A Guide to Success With Kaya Papaya Design's Patterns

Lisa Stewart how-to patterns success

Beautiful teal vinyl, a Beginner pattern, and decades of sewing everything. It was my first structured, vinyl bag.

A well-written pattern that the testers loved, and I helped edit. A walk-in the park, a piece of cake, but a total failure. More about this later. 

You put a lot of time and money into your bag, and the last thing you want is to foul it up due to the pattern. Take a look at the particulars of Kaya Papaya Design's format, all geared towards success:

First, the product description. We give you tons of information to make an informed decision BEFORE you purchase the pattern. Additionally, we link to any videos so that you can test drive the bag assembly process. 

Next, let's walk through the pattern layout.

The title page gives you dimensions, a brief description, the skill rating, and a clear color photo of how the design is intended. The 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.

The Materials, Tools, and Notions will be on Page 2, along with abbreviations used, seam allowances, and, if space allows, the printing instructions. Within the Interfacing section, there is a link to our BAG MAKING STABILIZERS AND INTERFACINGS chart with equivalent products listed. Feel free to print for reference.

The most important thing on Page 2 is this:

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. 

A note about seam allowances. 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!). 

And for linings - the SA will increase by a 1/4" in order to fit snugly. And then we'll trim it to 1/4". (Lots of people save their trimmed scraps for stuffing things).

Page 3 may begin with Printing Instructions. These are "in general" as we can't begin to troubleshoot every printer. Key word here is: "Tester Square".

If you have trouble printing, email us or PM Patricia or post on the Facebook Pattern Group. You'll be amazed how quickly you'll get help on the group. You may not need to print everything, so - 

We don't own stock in any paper, ink or printer companies, so we'll let you know if there are rectangular pieces that don't necessarily need printing. And sometimes there aren't pattern pieces at all for the rectangular pieces, especially if the size of the piece would take several pieces of paper. 

The Fabric and Interfacing Cut List is next. 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

The Cut List may include some asterisks and other notations that are referenced either below The Cut List and/or on Page 4. These are very important and as you are reading the instructions before beginning, you may choose to highlight these items. 

All provided pattern pieces are labeled with the identify letter and the measurements, which relate back to The Cut List. Note that all measurements are to the outside edge of the heavy black line.

Additionally, all notations for fabric, interfacing, etc. are noted on the pattern pieces. 

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.

Pieces that need to be taped will have arrows to match. The points will line up with the tape area being overlapped.


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!

And if you're sewing from home and selling your bags, feel free to use our pattern. Just give us credit!

The one thing a Kaya Papaya Design pattern cannot give you is experience. And this is why I failed in my first attempt.

  • I had never sewn vinyl, much less several layers of it.
  • The variety of interfacings were new to me and I rushed the application process. 
  • I didn't use the correct needle or setting on my machine.
  • I should've looked up the necessary information and viewed some tutorials before diving in. 
  • Using some "less precious" fabric for my first bag would've eased my disappointment. 

Want more success than I had with my first bag making attempt? 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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