A little over a year ago when I purchased my new sewing machine I also bought some fabric and a pattern to make a tote bag. It was early spring and I was in the mood for something cheerful, so I picked out some Lakehouse Dry Goods 100% cotton prints in bright yellows, pinks, and oranges. These are not colors I would normally use for much of anything, but they’re colors I really like. So I thought making a tote would be fun.
The main reason I got the materials for this tote was to practice using my new machine, especially the special features for quilting.
However, I didn’t get to it until this past Friday. I spent most of the day, after our mountain bike ride, working on it and completed all but the bottom stiffener piece which had to be glued and wait overnight to dry.
I had forgotten how to use some of the functions on the sewing machine, so I had to pull out the instruction books and fiddle around with it some to get everything to work right, particularly the stitch regulator for quilting.
Quilting the front pocket.
The BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) is pretty cool. You put it on and you can choose between two modes: 1 = using the foot pedal to control your speed while freehand stitching or 2 = letting the movement of the fabric under the foot control the stitching. I like the second mode the best because it lets you pause and think about where you are going next. The first mode is good if you want to get little stitches for things like tendrils and vines.
I am still not very good at freehand quilting, but fortunately most of my mistakes blend in well with the ladybug print. Where the quilting stitching really shows I just did straight line quilting.
Here are some construction pictures:
Stitching on the completed front pocket–it’s quilted and fully lined.
I modified the pattern a bit and added the little yellow fabric tucks on the pocket and tote front and back.
Front, back and lining pieces completed. Each of these pieces is fused to a piece of fleece.
as recommended in the pattern.
Quilting the lining. I used the same fabric as the front pocket and quilted between the dots as before, only this time I put two rows of dots between quilting lines instead of one as on the pocket.
Quilting the tote bottom side and bottom pieces. I just followed the lines in the plaid–easy!.
I was too busy re-learning how to use the BSR to take pics of that while quilting the ladybug fabric. I just did a meandering quilting there.
Fortunately my mistakes blend in with the print.
I have some narrow ones and some wide ones.
Stitching the narrow strips for side ties and button loop. I stitched both sides of these for a little more finished look.
I also did extra stitching on the handles for the same reason.
Boxing the bottom corners.
You can see the fusible fleece on the back of the fabric pieces here.
Yes, those are my feet in my hot green and blue sports socks next to the upended bag while I’m boxing the corners.
The yellow ties get stitched on the sides.
You can sort of see the stitching on the handle on the left of the photo.
Ooops! I just noticed that the plaid didn’t match too well on this side.
Not to worry, though, because the sides get tied like this.
Of course, this photo doesn’t show the plaid, but believe me, you don’t notice the un-matching.
At least I don’t!
Here’s the inside (sans bottom stiffener piece).
Look at all those pockets. The side narrow ones on the ends have stitching at the bottom that makes them shorter so you don’t lose your pens or lipstick tubes or other small, narrow objects.
Pretty cool, huh?
Another modification I made to the pattern was the piece that fits in the bottom.
Pattern calls for two pieces of stiff cardboard such as matt board glued together. Did that.
Then it says to wrap around and glue the fleece and fabric so it covers just one side.
I didn’t like it to be that unfinished, so I made a double-sided case, slid in the cardboard and hand stitched it closed. Much nicer.
This fits nicely in the bottom.
Rather than purchase a button, I thought it would be cute to make a covered button with one of the ladybugs. How did I know it would be tough to choose which one? ‘Turns out that these ladybugs have subtle differences in expression due to the position and shape of the ‘pupils’ in their eyes. So cute!
(Alert readers will note this picture was the teaser from yesterday.)
Finished bag pics:
OK, now that it’s finished–and I really like it, I might add–will I really take this eye-blindingly bright bag out in public????
It definitely will make a nice knitting and/or needlework project bag, especially with all those nice pockets.
But the colors are so out of character for me…..I don’t know. It may be a stay at home project bag.
It is definitely an attention-getter
BTW, this is a pretty good sized tote–approximately 11″ x 11″ x 5″–so it’s ideal for “toting” things, but really too big, at least for me, for a purse.
I just saw on the website, however, that there is a smaller version pattern available June 15, called the Mini Bow Tucks Tote, which I assume would be more purse sized. And there are some other really cute patterns there, too.
Perhaps the mini tote in some more subdued colors, or maybe some of my more more subtle hand dyed fabrics would be good for another one. The pocket could have some monoprinting or pieced work. Hmmm….lots of ways to turn a commercial pattern into something more creative. It’s going on my burgeoning list of to do projects.