How to sew a fanny pack.

fanny pack maggie whitley

I recently had the opportunity to sew a fanny pack.

Oh yes, that’s right.

And while at first I was totally disabled over how to actually sew it (I like to over-complicate the process (don’t ask me why)), I had a light-bulb moment one afternoon and realized I could take my template for a Gussy Sews pouch and modify it.

Genius :)

fanny pack maggie whitley

And guess what I discovered? It was way more fun than I thought it would be. The thought of sewing a fanny pack used to scared me, but now — when I think about actually sewing a fanny pack — I realize it was just the challenge I needed.

A simple zip closure, an adjustable belt that ties around the hip for a quirky, knotted look. And of course a Caroline-made suede tag. The finished pouch measures about 8″ x 5″. It’s so cute!

fanny pack maggie whitley

I’m still beaming over sewing this. Seeing my collection of fabric scattered across my work table, turning on my sewing machine, the challenge of sewing something for someone else just because — it was totally amazing. It filled my need to create right to the brim.

Looking at these photos I’m reminded of my favorite quote, “inspiration is all around you.”

And to that I say, amen.

How to design a handmade shop: the story behind Caroline-made.


It took me two years to make this shop happen. Does that sound a little bit crazy to you? I’ll be honest: it sounds a big bit crazy to me. Part of me thinks that two years is way too long, what was I possibly doing all this time while waiting to launch Caroline-made?

Well for one, launching a handmade shop has it’s scary moments. I mean, more often than not I’m putting a big part of who I am as an individual into the products inside my shop. When I started Gussy Sews I was very much into exactly how those products looked. And ruffles? Ruffles everywhere, please.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s the easiest to design an item to sell that I’ll use on a regular basis because it will serve me so much better. So Gussy ruffles made perfect sense. A few things have changed since then: we’ve moved twice (Minneapolis and Los Angeles), we traveled around the world to Africa, and we welcomed our firstborn into our arms.

How to design a handmade shop // Maggie Whitley Designs

With all of these exciting changes it’s only natural that what I look for in a bag or organizational pouch has changed, too. It’s not that I don’t like Gussy ruffles, it’s that the aesthetic/design of Caroline-made serves me better.

Do you own a handmade shop? How can your products serve you to be the best designer and seller of your wares?

[Read more…]

Little lessons of inspiring moments…

As I type this out I’m sitting underneath a tall tree. This tree has fresh green leaves extending from the branch, reaching up towards the sky… the seemingly endless blue sky. I love sitting here to write, it’s like a little escape from the chaos of motherhood that exists just on the other side of our front door ;) During naptime I can sometimes sneak away to our porch, and so today I do. I soak up the beauty of this tall tree and think of the other moments of beauty that often sneak by because they are petite. Petite like the tiny pink buds growing off the fresh green leaves from the tree I’m sitting under, similar to this tree (below) we see on our daily walks through the neighborhood…



Last week I finally pushed through a huge creative roadblock, one I’ve been stuck behind for months. No matter how often I tried to push through it I couldn’t; I tried over and over and over again. I felt frustrated, unsure how to get past this uncreative period, but possibly the biggest difficulty for me was feeling like I didn’t know who I was anymore. It felt so unlike me to be stuck for this long. This roadblock was the longest I’d ever experienced, and while I was trying to welcome the new woman I had become after giving birth, I was having a hard time accepting this uncreative version of me. I finally cried out to God (for real, there were tears) and a few hours later I heard Him answer me. I then sat down to sew and finally felt a sense of peace wash over me. It’s like God wanted me to go back to the basics: don’t rush it, enjoy the journey, and don’t be afraid to seek help when you’re unsure. The roadblock had moved and look what was created…


…my very first cross-body bag. (The fabric is from The Fabric Store in Los Angeles.) And do you want to know what I love the most about this story, more than the bag itself? The smile that’s on my face. You know what I’m talking about here, right?

When you finally climb out from the depths of a creative rut you emerge with glory smeared on your face. Glory be to God.

(Also noteworthy: Maxwell is missing a shoe and the peach tunic I’m wearing is really a sleep-shirt. From Target. You’re welcome.)



In my attempt to climb out of my creative rut I was committed to seeking beauty anywhere I could, and suddenly I found myself noticing the beauty that exists in the shadows. Even in the brightest of daylight there are shadows to be found. But, what I also found myself noticing is the detail of the beauty in those shadows.


This journey through motherhood has lead me down some difficult paths (mentioned above). I’ve spent months trying to figure out the new me, which has been hard because at first I didn’t think anything about me had changed. Soon enough, though, I realized everything changes once you give birth — even if you can’t physically see it. Maggie, remember the detail of the beauty in those shadows.

So in the shadow below you can see I’m wearing my baby. For 10 months I carried Maxwell in my belly, and now at 10 months old I’m still carrying him around. Love.



Two of my favorite pastimes: nail polish and cookie baking. I’ve always been a nail polish girl, but this baking thing is a new one for me.


During the quiet moments of the day, in between stirring the batter and waiting for the timer to ring, my mind is silenced. I think I heard angels singing, it was so quiet.


I said to myself:

Just stop and pull out your baking supplies. Get the flour down and the chocolate chips. Preheat the oven and  buckle the little one in his highchair. Rest your mind and allow the repetitiveness of baking clear out the cobwebs.


This heart friend. She flew to Los Angeles last week for business and we were able to sneak away for a few hours to catch up on life. And it was wonderful :)



Something else I’ve been able to capture?

Southern California sunsets…





And then there are those few random photos that are inspiring to me just by themselves.

Second day blonde curls revived by a spray bottle of water (for real)…


Purchasing new fabric for my brand new shop (squeeeeal, it’s really happening!)…


Bible reading in the morning while Max plays at my feet…


And one of the new double ruffle headbands inside the Gussy shop



I’m so so so looking forward to sharing with you my new venture. If you’d like, you can follow along on Instagram or Facebook for sneak peeks of our progress :) Well, in a nutshell that’s been my life these last couple of weeks.

Little lessons of inspiring moments. Yes, please.

“The bag.”


Last night I knew I would have a few hours all to myself, to do anything I wanted: read a book, answer work email, take a long bath, watch a movie, sew something for myself — or even go to bed early. And while my body probably wanted me to go to bed early, I decided to try one more time to sew something. For months, and I’m not exaggerating in the least, I struggled with my inner self to be able to create something. The idea has been in my head, but every time I sat down to sketch some ideas or pair fabrics (or even cut into fabric & begin to sew) I hadn’t been able to translate what I was thinking. I kept thinking if I did something different: spend more time outside, surround myself with inspiration, pray or read my Bible more, stop thinking about being creative, talk about how I was feeling — surely my creative intentions would come to me. Right?

But they didn’t.

And I was feeling so, so, so, so discouraged. For months. Discouraged!

I mean, I had flat out stopped trying to skirt around the fact that I wasn’t feeling creative when I talked to our moms on the phone. I couldn’t hide it any more, and I didn’t want to.

Zack and I had some good talks yesterday, and one of the things I remember saying was, I’m not sure how long God wants to lead us down this road of difficulty but what I do know is this: we need Jesus.

Without going into all the details, life has been difficult, and it was surely overshadowing my creative process.

So last night, with a few hours all to myself, I decided to try once more. I grabbed some fabric I had been saving and went over the pattern (that has been inside my head for months) one more time. It couldn’t hurt to cut into another fresh fold of fabric, I thought.

I was just about desperate, but not desperate enough to totally give up. I took my time sewing — and time it did take — but as I crawled into bed last night I knew there were a few pieces of “fabric guts” from the bag I finished sewing. What has once been considered trash is now sitting on my desk as a lovely reminder of what happens when you mix patience and time with Jesus.

The bag that I’ve labored over for months? The bag that made me doubt if I had even a fat quarter of creativity left in me? The bag that humbled me over thinking God could ever be done using me (or you) for His creativity?

It is sewn, and I feel so free.