We've a twofer with Meet the Maker this month! Mandy Maixner of Top Drawer Crafts, was our wonderful winner for September 2020 of the Sewing Patterns by Mrs H Make of the Month competition! Mandy kindly had a little chat with us about how she started making bags, and shared some of her top tips to help with your makes!
Thank you so much for having a chat with us! We'd love to get to know the maker behind the bag better, so could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Mandy and I live in Appleton, WI. My husband and I moved there in 2005. We’ve been married for 14 years and have two 13 years old cats, Florida and Mortimer. I am on Instagram and Facebook as Top Drawer Crafts.
When did you start sewing, and what inspired you to sew bags?
I sewed my first zip pouch when I was 12. I used it throughout junior high, high school, and even college. I still have it. In high school, I sewed my own skirts and pants and even made my first quilt when I was a senior.
I didn’t really start making bags until 2013 when I made a diaper bag for a friend. Then a year later, I designed my first messenger bag for a friend to use as a laptop bag and to also carry her knitting while traveling for work. I started to get orders for that bag from other friends and family. Then I started getting requests for other style of bags from friends and family and it snowballed from there. I began designing a handful of other bags based on what my customers wanted or needed in a bag. I’ve been making bags ever since. In 2018, I started doing craft fairs and vendor shows. In November of 2019, I started my website www.topdrawercrafts.com and I continue to make custom orders as well as inventory.
What do you love about making bags?
I love when a pattern and fabric come together. The right pattern can really make the fabric shine and some fabric will tell you what to make with it. I find it magical to take a yard of fabric and turn it into a special piece of arm candy.
The Companion Carpet Bag, made by Mandy of Top Drawer Crafts!
For your gorgeous Golden Girls Companion Carpet Bag, did you have a particular creative idea? If so, what inspired you?
I had the Golden Girls fabric and made myself a bag from it. My mom wanted my bag and I decided to make her the Companion Carpet Bag. I didn’t have any premade straps (I usually make my own) and thought it would be cool to isolate each face and make them the strap ends
We thought your fabric choice was really fun, and the fussy cut faces on your carpet bag are super cool! What do you think you'll sew next?
I have some unique fabric that depicts the floor and wallpaper from the movie The Shining that is screaming to be made into a Gentleman’s Wallet.
The Buttonlock Bag, made by Mandy of Top Drawer Crafts at the Virtual Bag Retreat
That sounds really fun! We loved the Shining-themed Buttonlock Bag that you made during the Virtual Bag Retreat, so it sounds like your Wallet will be a perfect match! We get a lot of questions to our page about sewing machines, so we'd love to know what kind of sewing machine (or machines!) do you use?
I currently use a Singer Patchwork but I also have a Singer Heavy Duty though I am contemplating adding an industrial machine but not sure if I need to or not. My current machines serve me well as they are but can you ever have too many machines?
The Side Hustle, made by Mandy of Top Drawer Crafts
Good question! Aside from your sewing machine, is there a sewing tool you can't live without?
Seam Ripper. It’s every sewers best frenemy. I also rely heavily on my glue stick; it’s great for installing zippers and if you need seams to matchup you can put a dab on the spot, hit it with an iron, and then sew the seam.
We definitely agree with this! We always know where our seam ripper is! What's your top tip for other bagineers?
I have several. Measure twice and cut once. Always lay out your pattern pieces on your fabric before you cut out, especially if you have a patterned fabric; you don’t want unfortunate pattern placements. I also usually always lengthen any gusset by 2 inches; I always seem to come up short. Before sewing the lining to the exterior, make sure you have a turning hole.
The Companion Carpet Bag, made by Mandy of Top Drawer Crafts
And, if you could ask our bagineer followers anything, what would you like to know?
I’m curious how others found Mrs. H. I stumbled upon Mrs. H patterns in 2017 when I was searching for a bag pattern that resembled an old school doctor bag for part of a costume I was making. I found the pattern for the Companion Carpet Bag and loved that it had two sizes. The small size was perfect for the costume and I’ve been hooked on these patterns ever since.
Thanks, Mandy! That's really nice of you to say! We'll pop a question up in the group and see if we can find out how our other bagineers came to follow us! It's been lovely learning more about you, Mandy. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! p>
The Bowler Bag, made by Mandy of Top Drawer Crafts, made with matching fabric to her Companion Carpet Bag!
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Would you like the chance to win a PDF sewing pattern of your choice from the Swoon Patterns catalogue? Enter our Make of the Month photo competition by posting a photograph of your Mrs H make in our Facebook group, or tag us in your Instagram post with the hashtag #MrsHPhotoComp. We'll be choosing our favourite October make at the beginning of November!