A New Bag

Totes a Lot
Totes a Lot Pattern & my fabric choices

My quest for the perfect bag continues. Actually, I need two bags: a small purse to tuck my wallet, keys, and Starbucks card into because I usually leave the pockets off my clothes and a big tote bag to put all my crap in that I seem to need to lug everywhere. So I decided to give the Totes a Lot pattern a try. It’s by Nancy Mirman.

Totes a Lot

The pattern calls for quilting cottons and batting or fleece or something between the layers. I decided to use bottomweight fabric that was left over from previous projects, so I didn’t need the middle layer/batte. The fabric with the embroidery is a navy flannel that I made pants out of. The plain denim was a jacket that didn’t work out. DH bought the striped denim for temporary shades, and the light colored denim was a pair of pants.

I’m very pleased with how the embroidery came out. I digitized the oak leaf. Beth told me that it is a red oak leaf. Anyway, there are 2 different patterns, the solid leaf and the outline. I randomly placed the outline leaves.

Totes a Lot
Embroidery Details

I wish I could say I am very pleased with the rest of the bag. I do really like the size and all the pockets. The construction method leaves a lot to be desired. This bag is constructed of rectangles. Each piece is cut out of the “main” fabric, the … um … “lining” fabric, and a piece of batting or fleece. The instructions tell you to layer the 3 pieces like a quilt sandwich and bind the top edge of each piece. Except for the 2 main pieces, there are no instructions to finish any other edges.

Totes a LotTotes a Lot
Pockets on the ends of the tote

The instructions say to sew the bag right sides together and then to enclose the seams by resewing the edges wrong sides together. This was really hard to do on my sewing machine, and if you look closely at the image on the right, you can see I only encased the seams close to the top of the bag. It was just too many layers to go thru once I got down near the pockets, so I have many unfinished seams, on grain, in the interior of the bag.

Totes a Lot
Bag Front

The only other issue, that I have is that the length of the key holder is way too long for me. Well, and I refuse to use velcro. I’d much rather put in a snap or a zipper.

Totes a Lot
Bag Back

Overall, I really like this bag. It’s a good size for me. I like the chance for embellishment on the front pocket. The back pocket is perfect for my purse. The side pockets are great for my cell phone and camera. I can carry my journal inside and some art supplies, plus my makeup (that I almost never wear) and my allergy meds.

Totes a Lot

I made some other changes in addition to not using the fleece filler. I took tucks in the top of the side pockets. The pattern called for elastic threaded in the binding. I had very securely finished my binding with decorative stitches, so I was unable to thread anything through the binding. One of the interior pockets is supposed to run the length of the bog and be secured with velcro. I hate velcro, so you know I didn’t do that. I split the pocket into 3 pockets and omitted the closure.

I need to use the bag for a while before I can pass final judgement, but as of now, I like it.

Gift Bag Completed

It doesn’t look much different from the last picture. I used a heavy weight striped denim to line the bag and construct the handles. Denim is so easy to sew!

To the left is a closeup of the tulle applique. I think it came out really neat. The tulle is blue with silver stars printed on it. I cut the moon shapes freehand with my rotary cutter. I had to use a lot of pins to secure them.


the other side by Neefer.

And here are the handles. I mailed it off more than a week ago, and I haven’t heard if it arrived.
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The other side of the purse

Were you wondering if I was going to share the other side of the purse? I’ve been so busy. Chunguita has been sick with a tummy bug. We celebrated my birthday this weekend. I’m 40, today. Anyway, I celebrated on Saturday with DH, Chunguita, and Pulguito. They gave me an espresso machine which I LOVELOVELOVE. On Sunday, we got all dressed up and drove into Oakland to meet my family at Kincaid’s. Kincaid’s used to be my favotire restaurant, and this time it was okay, but not great, kinda salty. The last time, it was just awful, but I had totally forgotten that. Right when the soup and salad arrived, Chunguita threw up on DH. He had managed to get her away from the table, so she threw up on the floor and on him. So we ended up leaving early. I remind myself that it was to experience things like this that I had children. I didn’t get any sewing done this weekend.

I started this side of the bag with the same burnout panne as on the other side. On this side, in addition to the unstable stretchy panne problems, I had problems with a polyester silky fabric. I didn’t have trouble with it on the other side. I think the difference is that on the other side, it was an interior fabric; that is, it was sewn down on all 4 sides. On this side, it was at the edge. I had terrible problems with it bagging. I don’t know if I stretched it or what. Note to self: interface this sort of fabric before using for crazy patch.

I used decorative stitches on the seams. On one seam, I sewed down a wide velvet ribbon. It looks like another bit of the patchwork. On top of everything I couched yarns and threads. I used to really like this look, but I think I’m ready to move on to something new.

Gift Bag

Things are so busy that I haven’t touched my sewing. My cutting table is covered with boxes that came in the mail for xmas gifts. I had a few seconds before the kids came home, so I snapped a couple of pix of the bag for you-all.

The recipient of this bag suggested green, navy, and black as her preferred colors. She’s the second person to request green, and I’m starting to run out of green scraps (time to shop!). So I used blues beyond navy. The center patch is a polyester stretch burnout panne from Joann’s last year (see t-shirt to the left). I don’t usually use knit fabrics for crazy patch. They are too unstable to support the embellishment process even when backed with muslin. If I could remember things for more than 2 seconds, I would have interfaced this fabric before using it. Alas, I did not. On this side, it didn’t matter so much because there isn’t much embellishment on the panne.

I really like the way the tulle appliques came out. I used a decorative stitch along one side the attach them. If I do this again, I must remember to embellish the seams BEFORE doing the applique. You can hardly tell, even in person and upon close examination, but the seam embellishments go over the appliques.