Catch & Release Project Party

Mister Domestic’s Catch & Release Project Party has been going on strong and now it’s my turn to share What I made with his new ‘Catch & Release’ fabric line! It has been an absolute joy to work with these LUSCIOUS fabrics and the wonderful designer himself. A self-professed bag maker, I envisioned a mix of both form & function as a ‘fish bowl’!

“A slice of the ocean contained in a train case”

And with a few select collection fabrics & solids I sewed up a whole school of adorable fish – all with their own personalities – to accompany this case on whatever adventures it may go on!

How it started.

At the end of May, Mathew (aka Mister Domestic) put out a call for micro influencers and who could resist a chance to work with such beautiful fabrics from an amazing creator? Not me! But it didn’t stop there as Mat was also offering a mentorship to help those makers grow, which actually resulted in the start of this blog – YIPPEE! The gorgeous mix of blue gradients & relaxing river life really called to me, so I quickly e-mailed Mat with the idea of a ‘fish bowl diorama’, including this quick sketch.

But with what turned out to be nearly 400 makers wishing for the same opportunity, it was no surprise that it took almost a month for Mathew to look at them all. He narrowed down to 30 talented makers – and I was one of them! Talk about feeling like I won a golden ticket (minus the lifetime supply of chocolate)!


The first step was figuring out the perfect fish, but I didn’t have a pattern. Inspired by adorable bonito sardines, I began drafting. After a few trial runs, I finalized a fish pattern that fit the bill.

Who could possibly resist floral sardines? No one, that’s who!
wide eyed stare, ‘eek’ closed, starry, & sleepy expressions

Off a-sewing I went! But they still needed their most expressive part: eyes. I started with a classic eye. Who else finds the blank stare oddly adorable? But after a few, I upped to 5 different eyes for more variety.

Using the Cricut Maker with HTV (heat transfer vinyl) made cutting a breeze, and before stuffing I applied each eye with a home iron. Then it was off to find a quiet corner to give the rest of these fish a bit of puffy life by hand-sewing their final seams closed.

unfinished on the left to finished on the right – just like magic!

For the very last ‘swimming’ fish, I made this sleeping cutie with a small zippered pouch for holding small treasures. With its hanging clip, it would be the star of the show!

Coming to Fruition.

Next was to somehow create the bag that I pitched to Mathew that was transparent. Yikes! I decided to just jump in, but luckily I was no stranger to working with vinyl, which helped.

the original Bree’s Box pattern shown next to my modified version

I already knew the perfect pattern to work with: Bree’s Toiletry Case by Andrie Designs. But it did take some extra planning for it to best fit my vision as a ‘fish bowl’ with a shape reminiscent of an old fashioned tackle box. First step was removing the side handles to keep from blocking the view within and instead opting for a lid handle. With a clear 1-layer window there would be nowhere to traditionally ‘turn’ the body, so bias binding was added to the list. And finally, since I wanted a floating fish, extra height was added.

Since there was such an emphasis on water, I applied Odi-coat to give some sheen, stability, and water resistance to the luxe cottons. If you haven’t used Odi-coat, it’s a process: 1 thin coat, let dry 1 hour, another thin coat, let dry overnight, press with an iron between layers of Teflon to finally smooth before use. The jar recommends 3 coats, but 2 well-done coats have worked perfectly for me.

While my coated cottons cured overnight, the clear main body became the next obstacle (err.. I mean, step). Now I really love using transparent vinyl, but needle holes are permanent, so there’s extra planning involved.

Looking back at the initial sketch, blue vinyl was planned for most of the body, but now it seemed it would be more of a distraction, so a quick change to a clear background and big blue bubbles solved the issue – and I think it turned out for the better! The vinyl applique & reverse applique techniques were used to sew the lovely vinyls together, and the addition of oil-based paint pens gave the perfect pops of color within the coral and kelp pieces.

the vinyl really transformed with just scissors, thread, & paint pens!

After sewing the loop, the vision really beings to come together! The bubbly sea life set against the ‘School of Fish ‘ fabric backdrop sets the stage. And if you look closely, you may even notice there’s actually a clear slip pocket against the back of the loop!

you can really see the ‘slice of ocean’ coming to life from this angle

The body is beautiful, but I wasn’t going to let the lid fade in the background. To compliment the clear body, the handle was made with a mix of clear and blue vinyls with a pop of yellow. But it also seemed the perfect place for beautiful details and I couldn’t leave an inch of wasted space – so I sandwiched some cut out fish between the vinyl layers. Now even from above, this train case would be a beauty!

Last but not least I took a dive into my hardware to find a pacifier (aka a pull-ring) rivet that would be the perfect mount for the star of the bag. After finishing the lid and sewing it to the body, it was ready for the final touch clipped onto the pull ring – a swimming fish! And the dangling fish can hold a small favorite tool, lippie, or token… or can be removed (though why would you want to?).

it also is a place to carry small trinkets!

Even as it illustrates a piece of sea life, it can do more than just sit pretty! Use it to carry projects, toiletries, or a bunch of lil’ stuffed fish. It has a clear slip pocket that doesn’t skew the view within and another zippered pocket in the lid for small loose items.

What a joy!

What an adventure this has been!! I am full of gratitude for being part of this journey, and I am in complete awe of the wonderful work my fellow makers have contributed (and will contribute as the party continues) to celebrate and show off Mister Domestic’s Catch & Release fabric collection through Art Gallery Fabrics!!

I hope you had a blast checking out my ‘Catch & Release’ creation. Let me know by dropping a comment!

And be sure to check out the links below to look at all the gorgeous ‘Catch & Release’ fabrics and to follow all the makers taking part in the Project Party. And if you’re not already a subscriber, do take a moment to sign up to stay in touch with future posts!

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