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We all love knowing what happens “behind the scenes.” It plays into our innate curiosity, and it’s what drives all those crazy reality TV shows! There are no battling housewives here, but we do have a look at each of the four designer collections we chose for our set of shoulder sling shopping totes – one great pattern created in four very different fabric styles.

Our Shoulder Sling Shopping Tote is designed to to be a beginner-friendly project. You’ll learn how to place a pocket, sew the smoothest of curves, make darts, turn skinny ties for the matching carry case, and more.

One of our favorite “and more” techniques is fussy cutting. Although the word fussy may sound negative, in the world of sewing, fussy can be a compliment and a fussy cut is a beautiful thing. When you spot something within a fabric’s motif and decide to cut it in a way that will precisely capture a specific section for a specific purpose, that is fussy cutting. It includes when you meticulously line up a fabric’s pattern so you don’t see a seam, maintain a fabric’s print around a shape, or cut and re-sew pieces of fabric to create a “new” print. Whatever you choose to call it, using or manipulating a fabric’s print to add appeal and interest to your projects is a great skill to have in your sewing arsenal.

For our fabric totes, you can spot how we fussy cut nearly all our panels to get the best blend of color and design. On the main Fruit for Thought tote, we even fussy cut the pocket so it was an exact match to the background panel on which it sits. For more about fussy cutting, check out our full tutorial. You might also want to take a look at our step-by-step article on that pocket-match-to-a-panel technique.

Another fun thing new sewers can practice with this project is working with pattern pieces. Our Shoulder Sling Shopping Tote has a full set of patterns. S4H does a few unique things to make the digital pattern experience as easy as possible. Take a look at our article that outlines all the steps to successful pattern saving, printing and assembling.

If you’re a S4H regular, you know we take our fabric selection very seriously. And although, technically, most any project can be accomplished with any fabric, it does take mixing and matching expertise to develop four different samples in four different collections, each with its own style and flair. This is exactly what we did, and what you can do too!

You’ll enjoy the Designer Snapshots below, which talk about why we selected each of these collections.

Dianna DonFrancisco for The Blank Quilting Corp.

Carmen Miranda, hold on to your hat! Fruit for Thought is a fruit stand full of fun. Dianna DonFrancisco has applied her fine art education to an amazing variety of endeavors throughout her creative life, from dramatic mural painting to detailed children’s book illustrations. This whimsical collection for The Blank Quilting Corp. includes tossed pineapples, bananas, citrus slices, and more with all designs rendered in the bold brights one would find at a farmers’ market. In addition, there’s an incredible panel featuring two rows of six vintage fruit labels; it would be stunning used as a whole cloth quilt or cut into individual blocks. Dianna works first in gouache paint then executes her final designs in Photoshop, producing wonderful shading and depth. We really enjoyed working with her Fruit Wreaths print, using it on one front panel where we pattern-matched the pocket to the background so each beautiful wreath remains intact.

Kim Diehl for Henry Glass & Co., Inc.

Kim Diehl taught herself to quilt, and in so doing unearthed an innate talent that immediately took the fabric industry by storm. With just her third quilt, she became the winner of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine’s 1998 Pieces of the Past quilt challenge. This took her life down an unexpected path. Her new-found hobby blossomed into a full-time career, including an extensive teaching schedule based on the popularity of her Simple series of books. The Right as Rain collection includes all the “scrappiness” Kim is known for. The deep autumn tones make you feel like you’re walking through a brilliant fall forest in the rain – from chocolate brown and pumpkin to moss green and cranberry. Her petite and detailed prints fill each section of our SIY Shopping Tote with rich color and design; we especially love the mini wallpaper stripe selected for the tote’s front pocket.

Maureen Fiorellini for Studio E Fabrics

Blossom & Grow, Maureen’s first collection for Studio E Fabrics is as soft and sweet as a spring meadow. Years back, she happily traded in her commute and NYC design job to stay home in New Jersey with her husband and three growing boys; now her uplifting and adorable characters can be found on a variety of products sold worldwide. You might recognize Maureen’s signature style from popular layette and baby accessory sets on the shelves of your favorite retailer. It’s nice to see a pastel themed series that also incorporates some pops of saturated color, such as the golden yellow in Blossom & Grow. We laughed out loud to read about Maureen’s claim of suffering from “ICMT” ( I could make that), which means, when not at her desk, she can be found making or growing something she saw on Pinterest. Be sure to look for the cloth book and soft bunny toy patterns that are part of this cute collection at your favorite fabric retailer.

Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit Fabrics

Anna Maria is definitely one of S4H’s BFFs. We’ve turned to her magical fabric collections since our site’s beginnings over 13 years ago, and we’re still thrilled with each new release from her as well as her amazing curated Conservatory Craft designers. Our long time love affair makes the Love Always, AM collection particularly special because it focuses on some of Anna Maria’s own favorite florals and dramatic designs from within her vast library. There is some recoloring she’s done here and there, in order to give Love Always, AM a harmonized palette of deep, rich tones. Anna Maria’s motifs are made for fussy cutting, allowing you to showcase gorgeous giant blooms or intricate hand drawn details within each element of your project, be that quilting, garments or our own Shopping Tote + Case. Tying together all the beauty are two blenders we pulled from the coordinating FreeSpirit Seeds collection by Cori Dantini.

Don’t forget to take a look at the Shoulder Sling Shopping Tote + Fold ’n’ Store Carry Case and pick your favorite collection to make your own fabric statement.

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