A Guide to Success With Kaya Papaya Design's Patterns

Lisa Stewart beginner cutting out patterns how-to matching arrows pattern cut line patterns reading the pattern pieces success using the cut list

A few years ago I purchased a printed tote bag pattern in a fabric store. While most of the pattern was clear, I had to stop my sewing to get onto the pattern maker's website multiple times. There were no clear instructions for adding hardware, and I discovered there were errors within the pattern's measurements and instructions. These were covered in a drop-down menu of "pattern corrections" of which there were many for many of the designer's patterns! Fortunately, I had read through the pattern before making any cuts!

I realize that within the world of paper patterns, you can't put out a corrected one every time a mistake is discovered. But I had to wonder about the pattern maker's editing skills and proofreading/testing team. 

My mother tells me that she runs into issues with quilt patterns published in magazines all the time. And a few times she was almost finished with the quilt, causing a design issue or needing more fabric that was then out of stock.

Patricia and I go to great lengths to have these errors NOT happen with our patterns. Unfortunately, sometimes our testers bear the brunt of a mistake. The testing and proofreading period is the most crucial phase of pattern design. 

We have settled on a format that we continue to tweak a little here and there to optimize our patterns for all levels of bag makers. From Beginner to Advanced, we've got you covered with clear instructions, color photos, instructional tips, and a color-coded Fabric and Interfacing Cut List and Pattern Piece Labels. Every detail has been carefully thought out and tested for optimum success.

Whether you're new to our patterns, or have made one already, follow along as I go over the format and the intentions of each feature:


This is the information on the webpage where you make the pattern purchase.  We give you tons of information to make an informed decision BEFORE you purchase the pattern.:

  • First, a link to any videos so that you can test drive the assembly process if needed. 
  • Then, a little backstory and intent or use of the bag design, the skill level rating, and the standing size of the finished bag.
  • Skills that are used in making the bag in determining YOUR ability or desire to challenge yourself. 
  • All information from the pattern's MATERIALS page is included so there are no surprises as to what you'll need to source. 

Additionally, the product description lists the pattern page length, whether there are "measurement only" pages for rectangular pieces, and the permission to make the pattern in a home production setting to sell. 

Multiple pictures and angles are included for views of the finished bag in a variety of fabrics and detailing. With all of this information, you know exactly what you are purchasing. Here is information from The Janie Pouch:


Now let's break down the pattern, starting at the Title Page or pattern cover:


Here you'll find the finished dimensions, a brief description, the skill rating, and a clear color photo of how the design is intended. The skill ratings relate to our patterns only:

  • Beginner: Has sewing skills, but little to no bag making skills.
  • Confident Beginner: Has made some bags, and ready to add to their skills.
  • Intermediate: Has lots of experience, and looking for advancing their skills.
  • Advanced: The ones we mere common sewists envy.

 From The Cici Tote Bag title page:


Every pattern has page 2 with an About Section at the beginning. We think it is important to share a snippet of the design process and intention behind the pattern, and give the bag maker a little insight into the designer.

Depending on the complexity of the pattern, page 2 may continue with a Keep In Mind section. Printing Instructions will include information on:

  • the shaped pattern pieces pages
  • the rectangular pieces pages
  • whether or not there are "no" pattern pieces for large rectangular pieces. We honestly do not see the point in printing many pages with a rectangle and tape lines to make a giant piece. The bag maker is free to make their own template with our measurements that include seam allowances.

Materials will follow along with a link to our BAG MAKING STABILIZERS AND INTERFACINGS chart with equivalent products listed. Feel free to print for reference. Abbreviations used in the pattern follow the Notions and Tools. 

Seam Allowance information is provided under the abbreviations. Ours are 3/8" or 1/2". There are curves, cross over seams, boxed corners, etc. A 1/4" seam is not going to be enough for any jiggle in your seam line (this decision came from experience!). Those of you that have quilted may see this as a waste, but any seam trimmings can be saved in a bag and then used for stuffing something in the future.

All of the above information may extend over pages 2 and 3, as in The Raelyn Trio Bag. It is a 60 page pattern which includes 3 full patterns and uses pleats, so though an easy pattern, requires more explanation on these 2 pages. 

Up to this point, you may have made notes or highlighted some things. Or you may have skimmed through. We strongly encourage you NOT to ignore the last instruction on page 2 or 3:

Imagine the stress you will save yourself if you do this one thing. Make notes, highlight sections, re-read what isn't clear, email or PM Patricia for help. By reading the pattern carefully, you may answer your own question and avoid the waiting time for someone to answer!

And we mean ALL instructions, through to the last page of pattern pieces. 

(By reading through the instructions of the tote bag I was making mentioned at the beginning, I avoided several errors in cutting and sewing that would have made my project unusable!)


While we certainly aren't the only designers to have a feature such as this, ours has evolved over time. We kept adding an additional column, and depending on the pattern, there may still be slight variations. Each Cut List is unique to the pattern with some similarity in the design.

The Fabric and Interfacing Cut List may include some asterisks and other notations that are referenced either below it and/or on the following page or pages. These are very important and as you are reading the instructions before beginning, you may choose to highlight these items. 

It is color-coded to match The Pattern Piece Labels that appear before the pattern pieces pages. These are super helpful if:

  • you're a beginner
  • you're organizationally challenged (my hand is waving)
  • it's a pattern with lots of pieces, i.e. The Laila Weekender and The Duffy Bag
  • you are doing rectangle cuts so there are no pattern pieces to keep clipped
  • determining the right side of the fabric is difficult - clip the label to the right side

The Fabric and Interfacing Cut List, The Pattern Piece Labels, and the Pattern Pieces include the same information. These are:

  1. The Pattern Letter Identifier (or a "--" if none)
  2. The Name of the Pattern Piece and the measurement at it's widest points
  3. Which fabric to cut and how many
  4. Notations on any special considerations or helpful hints 

PATTERN PIECES (included here as they pair with the Cut List and Labels):

The Cutting Line is the outside edge of the pattern piece. If you trace a pattern piece, then you should cut on the inside of your tracing line. 

Cut on Fold: If your fabric should be folded, that is clearly marked. You can, of course, trace the piece on the back of your fabric mirrored if you choose not to fold. This is especially best when using vinyl that you shouldn't crease or another heavyweight fabric. Many times if a bag maker has a problem with pieces matching, it is due to folding the fabric which can add up to 1/4" to the final measurement after cutting. 



Matching Arrows: Pieces that need to be taped will have arrows to match. The points will line up with the tape area being overlapped. In the picture below, the tape line on the right will be on top of the tape line on the left. The arrows will have the overlapped line between them with the arrow points lining up.


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The pattern instructions are accompanied by clear, full color photos. All steps are included, even if a pattern is rated intermediate. Not to worry if you're a beginner seeking a challenge. The pattern will still have straps, connectors, and pocket directions clearly explained, not just "make a strap" or some such short-cut. And a more skilled bag maker may learn a new technique!


This page shows another view of the bag. The copyright information tells you all you need to know for using our patterns, the retail price, and links to the website and Facebook, along with contact information. 

Think you might need this information in the future? Print out the PDF version to keep with your KPD patterns for quick reference.  

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    Want more information on techniques used in our patterns? Check out our Learning Library of articles and a complete listing of videos for all of our patterns. 

    Whether you're a beginner or an experienced bag maker, we'd love to have you join our Facebook Pattern Group. Ask questions, give guidance and encouragement, and be sure to share your makes.

    Please feel free to comment, but be aware that Shopify doesn't offer a way for us to respond. If you have any questions, please PM through Facebook, or email us at info@kayapapayadesign.com. We'd love to hear from you!



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    • Geneva Magoon on

      Love your patterns

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