• Welcome to Ashbdesign, home to an assortment of handmade bits and bobs with a whimsical and modern flare. Here you can find anything from tote bags and personalized luggage sets to quirky pillows. You can even commission a fresh style of calligraphy.
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  • Fabric hunting is like a scavenger hunt!

    My name is AshB and I am a fabri-holic. Admitting is the first step right? One of my favorite parts of sewing is the hunt for the perfect selection of fabric combinations. My bags often tout at least three and sometimes four different fabrics. I love to see the bags finished but getting to that point is a journey and sometimes its arduous- but I absolutely love every second of it. 

    People often comment on my fabric selections so I thought I would take a moment and give a little insight into how I get

    from here….

    to here…

    The last few days have been a whirlwind of shopping for fabrics. It began when we were still in Ruston, LA. I stumbled into The Fabric Shop and came out about two and a half hours later with a really big bag of fabric!

    Then of course I made my usual rounds in Memphis from Hancocks to JoAnns to Broom Corn and then to Bumbletees (the best for last!). I love Bumbletees because they are a small business and artists! They are so awesome and their store is the coolest.

    So that’s where I shop around! But that’s just the beginning. It’s easy to love a fabric. It’s hard to pick three or four to put together. There are a number of ways to combine and choose fabrics to coordinate with each other, but here is how I work…

    There are a lot of great designers out there that create collections of fabric where several pieces are made to coordinate with each other. Even though these fabrics look great together I try my best to group fabrics together that were NOT made with the intention of being put together. I prefer the final look of those groupings because they feel more spontaneous and fresh. For instance…

    These fabrics are made by Moda. I love them! I loved them enough to buy all of them! haha… However, when placed together I feel like they cancel each other out. WIth the exception of the blue dot in the lower center I feel like these fabrics, when put together, do not give that punch that I look for in a fabric grouping.

    Non of these four fabrics were made by the same designer. Even though this selection is much brighter than the previous selection, I love how these fabrics work together better than the other selection.

    The reason I prefer the second selection of fabric is simple. It has to do with color/pattern tones, tints and shades. These are art terms that refer to the lightness and darkness of a color/pattern. It’s science. The first grouping of fabrics are in general the same tone. They are all the same colors and in general the patterns are all the same size. There is not a lot of variety of pattern size. The colors also do not vary in lightness or darkness from fabric to fabric. They are the same.

    The second grouping of fabric is much different. The floral is big and bold and very busy. There are light and dark tones of colors within this pattern. The pink and red dot is very different. The eye reads this pattern closer to a solid. It is much darker than the floral. The lime geometric print is similar in that the eye reads this pattern closer to a solid but much lighter than the red and pink dot. Finally there is the pink and lime stripe. It is also light like the green but it serves as the bridge that connects the red dot and green geometric prints together.The important thing is that the patterns vary in pattern type (floral, dot, strip, geometric), color tones (various light and dark and bright flowers, dark red and pink dots, lime geometric), and pattern size (the dot is bigger than the stripe but not as big as the floral). These three components work together to make a fabric grouping succeed!

    This may seem overwhelming and difficult to understand at first. A picture is worth a thousand words right? Below I have converted the two above images into black and white. Look at how the patterns differ from each other in this setting.


    The goal is to have some dark, some medium, and some light shades of whatever color you want. You absolutely do not want everything to look the same. The reason the fabrics on the right all look like one shade of gray is because the pattern sizes are similar, the fabric colors are similar, and the fabric types are all similar. There is not a great difference between the pieces. That is how your eye blends them together when you look at them.

    This is not a fast process all the time though! Do not get frustrated if it takes you a while to match up a bunch of fabrics like this. It takes me a while too. There are times I grab four fabrics and bam! it’s awesome, but most of the time I can spend anywhere between thirty minutes and several hours selecting the best combos.

    I know it’s great being able to walk into a store and feel and see the fabric in front of you but that isn’t always possible so I am including some links at the bottom to some of my favorite sites who feature my favorite designers! Once you find a designer or company you like you can google them and through the company that prints that designer you can locate places that are closest to you that sell that brand/designer! This way you can actually see and touch the fabric before you buy it. Good hunting ya’ll!! And don’t forget to keep me posted on your findings!

  • Getting discouraged is the easy part

    I remembered something today that I generally take for granted. It’s so easy to get discouraged when you are out shopping for material or whatever you need to make that perfect something. You go to one store and what they have isn’t perfect. You say to yourself, “Okay, the next store will have it.” Then by the fourth store you begin to doubt yourself and your idea/style and question every idea or thought you have.You convince yourself that this only happens to you because you look around and there’s that one person who is always dressed perfectly or you see a designer you like and since you love their work then they MUST know something you don’t. You are the one that sucks.

    When this happens- STOP. Nothing is wrong with you. Shopping is tough. I have my favorite real life stores and my favorite cyber stores. But it can take me days of shopping to nail down the perfect patterns for a bag. I never, and I mean NEVER, walk into one shop and walk out of that one shop with everything I need to make a bag in fifteen minutes. I sometimes spend 2 to 3 hours in one store and will walk out with only one swatch, and sometimes I walk in and am there 30 minutes and have bought several pieces of fabric. It depends on the bag and the day. 

    I needed to pick up a little happy for my dearest sis-in-law today. I wanted to get her one of those light stretch knit summer dresses that feel like air. Being in the south this is a MUST HAVE summer item. I thought I could whizz bang through Target and get a great cheap gorge outfit but it didn’t happen that way. I didn’t want to spend $30 regular price at Target for a dress. I needed a deal! So I went to TJMAXX and then Steinmart and then Wish and then Anthropologie (the sale room!) and then Gap and then finally to a local boutique Francesca’s. And there it was! I found the cutest bright pink knit dress on clearance for $9.98. I found 10 other dresses I liked before that one but none were the right price. I got the most beautiful of all the dresses I found for $20 cheaper than the cheapest of the others.

    It’s easy to give in and get discouraged and either give up or settle for something you didn’t think you really liked in the first place. I encourage you to instead suck it up and press through. Even if it takes longer than you wanted it too you will be so much more pleased with the end result if you are patient and hold out for what you really wanted!

    So next time you are out and about and you start to get down on yourself, take a moment and breathe and tell your brain to “shut up!- You got this!”

  • Challenge: combine dots and damask into a bag for a little girl. Make it sophisticated but retain the whimsy of a child.Solution: the coolest dot pattern ever with a beautiful pink rose print appliqued in a damask pattern on top of it! It will be embroidered tomorrow in a oh so cute child like font in the position where the typed font is now.

    Challenge: combine dots and damask into a bag for a little girl. Make it sophisticated but retain the whimsy of a child.
    Solution: the coolest dot pattern ever with a beautiful pink rose print appliqued in a damask pattern on top of it!
    It will be embroidered tomorrow in a oh so cute child like font in the position where the typed font is now.

  • Can’t wait to meet you Fenn!

    Can’t wait to meet you Fenn!

  • A painted project

    A painted project

  • My sis-in-law was thinking of getting a diaper bag and I thought this fabric would be perfect. Let’s see if I can match it with something.

    My sis-in-law was thinking of getting a diaper bag and I thought this fabric would be perfect. Let’s see if I can match it with something.

  • Hunting for fabrics… and other essential stuff

    I love sewing and I love a good bargain. I am always on the look out for great deals and the best most amazing fabrics I can find. Here are a few things I’ve picked up along the way:

    1. Know your local stores

    It is so vital that you know what’s around you. That’s the start to finding the best stuff and the best bargains in town. Sure it’s easy to recall the big name people: JoAnns, Hancocks, etc. but what about all those wonderful little gems you have to search out? My new favorite store in Memphis is Bumbletees. They are a studio and fabric shop. I love that buying there supports the economy in Germantown! Off the top of my head I can count 3 big stores in Memphis with 8 total locations in the area for fabric. I can also count 6 smaller locally owned businesses/franchises. But I am sure that there are still a few stores that I do not know exist…yet.

    2. Know the sales and sale trends of the stores

    Stores put things on sale in predictable patterns It’s up to you to figure out those patterns. Calico Corner has a remnants section. Frequently they put the remnants at 50% off. Hint: inner lining pieces are often here and sometimes they are large enough pieces for a whole window! I only buy from this section when it’s on sale. Hancocks and JoAnns both put sections of the store on sale in rounds. When the decor fabric is on sale then perhaps cotton is not. Pay attention! Buy the sale! JoAnns is my favorite coupon store. Though you may only use each coupon once, you can stack them and often use many at once. If you are a teacher you can join their teacher rewards program and get an extra 15% off every time you shop! Both JoAnns and Hancocks have mailing lists that email and snail mail you coupons- join them! (just make sure to give them an email that you use). Next weekend I am going to JoAnns to use the following coupons: 50% off any one regular-priced item, 50% off and one reguler priced fabric, 40% off any one regular priced item, 10% off my total purchase (independence day coupon), and finally my teacher rewards for an extra 15% off my total purchase. **flesh it out** I will be able to buy $15 a yard dupioni silk for about $5 a yard- awesome! There are two great places to buy pillow forms in Memphis Johnson’s and Discount Fabric. They have high quality and low prices on down and polyester inserts. Polyester pillow forms have come a long way. Don’t discount them before you try them out. There are many levels of quality here. Just because you found a bad one doesn’t mean that someone else’s isn’t awesome!

    3. Be Patient

    I only buy decor at Hancocks when it’s on sale. I know they often put their fabric on sale at 40% off but I also know that they will put it on sale for 60% off. They also put coupons online and in the paper. Use them!

    4. Don’t be afraid to dig

    One of my favorite finds came from the bottom of the clearance pile. Yes, at first glance this pile is ugly and is full of fabrics that make you question other peoples’ style choices. You must press on and dig through the urge to walk on by because lurking underneath cold be your gem!

    I found the fabric for the white Euro pillows in the bottom of such a pile. It was from a customer that special ordered it and decided they didn’t want it. Subsequently, I got this $30 a yard fabric for 70% off the regular price- and I got 4 yards of it! That was a happy day.

    5. Fabric and other supplies do not have to come from fabric stores

    The long bolster in the image above would have cost me a fortune had I bought it from a store. Two things make it expensive: the non customary length of it (it is super long) and the fact that it’s not a traditional shape (it’s not a square). I did not purchase this from a fabric store. I found it at Target for $20 (regular price! It was in the teenager aisle and had a different cover on it. I saw through what they wanted me to use it for and saw what I wanted it to become! Get creative and always be thinking of the potential of something rather than what it is now. You will be able to get many deals that way.

    6. Online is your friend

    If you find yourself locked in by the selection- or lack there of- of your local stores then go online! One of my favorite shops is They have an assortment of amazing designers and modern designs from which to choose. Some of my favorite designers include: Amy Butler, Michael Miller, Jennifer Paganelli, Joel Dewberry, Patty Young, Kate Spain, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner (who lives in Nashville and has a great blog of her own!), and the list goes on and on.

    to be continued…

  • A History of AshB Part One

    When I was in college one of my favorite classes was History of Science. The way my professor introduced a discussion about the Inquisition was showing Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part One. To this day I cannot hear about that subject without singing in my head “The Inquisition, what a thrill. The Inquisition, don’t get killed!”

    I went to school to be a painter and ended up finding power tools- loved it! I guess that’s a good description of how my creative life has gone ever since. I’m interested in so many things: painting, sewing, building, writing. It seems that each time I try something new I love it. Problem or positive? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

    The art of writing words and letters in an interesting way has been an interest of mine since I can remember. In grade school I would watch Christina write her name in bubble letters along with any other word or phrase on whatever surface was in front of her. She wrote quickly and with a certain ease that captured my interest. While I would struggle to make each letter perfect, it seemed that they just spewed out of her. I had to write like that. So began my obsession with words and how they were written. I began studying calligraphy books and fonts from computer Print Shop programs (ha ha remember those?!).

    After I graduated with my BFA in sculpture I got a job as a recruiter for that art college. Part of my job was developing relationships with the high school students I met around the country and subsequently get them interested in attending my school. One of the ways we did that was through writing postcards. But the challenge was- How do you get a high school senior (and art student) to WANT to read your letter when they are being inundated with mail from tons of other schools. My solution- write them something that makes them want to read it. My hand writing by this point had turned into a whimsical style where the letters weaved in an out of each other and the lines of paragraphs followed no formal rule. It worked! I has applicants calling to talk about the postcards I wrote them! One time I even received a letter from a student who wasn’t even an applicant. They had seen my postcard in their friends room and wrote me to ask if I’d write them a letter too! I laughed and wrote them back. At some point a lovely woman called the college in seek of a non-traditional calligrapher. She wanted a whimsical writing for the addressing of her daughters Bat Mitzvah. I was recommended, and AshB calligraphy was born.

    Zoom forward several years and I got married and became a high school art teacher. One of my responsibilities at the school was head costumer for the two shows the fine art department put on each year. As the spring musical tends to boast almost 50 actors and sometimes in upwards of 300 costumes, this is no small task. I quickly saw the positives in my learning my way around a sewing machine (more than simple lines I already knew how to do). Around that time I was also enjoying the products of a certain cotton quilted purse and tote maker who shall remain nameless. I had several bags, my mom-in-law had several bags and so did my sis-in-law. My niece, however, had no bags or luggage of her own. I saw this as a problem that I had to rectify asap. You see, she was a ballet dancer (age 4ish at the time) and it was customary for the girls to have luggage sets for their costumes and such. So Maddy of course needed a set of her own too! -very big deal- When I began to seek out this perfect luggage set, I became frustrated because everything I found was not cute enough, to grown up looking, or to cheap looking. Then it came to me- I sew! (like for 2 months at this time) I can make it! I then switched gears and began my search for fabrics and patterns. I found what I though to be the perfect stuff and began sewing. I did not have a machine that embroidered so I sewed those parts by hand. I made three pieces: a duffle bag, a cosmetic bag, and a hanging garment bag. They turned out pretty good for a first timer and everyone loved them. And so began AshB bags.

    It wasn’t long before I made Mothers Day totes for my mom, my mom-in-law, and my sis-in-law. This time I had the embroideries done by machine!

    Since then I have been working on my detailing skills making bags and pillows and dresses for whatever occasion I could make an excuse for which to make something most awesome. I’m Ashley Burns, founding artist of AshB design and this blog is my journey through beginning a small business. I’ll also put fingertips to keypad (pen to paper haha) to attempt to let you in on the methods and the madness that go on in my brain as I make and create my work. Thanks for reading and coming with me on the ride!


  • Some more fabric designs

    Some more fabric designs

  • Large Airport Tote

    Large Airport Tote