phoenix fire hogaboom, naturalist

Originally written & posted for Sew Mama Sew:

Since my daughter was very wee she’s had a gentle interest in the natural world – and when it comes to local flora and fauna, flowers, insects, and small wild creatures still capture her attention. Some of the most lovely blooms and busiest bugs are out this time of year, so for our “back to school” Sew Mama Sew project (we are homeschoolers) I thought to make her a custom-satchel with exactly what she might want on a nature walk, complete with custom pockets and carrying versatility.



Pressing plants and flowers is actually quite easy; what one needs are the tools to bring home intact, non-bruised samples and (if you like) resources to help identify your findings. Included in what I began calling the “Naturalist’s Satchel” are the following:

As for the construction of the bag, I was inspired by the Kwik Sew pattern 3687. Originally designed as a flat-satchel backpack with simple tie-loops (rather than all those black plastic rings and fittings), my children have sometimes tied the straps together to wear it cross-body, and sometimes worn it in “backpack” configuration. I decided to adopt a similar set-up.

Once I stacked up the assembled supplies to get an idea of the volume of the satchel, it was easy to sketch a box-style construction (adding a 1/2″ seam allowance to all edges, since there are no fancy hem allowances etc) and design specialized pockets. I created a large flat pocket for the notebook and workbooks…

Flat Pocket

… and elastic holders to secure the bulkier water bottle and sample jar.


My favorite details are the strap stitching and loop ties:


Loop / Knife

The bottom is a waterproof rugged nylon from, a leftover remnant from Phoenix’s Green Pepper messenger bag. I quilted this to a medium-weight wool blend flannel to add some structure:

Bottom: Quilted, Waterproof, Rugged

When I gave my daughter her present she immediately grasped the import of this and called a friend for a “nature walk”. I walked partway with her to snap a few photos.

A Walk

Phoenix observes a spider “preparing for a feast”:

Phoenix Watches A Spider

Off on a secluded path she found herself (that I didn’t know about until now):


Specimens of note on today’s walk are the beautiful purple and gold flowers of the European bittersweet, a lovely and common enough bloom to be found in these parts (sometimes tengentially referred to as deadly nightshade) which is listed by Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast as “moderately poisonous to humans and livestock”.

First Specimen

Remember – make sure you have permission if you want something from someone’s private property!


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