What’s in Your Sewing Bag? | Special Guest: Karen from Karen Lewis Textiles

Improv hand quilted project bag by Karen Lewis Textiles | What's in Your Sewing Bag Karen Lewis Textiles? | Shannon Fraser Designs #projectbag

Today’s What’s in Your Sewing Bag guest is someone you’ve no doubt come across in your quilty journey and have probably already sewn with her textiles too!

We wouldn’t get far in our sewing without textiles and fabric is honestly where my love for sewing and quilting started. So, I guess the next natural question is - do you have a favourite fabric designer? Someone who seems to come out with perfect collections time and time again?

That’s what Karen of Karen Lewis Textiles does for me! 

I love how she balances both whimsy and structure in her prints and they’re always printed on such stellar colours. Plus, have you felt her fabrics? Even her printed lines with Robert Kaufman have this textural feel to them that makes it seem like they’re hand printed. So yummy!

Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles | What's In Your Sewing Bag Karen? | Shannon Fraser Designs

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I’m not sure when I discovered Karen’s gorgeous hand printed designs, but it goes back to early in my sewing journey and I’ve been smitten with her work ever since. One of these days I will dive into her *Screen Printing at Home book, which is the first screen printing book I ever picked up!

Let’s take a look at Karen’s sewing bag goodies!

Japanese Rice Pouch made by Karen Lewis | What's in Your Sewing Bag Karen Lewis Textiles? | Shannon Fraser Designs #japanesericepouch 


Introduction – tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started on your quilting journey?

Like a lot of us I have always been a crafter, sewing and knitting from a young age, taught by my Grandma. I dipped in out of it through my teens and twenties and it really only became part of my day to day life in my late thirties when I took a career break from teaching (a permanent one so it would seem!) when my three children were little. I discovered the wonderful world of quilting and the amazing community through Flickr and was soon obsessed with everything fabric that I set up a business making and selling anything textile based. Quilting was still a side hustle at this time but thanks to the birth of and being featured in Love Patchwork & Quilting my quilting journey really took off and has never stopped since!

I love that you learned from your grandmother, Karen! What a special memory that must be for you 😊 Plus, how cool to parlay your interest in all things textile into a full fledged business – go you!

On a side note, I think it’s so fun that your quilting career really took off after being featured in LPQ magazine as they were my first foray into having my work published. I ended up using your Blueberry Park 3 fabric collection in my Double Windmill quilt and landed the cover. Wahoo! 

Zip up tray pouch filled with English Paper Piecing and hand sewing essential notions | What's In your Sewing Bag Karen Lewis Textiles? | Shannon Fraser Designs #sewingbag


What kind of sewing bag do you have? (e.g. did you make it? Buy it?)

I am quite fickle with my sewing bags and always get distracted by something new so over the years I have several different ones on the go…all handmade. They all sit on my desk which gets more cluttered by the day with acquiring and making new items! My favourite can’t live with outs are my Zip Up Tray Pouch {es}, pattern by Aneela Hoey, various Japanese Rice Pouch Bags (kits by Karen available here), pattern by Karen Stevens and my new leather handled Project Bag, pattern by me. 

I totally get the obsession! I keep collecting them too and after seeing your zip up tray I think I may just have to add one of those to my expanding options too! I’ve also been meaning to try one of Aneela Hoey’s awesome patterns 😉


What are your all-star essentials? Your tried and true must haves that you can never run out of?

Whichever bag is in use it always has the same items in it…a variety of Aurifil threads including 80wt, 50wt and 12wt wool and cotton, depending on the project; my personalised Sew Fine thread gloss; a beautiful pair of Japanese snips from Beyond Measure  and my favourite Jeanna Kimball Embroidery/Redwork needles

I haven’t tried Aurifil Thread in wool – I bet it’s yummy scrummy! I’ll need to add that to my list to try. I love my grapefruit Sew Fine thread gloss; the scent totally perks me up! I’ve had my eye on that style of Japanese snips for awhile now and always wondered if they were awesome. Totally tempting me to give them a go! And I swear by Jeanna Kimball’s straw needles for all my hand binding and EPPing but haven’t tried their embroidery needles. Definitely going to give these a go and see how they feel!

Big stitch hand quilting with a peek at the Japanese snips Karen Lewis says are her favourite sewing notion in her kit | What's in your sewing bag Karen? | Shannon Fraser Designs #handquilting


What is your favourite item in your kit? Why?

It would have to be the Japanese snips…they are so beautiful and tactile AND incredibly sharp so work like a dream. Looks and practicality…can’t beat it!

Ha! I’m all about pretty and practical!


What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your bag?

Hmm maybe a lip gloss…and a mini tube of hand cream ;-)

Twinning again, Karen! I always have lip balm in my kit and I’ve recently added hand cream too!

English Paper Piecing block in progress with spools of Aurifil Thread | What's in your sewing bag Karen Lewis Textiles? | Shannon Fraser Designs #englishpaperpiecing


When do you find yourself using your kit the most? (Travelling, on the sofa, attending sew-ins?)

Most evenings on the sofa. I always have some hand sewing on the go, whether it is needle turn appliqué, EPP projects or some hand quilting.

The sofa is my main hand quilting spot too!


What’s your favourite travel memory with your sewing bag?

That’s a tricky one as I don’t travel without my kit so I have so many fond memories of sewing on my travels, whether it is on car journeys around the UK visiting family and friends or on trips abroad in wonderful corners of the world. One thing I wont do, having learnt the hard way, is sew on a plane after forgetting to take out a larger pair of much loved Earnest Wright scissors from my sewing bag and having them confiscated at the airport.

Nooooo – I would cry! I had to Google Earnest Wright as I hadn’t heard of the brand! But that’s so sad to have had your scissors confiscated.

Big stitch hand quilting using navy Aurifil Thread | What's in your sewing bag Karen Lewis Textiles? | Shannon Fraser Designs #handquilting


Tell people where we can find you?

You can find me on Instagram at @karenlewistextiles and my website is karenlewistextiles.com

The other place you can find me is over at @threadhosueuk. The contents of my sewing bag have been put to a lot of use of late doing my needle turn appliqué blocks for our forthcoming BOM. Go check it out and join us!

Thank you so much for sharing all your gorgeous handmade sewing bags, Karen! I’ve certainly learned about several new to me sewing notions that I’m excited to try out!

Hand quilted project bag with leather handles by Karen Lewis Textiles | What's in Your Sewing Bag Karen? | Shannon Fraser Designs #projetbag


For more What’s in Your Sewing Bag fun, check out these guests:


Happy stitching!




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