FREE Pattern: Helen Tote Bag Pattern and Fabric Kit

Hello all! I’m excited about a pattern collection that I’ve been working on and I’m proud to release a FREE pattern to you. I used to kind of be known as the tote bag girl. I was a fine artist but I loved using tote bags as my canvas. I felt like my fellow craftsters out there would want to make one after seeing how cute it was, so I made some fabric kits available to make your own watercolor tote bag here, although there is limited quantity. Free sewing PDF is below.


I’ve been making tote bags for about a decade, for sale here and there, and to give as gifts. I still have a few tote bags I use that are still going strong. I made them in the beginnings of my fashion career pursuit when I moved to Los Angeles in 2005, both fabulous avant garde custom pieces as well as a standard tote bag with my signature bird appliqué on them. (This was before they had saturated every market!)

For my friend Helen’s birthday, I found this lovely bright watercolor faux suede upholstery fabric that I knew she’d love as a tote bag since she’s a graphic designer. I’d like to share this tote bag pattern with you because tote bags can take a major beating during our daily routine, so it’s nice to be able to make a bunch for yourself or as gifts. My pet peeve, actually, is seeing a really torn up bag that a professional woman is still using for work.

This bag pattern is without a lining, but you can easily put a lining in, thus eliminating the need to do a French seam. For these instructions, I’ll be showing you how to French seam the bag together. The bag should take an intermediate sewer about 30 minutes to sew together.

Access the free sewing PDF here! Trouves_The Helen Tote Bag Pattern



Down with long grocery store trips! Free pretty grocery store map download

Create your shining year Leonie Dawson

Skip to the bottom to access the free grocery store map.

So, it’s 2016! Yesterday, to help me close out 2015 and prepare for 2016, I finally printed out my colorful Create Your Shining Year workbook for business that I bought a year ago… Better late than never! They are available in print and digital versions starting at $10. I’m also reading and watching some biographies to get my 2016 game face on:

They’re all like peas in a pod! I’m also really excited about some collaborations I’m working on right now, so the excitement is helping me get out of holiday break mode!

hiking_juggling_water_canyon_california (2)
Holiday hiking and juggling and other tomfoolery

Grocery Store Shenanigans

I take food very seriously. Now that I have a husband I want to impress with my culinary skills every night, I’m finding I’m being more precise about grocery shopping and using fresh ingredients. You know what I mean ladies… as a single gal, half the week might be spent eating soup out of the saucepan while lounging on the couch and perusing Instagram… I mean reading Anna Karenina. I am, however, spending 3 times as much time at the grocery store. I literally had the thought the last time I was at the store “I could be knitting right now. I better hurry up and find this nutritional yeast.” When I came home, I had the idea to make a grocery store map to make life a lot easier! So, next time I can write my shopping list in order of how I enter the store. I actually want to make these in a bunch of different colors, but for now I chose a fun yellowy-green vintage color. Enjoy!

Free Grocery Store Organizational Map Printable download as PDF –> Grocery_store_map_organizer



Free sock pattern and my wool yarn from The Last Bookstore/ Gathered Yarn Store!

Gathered Yarn Store Los Angeles
Free sock crochet pattern
Heading into downtown Los Angeles via the train

Happy twelfth day of Christmas! It was a great first Christmas season with my new husband, creating new and celebrating old traditions. I love that Matthew and I complement each other so well with him loving research and context- He made Advent and Christmas very rich.

–Skip to the bottom to access the free sock pattern from Ravelry.–

One fun thing we did after Christmas was take our two free train tickets into LA for a fun little day trip. I had to get used to taking and relying on public transportation again which is a complete paradigm shift from having a car where you can leave water, snacks, books, and other sustenance. I’m having flashbacks to my year of missions and having to run to catch buses with my backpack and sometimes bags full of groceries.

Our first stop was Amoeba, then we had lunch at French-Mexican eatery Trois Familia in Silver Lake with The Other Helen Kim. It was a true Silver Lake/Echo Park experience where we people watched while we waited 30 minutes to get in, for a delicious but overpriced lunch with excellent service. If you don’t mind paying $30 for lunch, it’s definitely a spot to try out.

Trois Familia: galette, chilequiles, crepe, French nachos

Oh, I forgot to mention that I was taking a walk down memory lane as were walking past my old work, a couple of my old apartments, and the high school I worked with. The Other Helen Kim graciously picked us up en route to her place even though I insisted we could walk. It was probably for the best, as we were about to walk under a “tent city” bridge that made me extremely sad for our homeless and mentally ill population. I have a very sad memory years ago from driving under that bridge.

My new crocheted socks

My favorite part of the day, besides catching up with old friends, was discovering a secret yarn store inside a book store! I spent almost an hour in there reading the knitting books and touching the yarn. I didn’t really need another scarf or mittens, so I decided to make myself a $25 pair of socks I don’t need! I am fully aware how crazy it is the money and time we put into crafts, but it’s important to grow up knowing the process of the products we consume. I got two skeins of a hideous yet beautiful mustard yellow-green wool yarn that I was looking forward to knitting, but the free pattern I chose was crochet. You can get the free Vivre Au Crochet cocooning pattern here from Ravelry.

What are you crafting in the new year?

Gathered Yarn Knitting Store Los Angeles
Owner Tiffanie and me with my woolen purchase

Free printable reindeer motif easy wrapping paper for soap or other small tchotchkes


Hello and Happy Christmas Eve! I wanted to share this little soap gift bag I just made, because maybe you, like me, are still wrapping gifts!

We are about to leave to go Christmas meal grocery shopping and pick up Matthew’s gift to himself at Best Buy. We have the most amazing food lineup which includes dairy free butternut squash mac & cheeze from Oh She Glows, turkey bacon white wine skillet from Pinch of Yum, and fresh strawberry pie, which is Matthew’s favorite. We are making that tonight for Christmas Eve because we realized Christmas day is a Friday, and we don’t eat meat on Friday’s! So we are having an asian Christmas meal: vegetable pad thai and vegetarian eggrolls. My family makes the best eggrolls so I learned well. Everyone likes me when I bring eggrolls to a potluck. (Yes, that is how I make friends, if you were wondering.) We are staying put for Christmas because we’ve been galavanting all over the US lately for our wedding/honeymoon.


Well, I put together this little Christmas packaging for Trouvés’ soaps. I don’t sell these soaps online right now but am considering bringing them back. You can follow the tutorial below for how to fold a sheet of printer paper into a little Christmas package, below. I’ve also included the reindeer wrapping paper you can print out on your printer. My husband thinks they are elk because he’s the wildlife guy, but whatever.

Here it is! –> Click to download the PDFreindeer_motif

I cut 3/8″ off each side and 5/8″ off the top to package my soaps.

Free little girl’s flutter sleeve dress and top pattern

I found THE CUTEST free little girl’s dress pattern. I don’t have any kids YET but when you get to that age where your entire Facebook feed is about potty training and cleaning the house, you know you have a lot of people to make fun handmade gifts for. I’m also at that stage where I feel like I’ve experienced everything I want to experience as a single person, and I want kids, like, yesterday. I can’t wait to dress them up in colorful prints and call them Mini-Me. Right now a good second is playing with my friends’ kids. I love the story of this little 12 month old whose mama had offered her a cheese stick one time too many, apparently, and she waved her little hand at mama and said her first full sentence, “I said don’t!” Whenever I retell the story around her, she looks at me, then waves both her hands from side to side and shakes her head.



Free patterns

It’s Always Autumn‘s blog has free patterns and printables. I can just imagine some of my little cousins wearing this dress with braided hair- the flutter sleeves makes it look so precious, and I love that she made one in a chambray. This is going on my sewing to-do list!

It's Always Autumn
It’s Always Autumn

If you don’t think you can sew this, just remember:

Beautiful girl you can do hard things
Coincidentally, this digital print also available in the shop.

Free Easy Dress or Tank Top Pattern for Little Girls and Newborn, adjustable – Quick sew for beginner sewers too!

free easy dress pattern for girl newborn

Cute tiny gifted newborn outfits are such a nice gesture, but isn’t it frustrating when your newborn can only wear them for a few weeks before they’ve gotten too big for them? I just made my newborn cousin a couple of full dress-bloomer-headband outfits, and I know she’ll be able to fit into them for years.

This adjustable dress is amazing- It’s only a few steps away from taking two rectangles and just sewing them together. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s cheap, it makes for a great baby shower gift, and my favorite part is shopping for the fun fabrics. For a $10 yard of designer fabric, you’ll only pay $5 for a full dress-and-bloomer set! Or you could even upcycle daddy’s old button-down shirt to make these items.

In this tutorial there is a free pattern for an adjustable pillowcase dress from newborn to teen. In an upcoming post, I’ll share a bloomer and headband pattern.

a newborn dress that fits a toddler as a tank top. Love this eyelet fabric!
Toddler dress with stretchy fabric headband

Materials for dress:

1/2 yard light to medium weight cotton fabric, that’s it!


Pillowcase Dress Directions:

1. Make sure you utilize the width of the fabric to try to get 1 dress and 1 bloomer out of 1/2 yard of 45″ fabric. You may have to cut into the selvedge a bit.

I lay it out at the same time, then cut.

2. To make a newborn dress, cut 2 (15 by 10.5″) rectangles.

3.Cut the neck tie piece. 1 inch wide and (1.5 times the width of the dress)

4. See Figure A. Cut off 1.25″ to angle the dress.

figure a

5. See Figure B to cut the arm holes.

tip: I fold the dress in half so that I just have to cut it once.

6. Hem the sleeves at 1/4″

7. Sew the dress together at sides, either serging it or french seams.

8. Hem the dress at 1/4″

9. Sew the tie.

10. Sew the neck part of the dress just big enough for the tie to go through.

11. String the tie through.

Optional: Print your own label (I’ll show you how in an upcoming tutorial), sew it in, package it up with pretty wrapping paper and upcycled ribbon, and present it as a lovely homemade gift!

If you ended up using this pattern, share a photo or tag Trouves Home on Instagram. Happy sewing!

Free body scrub recipe and our mini-launch party!

Young Living essential oils party

I was so excited to do what I love: have new and old friends over to talk about health! Trouvés has a new website and blog up and I wanted to do a little gathering as well as an Essential Oils 101 workshop with oil “cocktails.”  I put together some cute gift bags for everyone with some of the bags containing an extra surprise gift of a homemade Trouvés candle, soap, or matchbox.

Everyone also made their own sugar scrub with essential oils – healthy rosy skin just in time for shorts and sandal season! I bought a case of the 4 oz. ball jars for this workshop – I love how small and cute they are. I love making my own beauty products because you can make it for pennies compared to purchasing at the store. Of course, I don’t make all of my own products…yet. 😉 I still love going to the beauty store and buying beauty products like I did today- I bought a nail buffer and 3-free nail polish (meaning, better for your health)- that will be my next post.

I looked at a bunch of recipes for sugar scrubs and came up with an easy one, below. Okay, I’m off to plant some spring-blooming bushes I just bought- photos to come…


Trouvés Sugar Scrub for summer skin

1/2 cup brown or white sugar

1/4 cup olive oil (or other oil)

1/4 tsp. almond or argan oil

2-4 drops essential oil (We used Young Living, so I just put 2 drops as it is potent.)

Mix well and store in a small glass jar. Use within 2-3 months.



Skinny tie tutorial and free pattern

I was looking for a free pattern online for a men’s skinny tie, and I found a great one at See Kate Sew’s blog. I adapted it by making it longer so that the tie measures 58″ long and 2.5″ wide. I also straightened out some of the lines, and made the point of the tie even.  I’m currently making a heathered tan knit skinny tie- I’ll post photos and let you know how it turns out. (update: The ponte fabric I used was way too thick. I’ll try a cotton next time.)

She also has adorable patterns for babies and accessories.  My faves are the furry little girl’s vest and the ruffled baby diaper cover bloomers! Pretty simple to make. Just print off the pattern on your printer, tape it together, and follow the easy-to-follow instructions!  May have to adapt the vest to fit me…

patterns by SeeKateSew
patterns by SeeKateSew

What Will It Bee? themed baby shower. Free printables and recipes.b

My friend Mary and I hosted a baby shower for my friends Saturday. It was intended to be a tented garden party, but since it stormed the night before, with sprinkles throughout the day, we set everything up inside. I got my inspiration for the party from Chic & Cheap Nursery, who has a lot of other fun bee ideas, but I just did what was convenient for me. One thing I wish I would’ve done differently is make more desserts. I find that at parties, the adults go for the savory items and not the sweet, but I think because the desserts looked so delectable =D they were all eaten up. We can maybe attribute it to the rule of scarcity. See recipes and free printables below.

Don't eat them all!
Don’t eat them all!


I made makeshift cake stands by putting like-colored bowl and plate together.
I made makeshift cake stands by putting like-colored bowl and plate together.

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Mini key lime tarts  but I used this crust: That’s enough crust to double the key lime tart recipes.  These were delicious and fun to eat. I served these 2 hours into it, just when they thought they had tasted everything. They were gone within minutes! The Senator came by right when they were done and grabbed one, then came back and said, “I’m just not quite sure…” and grabbed another one. He better be careful, he needs my vote.

Strawberry cupcakes: I just used Duncan Hines, with Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting, piped from a ziploc baggie with the corner cut 1/2 inch.  This is always a hit. (My secret to moist, fluffy cake? I chop up 1-2 strawberries to mix in with the cake batter.)

Buffalo Cauliflower This was delicious, but you have to make sure to use a good sauce. I made this one hour into the baby shower, so it was fun that a new, warm food was being served.

Pesto  My recipe is a bit different. I use 1 Tb. Parmesan cheese, and instead of pine nuts I used cashews. Cashews acts like a cheese which is why I didn’t use much Parm. It’s also cheaper than pine nuts. It was also only 1/2 cup basil, and the rest was kale since it is flourishing in my garden, but you can use either.

Hummus: just used whatever recipe that’s out there, didn’t put tahini in it though.

Chicken tortilla soup This was delicious.
inflate balloons w/ household products!

The caprese flatbread is a version of this   This turned out delicious. Mine is simpler:

Julia’s Caprese Flatbread


3 pieces Naan bread (bought frozen from Trader Joe’s)

3 Tb. my homemade pesto (optional)

2 Tomatoes from garden, sliced thin

Basil from my garden

Mozzarella from Trader Joe’s

Olive oil


Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pesto on naan. Put tomatoes, basil, and slices of mozzarella on top. Bake for 10 minutes. You don’t have to spread with pesto though, just drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt/pepper. Add balsamic vinegar (optional).

Free printables. Just drag to desktop, or copy to desktop. I used a 2 inch circle punch.

Free girls peasant dress sewing pattern

Just as much as I gravitate towards free anything, I like to share free anythings with people. Here is a *free!* girls downloadable peasant dress pattern for sizes 18mo. through size 6 from for beginner sewers. It is too adorable not to attempt!  I’ll be making a couple this summer for friends’ and relatives’ growing kids. I’ll probably also make the cute rosette headband she’s wearing in the photo.

Melissa Joy Manning Designer Jewelry