Bag Brag Tuesday Linking Party - Week Thirty One!
Bag Brag Tuesday Linking Party - Week Thirty Two!

Pattern Designer Interview - Jane Poh of Projects by Jane

Well......this brings us to the last interview for 2013! WOW....I must say I cannot believe another year has almost passed! I feel like I have skipped over half of it somewhere.....I must have been asleep! LOLL Oh well....without further babbling from me, it is over to you Jane:

Jane Poh

When did you start designing patterns?

In 2009 when I started selling my handmade bags.

What led you to this path?

I wanted to sell my bags at a designer craft market and I felt less of a fraud if I designed my own patterns.

What training do you have or are you self taught?

After I left school, I enrolled in a Dressmaking school and learnt to draft patterns and sew garments from the principal of the school. The course was quite tough as I had to draft everything from scratch, make the patterns plus sew the garment. I managed to complete the first course and the next step was to go into designing garments. Unfortunately, I felt designing garments wasn’t my thing and I stopped. I sewed on and off but it was mainly pjs, blankets and pillow cases. Years and years later, I became obsessed with making bags and I realised that everything I had learnt before at the school came in handy. I am self-taught when it comes to bag making. When I first started, I referenced online tutorials and Japanese sewing books. Once I knew the basics, I found it more challenging to figure things out on my own.

Describe your process of designing a pattern?

I usually start with who is using the bag? Where is she going? What is she carrying in her bag? I often let function dictate the look of the bag. In the past, I used newspaper to make a mock-up but over time my preferred method is to sketch out the pieces I need in my notebook. Next I think about the measurements and sizing. If the shapes are complicated, I will make the pattern on paper. Then I make a mock-up with fabric and I make adjustments from there. All my current bag patterns which I sell in my shop all started out meeting the needs of a specific kind of customer at my craft market.  I make a few to sell and I get feedback from my customers. If the bags don’t sell, I tweak the design until they do. Once the bags start selling well, the next step is to scan the pattern into the computer, take photos and write the instructions.

What do you find the hardest part about designing a pattern and bringing it to the public?

To stop checking for errors. To finally say, enough, it’s perfect. Well, it’s never perfect. Good enough. Stop. Just stop.

Which one of your patterns is your favourite and why?

My Perfect Size Reversible Lunchtime Pouch. I first made this pouch in December 2010 for my sister-in-law whose brief was something small with drawstring to hold her wallet and keys when she goes for lunch on work days. She wanted it with a square bottom. Later it became a regular item at my craft market but I changed the bottom to a round bottom as I wanted it to look like a Chinese dumpling. One day a customer asked me to teach her how to make it and I did. She sat next to me at my craft market and hand sewed the entire pouch. The idea to turn it into a sewing pattern was hatched! But I only published the pattern in mid 2011 because I was too shy and lacked confidence. I had already published several free sewing tutorials on my blog but somehow selling patterns was a different ballgame. I choked. Finally one of my blog readers took it upon herself to test and go through my pattern and she said, “Do it!” The response to this pattern was beyond my expectation. It gave me the confidence to carry on. Now I have 9 patterns.

Reversible Lunchtime Pouch by Projects by Jane

How would you describe your design style? Anything unique about your patterns?

My bags are easy to make. They are functional, casual and cool.

Jane's bags! - Projects by Jane

When you are not working on your own designs, do you like to sew other things? What and for whom?

Hahahaha. I have to keep making my stock of readymade bags for my craft market so no, I have no time to sew other things. I literally have no life when I have a craft market to prepare for.  Once in a while I give myself a break from sewing and designing and I indulge in my hobbies: beading, freestyle embroidery, crochet and tatting.  Other than the beaded items, most of the stuff I make for fun do get sold at my craft market.

Some of Jane's creations!

Which do you prefer, the design process or the actual sewing and why?

The design process is so much more challenging and fulfilling for me. I like to find solutions and tinker with shapes and sizes.

Is there something you have learnt as a designer that you would like to share with other designers or newbie designers?

Learn to sew well and invest in picking up photography skills.

When do you work on your designs?

I work on my designs whenever I get time off making my readymade bags for my craft market. That’s at most 3 months a year. Next year I will cut down on my craft market commitments to devote more time to designing.

Do you have a dedicated work area?

I have a tiny table to draft and cut on and a dedicated computer for my designing software.  If I need more space, I use the floor. I live in a very small flat so I need to share my space with my family. My sewing area is in our study and often we have to squeeze past each other. All my photography is done in the tiny balcony between 3pm to 5pm when the lightning is just perfect. My progress on my photography very much depends on whether it rains because that messes up the lighting.

Jane's Sewing Space!

Do you have a favourite fabric type you prefer to work with?

Cotton canvas and cotton drill.

Favourite Fabric Designer?

Etsuko Furuya. Her colours are so vibrant!

What advice do you have for a beginner or someone interested in learning to sew bags?

Start with an easy pattern and follow the instructions. And don’t use ugly fabric. Ugly fabric produces ugly bags.


Thanks for being a part of our Interview Series has been fun getting to know you better! Jane has kindly offered to put up ALL of her patterns in a giveaway! WOW, how awesome is that! The giveaway runs until the end of the year (Doesn't that sound like a LONG time away? LOLL) You can enter via Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can find out even more about Jane by clicking on the following links:


Well.....that brings our interview series to a close for 2013! Who knows what next year will bring! LOL I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday season! Here in Australia the kids have summer school holidays until the end of January so most likely I will have a few more grey hairs by the time that rolls past! LOLL

Happy New Year to all!