Kelly Bowser Made Me Something I Have Used Every Day For Four Years.

Welcome to my hotel room photo shoot. Yes, I am wearing pink pajamas. Photo: Who else?
Welcome to my hotel room photo shoot. That’s the pouch Kelly made me and yes, I am wearing pink pajamas. Photo: Marty Fans.


Greetings from Lincoln, Nebraska, where it feels like Christmas Eve.

This is because the annual two-day board meeting for the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM) begins tomorrow morning. Since I’m a board member, I get to go. That’s how board meetings work, I have learned and yes I do feel fancy but mostly I just feel geeky and happy. Jonathan Holstein is here. The only person I’d be more excited about meeting and working with would be Barbara Brackman. After that, probably Madonna.

The only drawback to being here is that I couldn’t stay in St. Louis, which is where I was yesterday. I had to leave Common Threads, a very cool, annual BabyLock event, which — of course! — landed the same weekend as my board meeting. Common Threads is an invitational meetup/think tank kind of a thing for quilters and sewists who work with BabyLock out there in the industry. There were around 55 people at the weekend retreat, some of whom I had never met, some of whom I consider good friends, e.g., Jenny Doan, Vanessa Vargas Wilson, Amy Ellis, and many other terrific, talented women.

Like Kelly Bowser.

Before I tell you why Kelly deserves special distinction, know that Kelly did not ask me to write this, nor am I benefitting in any way from singing her praises and talking about how much I love the thing she designed and how I have used it every single day for four years.

So, Kelly and I met at the first-ever Common Threads four years ago. I liked her immediately: She was funny and smart and warm. Kelly’s a talented designer, a so-good-it’s-annoying sewist, quiltmaker, blogger, and pattern writer, and she’s a mom, wife, and she has a law degree. We got to know each other and became industry pals.

That night, when I dug into the swag bag in my hotel room, I discovered the coolest little handmade cloth pouch! It was kinda puffy and had a zipper and everything. The tag said: “Kelby Sews”, which is Kelly’s brand. I learned that Kelly had designed and made everyone in the group that year (40 people??) their very own pouch, which she calls the “30-Minute Pouch”. (I understand you can download the pattern for free on Craftsy, so check that out.)

I just loved my little pouch. I began using it immediately. It is the perfect size for my lipstick, compact, eyedrops, tiny mascara, and aspirin thingy. That pouch has been in my possesion for four years. It has traveled tens of thousands of miles with me. It’s been in fabulous purses, let me tell you. It went to New York. It went to Washington. It came back to Chicago. It went to Berlin. It’s gone on so many dates. It’s been with me on family vacation. It was at my sister’s wedding.

I’m telling you: Kelly’s 30-Minute Pouch is seriously part of my life. In material objects, anyway.

There’s a lot to love about Common Threads. But my favorite part? Finding Kelly Bowser and rummaging around in my purse to get my lil’ pouch so that I can hold it up and go, “Kelly! Kelly, look!” Last night, a bunch of us girls had a great conversation about the power of the handmade object. You never know where the things you make will end up. It’s wonderful. Not everything that comes in a gift bag stays so long, you know?

And it pays to take care of something: Kelly was delighted to see I’m still devoted to my pouch, but she made me write down my address so she could send me a new one. I’ll allow it. But I’m not tossing the original. She made it for me!

14 Responses

  1. Shannan Sabby
    | Reply

    Gotta love a good zipper pouch!!

  2. Kelly
    | Reply

    Ok, I have to admit, I kind of teared up when I read this. It’s such a full circle moment for me–from learning how to quilt from watching you and your mom on TV to having you write about an item I made for you. All the feels! xoxo Kelly

  3. tisha @ quiltytherapy
    | Reply

    I’m intrigued to hear more about the power of a handmade object conversation. Will you share in another post?

  4. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Isn’t it just amazing how a little PRACTICAL thing just makes us feel like a million bucks!

  5. Pamela Keown
    | Reply

    I always wished I could be at two places at the same time, you need that superpower this weekend. And I wish you had a link to Kelly’s Craftsy pattern.

  6. Pamela Keown
    | Reply

    Yea! I found your link in the comments. Thank you Mary.

  7. Carmen
    | Reply

    I’ve been following Kelly on IG for a while now and she does indeed make amazing things! Love your pouch!

  8. Mary Kay
    | Reply

    Love your posts. You make me smile:)

  9. Colleen
    | Reply

    I love making handmade things for people. It’s hard sometimes when no makers don’t always get it. The best thing ever was a Tula pink bed pillow case I made my sister. I love taking the beautiful medium scale prints and making pillow cases . My hey are so lucky. So how happy was I when my sister is in hospital getting ready to have my sweet niece and what pillow does she have through labor and delivery? My beautiful TP chipper one I had made her!!!

  10. Denise in PA
    | Reply

    I’m a gonna go download that pattern right now! I want a 30-minute zipper pouch – how cool! I love following Kelly on IG, etc!

  11. Barbara
    | Reply

    Gonna make ONE!

  12. Andrea
    | Reply

    It’s so nice when someone appreciates what you made for them! I have both my favorite recipient and least favorite recipient of quilts I’ve made. My favorite – I still see pics (on Facebook) of a quilt I gave them for their wedding almost 20 years ago, hanging in their living room. And my least favorite – “oh, that’s nice, my mom makes these too” – with obvious disinterest. I’m more aware of who I make things for vs who gets a gift card to Starbucks 🙂

  13. Betty
    | Reply

    Who is this Marty Fans who is doing your photos now? 🙂

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