Among Brenda's Quilts

Have you ever wondered where the idea for a bag design comes from? Would you like to hear the back story behind my designs? Are you interested in what others have done with a particular pattern? That’s what “Showcase” is all about!

Read the story, then enjoy the showcase at the end.

How I Was Shamed Into Making a Bag and Why I Learned Photoshop

This story starts in 2007 or so...

The Marsh Store is my local quilt shop and I used to work there on Fridays helping Shirley and Tim Bobier with the day to day tasks as well as teaching the odd class on Saturdays.

Lots of interesting people would visit the circa 1869 home and business built by Quakers Jacob and Louisa Marsh.  Many remembered it from former times as the local General Store, Post Office and Library; others knew it from its incarnation as a tea room.  Still others had visited when it was overseen by the local conservation authority, or had been upstairs around the big table for the local council meetings. Some even claimed to have seen the ghost of Jacob on the premises.  And naturally there were the quilting enthusiasts that came to shop.

One day a couple new to the area stopped in to visit.  They were Sandy Brazeau and David Heuston.  Sandy and David had moved to a farm house in the area where David was doing some market gardening and carving birds.  If you’ve seen my YouTube videos you’ll know that David has since taken up quilting.


Yoga Classes

Sandy was the person that really interested both Shirley and I on that first visit. She was starting Kundalini yoga classes at the Beechwood Church which was a few miles distant. Soon the both of us were taking Sandy’s Thursday night classes.  

Our little yoga group seemed to be rather vocal. We would all yip and complain when we felt the moves were too tough. We’d laugh at each other and little by little everyone got to know everyone else. Kundalini Yoga, like any other yoga, is performed on a yoga mat. I’d take mine in any grocery store shopping bag that came to hand as I raced out the door to class.  But one night I was called out.  “Hey Brenda, didn’t you say you design bags?” 

An improvement to typical yoga mat carrier design

I was busted, it was time to create a yoga bag pattern.  I had noticed that some of Sandy’s students had tubular shaped bags that were open at one end.  The bag closed by pulling a gathering cord.  Pushing the mat into the tube seemed difficult as the mat would not easily slide into the long bag.

My new bag, christened The Yoga Girl Bag, would be different.  You’d open the flap that stretched the length of the bag and place the mat directly into the bag.  Flipping the flap shut and tying off the closures would secure it in place.  The closures looked like the cross sections of bamboo – the perfect look for an eastern tradition. 


Cover Design For The Yoga Girl Bag

Once the bag design was completed it was time to have it photographed for the cover.  This was a bag that really required a model to pose with it.  I’d never used a model before and they are pretty scarce on the ground here in Strathroy, Ontario.  Rihanna, my go to photographer at the local photo studio offered her services to pose with the Yoga Girl bag.  She did a great job and we photographed her with a number of my bags during that photo shoot.  Unfortunately I did not realize that Rihanna had several tattoos, one on the back of her neck.
Now-a-days everybody seems to have tattoos, but this was 2008 when women were just beginning to get this controversial body art.  What would my retail customers and shops think of a tattooed model?  What would you have done?  I figured it was time to learn how to use the eraser tool and clone stamp in Photoshop.

A Yoga Bag With More Room

As time has gone on I’m finding I require a bit more padding than what a yoga mat offers. Now I carry my yoga mat, a blanket for Shavasana and a sheepskin rug. . That’s what led to the creation of the larger Yoga Fitness Bag. Because people don’t always want to bring their purses along to class I created a zippered pocket for things like ID, a cell phone and the class fee. You can also use my bag to carry a thicker Pilates mat. The Yoga Fitness Bag can be made in quilter’s cotton or using heavier cotton canvas for more durability. No batting is required when making the bag with canvas or cotton/linen blends.


Fundraiser for a friend


Recently my yoga teacher and friend Sandy got some bad news. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since starting classes in the area Sandy had gone on to help quite a few of her students become Kundalini Yoga teachers. These new teachers and the rest of Sandy’s students rallied round and organized a full day of yoga events.



There were several classes lead by the new teachers, a bake sale, a healthy lunch, silent auctions and more. During that event I was happy to have successfully auctioned off one of my Yoga Fitness Bags and later made up another for the second place holder in the silent auction.


The Photoshopped Yoga Fitness Bag


My skills at Photoshop came into play with the Yoga Fitness Bag as well. I had been asked by Hoffman California Fabrics to use the artwork for a yet to be printed fabric for my finished picture. To do this it was necessary to make a bag using gray fabric and then cut and paste jpegs of the fabric over top of the jpeg of the three dimensional gray bag. If you happen to play in Photoshop, try it sometime; it’s not that easy!






The Yoga Challenge


My husband Rob joined yoga a couple of years after I did. He carries a Yoga Fitness Bag to class now. I had invited him to join the class numerous times and he finally came along after I told him I didn’t think he’d be able to manage the exercises. There’s nothing like laying down the gauntlet to inspire!


It’s funny where life can take you, a chance meeting with Sandy lead to the Yoga Girl and Yoga Fitness bags, but more importantly it lead to a complete lifestyle change, a new group of friends and a healthy enjoyable activity I could share with my husband.



Yoga Girl Showcase



Jean made this Yoga Girl Bag for her daughter who sent her the pattern at Christmas. Jean made the bag in record time and was pleased with how easy it was to construct. It looks very serene, Jean!

Here is what Carole wrote when she sent this picture. "I just finished making my Yoga Girl Bag last night and I have to tell you that I love it! It looks so professional and expensive. The directions were very easy to follow."

Here is Cheryl with her Yoga Girl Bag. She is just on the way into her guild meeting to share it at Show & Tell. Cheryl has made 3 Yoga Girl Bags to date. This one was made of 4 different fabrics, kind of a mixed bag! Cheryl says they were easy to make as gifts.

This is Joan's Yoga Girl bag made with batiks.

This floral Yoga Girl bag is the first one I made for myself, and it's still in use.

...and one I made in a pretty yellow fabric.

My friend Shirley enjoys her Yoga Girl Bag

....a lot!!!


Yoga Fitness Bag Showcase


Pat made the Yoga Fitness Bag and will be the envy of her Yoga group. Very spiffy Pat!

This was one of the bags in the silent auction for the fundraiser.

I met Val at a retreat in Alberta. She was kind enough to send me this picture of a cute Yoga Fitness Bag with yoga frog fabric that she made at home.

I made this bird bag with fabric purchased at Ikea.


We could use more examples of the Yoga Fitness Bag! Submit your yoga bag pictures and not only will they be submitted in Show & Tell for the monthly draw, we'll add them to this showcase too.

Written by Brenda Miller — November 09, 2015


I'm Brenda, and I love designing patterns that help you create beautiful, functional bags and quilts.

These patterns are unique, well-illustrated, simple to follow, and fun to sew.

We also carry my own line of bag zippers, finished designer bags, bag hardware kits, specialty fabrics, and notions, so you're able to easily find what you need to do a superb job on all of your ABQ projects.

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