see some of the latest new books on offer from Martingale’s.

Sweet and Simple Sewing - Quilts and Sewing Projects to Give - or Keep By Carrie Jung, Jessi Jung, Lauren Jung

Sweet and Simple Sewing – Quilts and Sewing Projects to Give – or Keep
By Carrie Jung, Jessi Jung, Lauren Jung

Sew Practical - 13 Fun-to-Sew Designs for You and Your Home

Sew Practical – 13 Fun-to-Sew Designs for You and Your Home

Uncommonly Corduroy - Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns, and More By Stephanie Dunphy

Uncommonly Corduroy – Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns, and More
By Stephanie Dunphy

That’s Everything off to the Publishers!

Phew! It is done! That’s everything off to the publishers for my new craft book. The finished projects were shipped a few weeks ago and today I’ve sent off the completed manuscript and illustrations. Oh, and my author’s photo. I’ve been quite happily hiding behind the PC all these months, apart from the odd not very good photo which I put on hard to find pages! I can be a bit shy and never seem to have any decent photos of myself. However, I needed to get a professional pic of myself for the book. This was the bit I was dreading but I was pleasantly surprised at just how much fun it was doing a ‘photo shoot’. I’ve got a few different shots of me and my bags, which I’ll let you see when the photographer sends them on to me. For now though, here’s what will be my ‘author’s photo’…

Susan Dunlop of SusieDDesigns

So, this is me with a few of my bags which have been featured in Sewing World magazine.

I have Michael Graham, of The Studio – Penicuik, to thank for doing the fantastic photography for me, thanks Michael. I’m looking forward to showing off the rest of the photos. I’ll also be getting Michael to do all the new product shots of my bags and accessories, especially for the new printed patterns range I’ll be launching early next year. Watch this space!

Sorting Through Mountains of Fabric and Lovin’ it!

I’ve spent the last few days sorting through lots of amazing fabrics, trying to choose which to use for my new book projects. I was so excited to receive some complimentary bundles from Moda Fabrics, Robert Kaufman Fabrics and Michael Miller Fabrics, especially for using in the book. Gosh, the things writing a craft book can do for you!

Sierra Fabric Collection from Robert Kaufman

Sierra collection by Bren Talavera from Robert Kaufman Fabrics

I was also very fortunate to receive some interfacings/interlinings/fleeces from Vilene and Pellon. Vilene I already use and love, it’s widely available here in the UK, but Pellon I’d never tried before and so I was keen to try out their equivalents to Vilene so that I could confidently recommend both options in the book. I’m enjoy the opportunity of trying them out and finding them to be really good so will definitely be able to recommend them. Pellon, very kindly, also sent me a complete list of all their products which shows which Vilene products are comparable to them. So I’ll maybe see if I can do a post sometime about the Vilene / Pellon equivalents. I found it extremely helpful so I’m hoping you might too.

Well, I’ve been like a kid in a sweet shop as I’m sure you can imagine. Isn’t it just the greatest thing in the world to be surrounded in gorgeous fabrics? I know all the designs I’m doing for the book so it’s just a case of matching them to the perfect fabric combinations. Boy, is it hard though as I love so many and I also want to use some of my own fabric stash too! I think I’ll need to make a couple of each project in different fabric designs to help me choose. Despite that, some are really easy to choose as the fabric just jumps out as being perfect for ‘that’ design.

Wishes by Sweetwater for Moda Fabrics

Wishes by Sweetwater for Moda Fabrics

How do you choose your fabrics? Do you choose the project first and then choose fabric for it, or do you pick the fabric first and then find a suitable project. I must admit that most of the time I choose and buy fabric first and then match it to a project. I love to browse and if a particular fabric jumps out and catches my eye, then that’s the one I choose. I know this can lead to buying more fabric than you need, but I’m a self-confessed fabric-aholic and can’t resist and I know I’ll use ‘the chosen’ ones at some point! 😉

Hope you like the little sneak previews of the fabrics above, they are very strong contenders for the book. We shall see…

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The Journey from Craft Book Proposal to Publishing Contract

As promised, a little insight into what I did to secure my first craft book publishing deal.

What led me to writing a craft book?

Well, I think it was always the long term ‘dream’ goal. I’m sure most crafting enthusiasts feel that they have a book inside them. I’ve definitely felt like that for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed making things from my own ideas and (after many, many years) I decided that it would be great to pass on these ideas to inspire others. Creating individual sewing projects was the first step I took. I didn’t have a clue how my projects would be received but very soon after the first few orders started trickling in, things began to pick up quite rapidly thereafter.

My next step up the ladder was when I discovered Sewing World magazine’s call for new contributors. I had no idea if I was up to the job but I just went for it, sent in a few images, they liked my work and so began the opportunity I’d wanted so much; my projects in print, in a magazine! As most of you already know, I now have a project in the magazine most months but I can’t sit back on my laurels though. I have to keep firing fresh ideas at the editor to ensure I keep up the memento. Which reminds me, I must get more ideas together for next year! You have to plan so far ahead.

Once I’d contributed a few projects to the magazine, my confidence improved to the point where I felt ready to get a book idea together. Pie in the sky, my conscience kept whispering to me but thankfully I never listen to it! I’m a great believer in, ”You’ve got to give it a go. You might get a ‘no’ but you’ll never get a ‘yes’ unless you try.”

The craft book proposal:

I did some research into what works well in a craft book, what people like and don’t like – Amazon is a great resource for this with all it’s book reviews. I then did a bit of research into craft book publishers and picked a couple that I liked – their current range of books, background history, customer reviews, etc. Very helpfully, some of them have a section on their website with detailed instructions on what they’d like a proposal to include. The publishers I looked at asked for:

Brief details about yourself – interests, hobbies, any published works, current occupation, anything that you do that is relevant/qualifies you to write a book.

Brief outline of what the book is about – couple of sentences.

Detailed description of the book – a few paragraphs.

Table of contents.

Proposed projects – images of completed ones or sketches of projects not made yet.

Three most important concepts or ideas for the book. (unique selling points)

What inspired the book idea?

What skill level/s and intended audience is the book aimed at?

Why will this book sell?

What current books are the strongest competitors to this book?

What makes this book different?

What can you do to help market the book – social media, blog, magazine interviews, personal appearances, etc.

Even though I could have sent sketches, I decided to make actual project examples so that I could send images of finished items. I wanted the projects to really catch the editor’s eye and I felt that sketches just wouldn’t do it. As well as coming up with appealing designs, I used my trademark choice of bright, vibrant fabrics for added impact.

Submitting the proposal:

The publishers I looked at were quite happy for everything to be sent by email to the acquisition editor, so that’s what I did. I sent the files I’d prepared to 3 different publishers. Two in the USA (because my Etsy shop has a great following there) and one here in the UK. I informed each one that I’d be sending the proposal to other publishers as they need to know this.

I felt quite lucky to hear back from both USA ones within days of submitting everything. They initially liked what I’d sent (whoohoo!) and would take it to the proposal meetings in another month’s time. I didn’t hear anything from the UK one (turned out everything had went to spam) and I eventually heard back from them months later to say they had liked my ideas/projects but as they were a small publishers they couldn’t accept everything they liked and so had to decline. Maybe that was just their way of gently letting me down but I’m sure glad I didn’t get that email at the start as I’d probably have just given up right then!

The waiting game:

If you’re impatient like me, be warned there’s a lot of hanging about waiting for all the proposal stages to go through. If your ideas and projects meet the approval of the acquisitions editor (the first point of contact), he/she then presents everything at a proposal meeting. If your ideas get approval at that stage they have to then go through costings, sales forecasts etc. What a roller coaster of emotions that was and it took months!

Getting an offer:

I was so excited to get offers from both USA publishers for my book! Gosh, my family were so proud. I’d kept it a secret from them, until I knew the offers were coming, as I couldn’t bare having to tell them if I hadn’t got anywhere. Hubby knew though and was supportive and encouraging but, I think, was desperately worried during all the waiting in case things went pear-shaped. He knew how much I wanted this and how much work I’d put in to it! So, he was there to catch me if I fell!

So, there I was, now having to make a decision on which publisher to work with!! (I know, I know, poor me!) I hadn’t expected that though and it was so difficult. I went with my gut instinct in the end and chose the one that was going to stay closest to my original proposal ideas.

I’m now looking forward to working with Martingale & Co. based in Bothell, USA. It feels strange to be working with a company so far away but thank goodness for email.

Now begins all the hard work (but hopefully enjoyable), the typing up of all the project instructions, the making of the actual projects and lots of draft step-by-step illustrations.

My single biggest lesson in all this? Don’t be scared of presenting your ideas to publishers. I’ve found the editors I’ve dealt with so far have been extremely approachable, friendly, helpful and altogether lovely people.

p.s. I’m just a completely ordinary ‘work at home’ mum of four who loves to sew, loves to share designs and loves to write all about it. I really hope this little story might help to inspire others.

I have a Craft Book Publishing Deal!

I’m so excited to let you into a little secret I’ve been keeping under wraps. As you’ll have seen from the title of this post, I have recently signed on the dotted line to write my first craft book with American publishers Martingale & Co. (That Patchwork Place).

martingale and co publishers logo

I was extremely lucky to have received offers from two different publishers (gosh, that was just the most amazing thing!) So after much decision making, I chose Martingale. Phew! It’s been a mad year so far. I sent out the proposals way back at the beginning of the year, not realising just how long it takes to go through the acceptance process. Now, I can finally get on with the sewing and the writing of all the projects and have just sent off my first chapter for editing.

My book is still along way off from hitting the shops, it takes a year or so to go through all the writing, editing, designing and publishing stages. So we’re looking at end 2014 / beginning 2015 – seems a long way off but I’m sure it’ll come around quick enough. Over the next few months I’ll keep you up to date with how the writing and planning is going, giving you a little insight into the craft book publishing process. I can’t wait to start talking about the book itself and what it will contain, but I’m afraid I have to keep this under wraps for now. So while I can’t show any images about my book at the moment, I thought you might like to see some of Martingale’s other books.

Sew The Perfect GiftSew the Perfect Gift: 24 Handmade Projects from Top Designers (That Patchwork Place)

51qZpZngMeL._Everyday Handmade: 22 Practical Projects for the Modern Sewist (That Patchwork Place)

Stitched for FunStitched for Fun: 35 Easy and Adorable Embroidery Projects

Make it Sew ModernMake it Sew Modern: Gather, Twist, Pleat, Texture