Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Really Big Tote" Pattern

I picked up a tote bag pattern earlier in the year called the "Really Big Tote" by Amy Totty from my local scrapbook-and-quilt store, Etc. Scrapbooks, Fabrics & More (they are closed now :/, but Amy Totty has since opened a new store, Bolts and More!). There was a sample of the pattern hanging in the store, which is what caught my eye and prompted me to buy the pattern.

I was a tiny bit concerned that the gathered circular bottom was more than I wanted to take on, but then I thought, What they hey, I gots this.

Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote

Fabric

Along with the pattern, there were fabric kits available and I was tempted by a metallic canvas (it was by Cotton + Steel) in one of the kits, but I was ultimately dissuaded from purchasing the kit because the pattern didn't come with it. (Perhaps that's standard and I'm just not hardcore enough of a sewer to have known that).

I ended up going to JoAnn to pick up fabric for this project (with sales + coupons being as plentiful as they are with a big box craft store), and also decided as I was picking out said fabric, that I would make the tote as a snail mail surprise for Greg's aunt, who loves birds.

I left JoAnn's with a solid navy cut of fabric, as well as a cream fabric with a blue leaf and bird pattern. Instead of quilting cotton fabrics, I opted for outdoor fabrics, which I've felt like are more wrinkle-resistant coming out of the wash + dry cycles, and are heavier weight fabrics.

To prep my fabrics for sewing, I washed them in a normal cold water cycle and dried them as I normally do with medium heat because I like any shrinkage to happen before I cut and sew my fabric.

Pattern

Overall, I really liked the foundation of the pattern, but I made the following adjustments to the pattern because of personal preference:

  • Added inside lining. The original pattern is for an unlined tote bag with French seams on the inside for the sides. The seam around the gathered bottom would have been left unfinished. I opted to add inside lining to not only hide any seams, but also give the bag a bit more structure. I considered adding interfacing to the bag for even more structure, but decided against it with the gathered bottom.
  • Widened the binding and the straps.
  • Since the width of the strips in the original pattern were thin for my preferences, especially given the size of the tote, I widened the straps and binding to be about 3/4 inch (it could've even been an inch, it's been a while since I finished the bag).
  • Sewed a pocket to the inside as well as outside. This helped make the tote bag reversible. Never hurts to have a pocket both inside and outside! I also made the pockets lined on the inside by sewing two pocket pieces together before sewing it onto the bag body. Because of that, you can tell that a little bit of pocket lining peeks out, especially against the solid navy. If I did this bag again, I think I'd try making the lining pocket piece a smidgen smaller so that it doesn't poke out when sewing onto the bag body.

The pattern was hand-drawn, which for rectangular pieces of the pattern, didn't matter. I noticed the circular bottom wasn't exactly a circle, but because the bottom is gathered, it's a very forgiving pattern.

I've thought about making another one, but before I do that, I have to make it through all the other projects on my docket!


Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote

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