It's finished -- my version of Anna Graham of Noodlehead Patterns' Maker's Tote!!
And it's the first project to be crossed off my third quarter list for the 2017 Finish-A-Long!!
Hopefully, it won't be the only one!!
It's the only stitching I did last week so it's fun that it is a FINISH!!
Six of the past seven days have been crowded with people and activities including a visit to my friend's prairie in central Ohio (I shared lots of pictures last year HERE)
as well as a visit to The Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio -- one of our great treasures I think!
This bed was filled with every color of coneflower currently available and it was stunning.
You know I left with two pots for my own garden!
Back to the tote -- the detailed instructions require careful study but every step was completely covered. I spent a free afternoon cutting out everything needed for the body of the tote and organized it by steps on the studio floor. While that's not a typical strategy for me, it was a good one and I need to make it a regular habit going forward!
I found a couple episodes of Vera on Hoopla to entertain me while working through all the steps.
I decided not to learn a new skill and use a button instead of a snap but the search for buttons in my stash was futile. It was fun to poke through the box and rediscover some little gems -- I need to find a use for more of these to keep them out of the "big yard sale"!!
In the end, I opted for a Velcro closure on the pieced pocket.
The thick foam interlining was intimidating to me, but my Bernina wasn't not phased by it.
There are two zipper installations in this tote and one of them uses an application from my tailoring past -- don't think I've done one of these since college?
Instructions were good and so I moved through it well if somewhat hesitant.
The combination of foam interfacing and my coarse outer fabric made pressing this edge impossible.
Thank goodness for basting!
That did the trick allowing me to insert the zipper behind the opening and stitch it in place.
The inner pockets are applied to the lining and are very roomy!
I adjusted the size of one of the pockets to accommodate the notebook that is always with me so I don't lose track of notes and ideas for the blog!
Once the lining was ready, it was time to layer it with the outside shell and insert the side gussets.
This is definitely the most challenging part of making this tote. Anna advises going slowly and carefully so I (wisely) did this step at the beginning of one of my work sessions to avoid being impatient because I was tired. These clips are becoming a favorite notion -- there was no way I could have pinned through all the layers successfully at this point.
I was disappointed when I looked down into the tote after inserting the side gussets -- you can see the excess fabric at the bottom.
Because the Ghana fabric doesn't handle de-stitching well, I fudged a bit and took a pleat in the bottom to remove most of the excess fabric.
I looked at all the photos I could find on Instagram and elsewhere of the inside of others' totes and couldn't tell much -- did I make a mistake? I went back over all the measurements to see if I made a cutting error. In the end, I think the pleat is the result of the lining being the same length as the outside of the bag -- because of the thickness of the foam interfacing used to give the tote such a nice shape, I think the lining should be a little shorter so it lays smoothly inside the tote.
Therefore I've made a note on my pattern to take a 3/4" seam when stitching the two lining pieces together next time I make the tote.
Time for the main zipper!
Once again, basting was the easiest way for me to keep it in place.
Anna's instructions for inserting this zipper are clear so my results are good.
The edges are finished with bias binding and really give the tote a professional look.
I'm so glad I bought one of these Clover bias tape makers years ago and almost as glad that I've learned to put it in the same drawer every time I use it!
It makes the task of preparing the strips so easy!
In no time, I had 2 1/2 yards of bias tape ready to stitch onto the tote!
Loving these clips!!
Last step was making the handles -- I added extra stitching for texture since it's plain black fabric.
Anna designed it to have four layers of fabric and interfacing so it's quite sturdy.
It's a bit wide for my small hands, so I made a note to cut the piece an inch narrower next time.
Here's a peak inside!
It's very roomy and will be especially nice for my hand stitching or knitting when I'm traveling.
My only other small modification would be to place the front pocket up 1" higher on the front of the bag. I may still move it but it will have to be hand stitched in place if I do that.
If you are tempted to make this bag, I encourage you to go for it!
It was a good experience and I'm pleased with the results.
This one is definitely for me but it will be a good gift make in the future!!
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a project to put inside the tote!!