Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Ultimate Super Tote

A massive thank you to each and every one of you who left hits, tips and suggestions on my blog post and IG feed giving me your experiences in creating a Super Tote.  With your help, I'm delighted to say I have finished my very first Super Tote and I absolutely love it.

I have been watching so many of you make Super Totes with personal touches.  I knew when the day came that I made my own I wanted to tweak the pattern to suit my use of the bag. Needless to say, my chicken scratch covered the pattern within hours of my printing it.

The pattern is wonderfully written. Very clear instruction with easy to follow diagrams.  There are lots of ways to personalize your tote included as optional extras in the pattern itself, which was a nice touch.  

I started with the two large exterior pieces of  the bag.  I knew I wanted to use the Wordfind print from Playful as the "background" on the front panel.   The handles (and gusset) are of Essex Linen Navy because I wanted them to be extra sturdy.  The handles have batting inside and are a bit wider than called for in the pattern.  They're stitched...and quilted...and reinforced by stitching Xs at their base, giving them strength and form.  I used Annie's Soft and Stable as my interfacing to make the bag...well, soft and sable.  I wanted it to hold it's own shape, but squish under an air plane seat.  I found it to be pretty easy to work with even when at some points I was stitching it two layers thick plus several layers of fabric.  Not a bother.  On one side I put a slip pocket in Architextures and a key fob.  I also hid one side of a magnetic closure between the Wordfind print and the interfacing.  On the other went a internal zip with Architextures lining on the pocket.

That was as far as I could get in one day.  The next day I returned to add pockets to the front and I realized the Wordfind was just too much pink for me on the back.  I'd have to add pockets on both sides to break it up a bit.  Onto the back, I added a half pocket that I divided into two with basic stitching down the middle.  It was a nice way to also better secure the fabric to the interfacing.  The pockets are lined and have light, fusible interfacing between the two layers.  Instead of piping (as called for in the pattern) I just did a binding of Navy Essex on the top of the pocket to finish it.

On the front there's one massive pocket in Viewfinders  that again is lined, with interfacing and a binding on top.  Between the two layers I added the other half of the magnetic closure.  Boy it's hard getting photos of pockets on a bag, isn't it?

Next came the gusset of Essex linen backed with more Annie's Soft and Stable.   I pinned, and pinned and pinned and that worked well for me.  No blood was shed.  I hear, too, that Clover clips would work here as well.  I didn't have enough to make it all the way around so I had to stick to pinning.  Now, my gusset ended up being 2 inches taller on the left and right as compared to my bag (you can kind of see it in the photo).  I don't know why that is, but it was easy enough to cut that extra bit off.  I lost a bit of the pleat, though, on either side.  Next time I'll have to make the pleat it a bit longer to be sure I keep enough of it on the bag.

For the lining, I used the Jacks print from Playful.  I used interfacing between the layers on either side of the recessed zip.  I tried to get away without it, but you guys wouldn't have it.  I'm glad you stopped me from making  a huge mistake - I love it now that it's re-done and in use.

Inside you'll see another internal zip on one side and elastic pockets on the other.  I wasn't convinced that the elastic pockets would really be used (by me) or that they're high enough in the bag for me to find them (and the stuff in them).  I decided to give them a try, though, on one side to see how it went.  We'll see if they stay in my next super tote.

I used more Wordfind (scraps now) as the pocket lining in the internal zip.

And extra wide 1 inch thick elastic on the pockets.  I wish they were lined but at this point I was just getting tired and wanted this pretty finished.  It would have been easy enough to line them, though, so if they stay in the next Super Tote I'll add that to the pattern.

I do not like how the lining is just free floating inside the bag.  It seems kind of "baggy" and unrefined.   I can imagine myself snagging it when grabbing something at the bottom of the bag and pulling the lining fully out.  I flipped the bag inside out and added tacking stitches at 4-6 spots along either side of the lining gusset.  I just tacked the lining to the Annies hoping to keep it anchored a bit.

On the top of the bag the pattern tells you to top stitch along the upper edge.  I tried, but it looked just awful.  I'm pretty bad at that in general and this bag was no exception.  I decided to add another strip of Essex binding along the top and used navy thread that was then nearly invisible to stitch it down. I like it SO much more that way than as wobbly top stitching along the edge.

All in all I am delighted with how it came together.  It will come with me on a business trip later this week so it'll have the full test.  Stuffed with EPP and knitting, passports and reservation confirmations it will be shoved under the seat in front of me and strapped to a wheelie suitcase.  I'll let you know how it goes!

My photographic assistant, Miss Molly.  She's loving the first rays of the spring sunshine during our photo shoot.


Sarah Carey said...

Cindy its stunning. I love your fabric choices, bet you are looking forward to your trip so you can rock it! Well done, love it.

RedSetter said...

Loving your glamorous assistant!

That bag is perfection as it is so well thought out and super functional. Wishing you the best in using it.

Leanne said...

Your bag looks so good, I should make one too.

Teje Karjalainen said...

Hi Cindy! Fantastic bag and I need one like this, too! Your dog is so beautiful! x Teje

pennydog said...

Yes I like the binding at the top too so that was a great idea. Really must try out that soft and stable stuff soon. Your bag is so pretty :)

Sarah @ FairyFace Designs said...

Beautiful job, I love it!

Lynz said...

Looooooove!! And the binding at the top is actually a lovely touch! Great fabric choices, too. Clever girl!

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Coser Tejer Crear said...

Congrats my friend! This is an awesome bag! Its so beautiful! How does the Soft and Stable work? Iron on? Just sew in the edges? Im curious, since we dont have that in Spain. I love it, love it, love it! (I watched Wrecked Ralph today!) (And I'm saying it with Vanelopes voice) ;)

memmens said...

Well done on a superb piece of work, I think this is a bag where preparation and pattern reading is key. I found that the elastic pockets are useful for keeping a water bottle upright!

Nicole said...

Beautiful job! You really made it your own by customizing it.

Quilter in the Gap said...

I lurve your bag!!! Any chance you'll just mail me your bag to save me the heart check of learning all that? Ill see you one dress for your niece 😀

Ruth said...

It's gorgeous - love that outside print - had one of those viewfinders as a kid!

Judy said...

Wow, I'm impressed! There were a lot of steps to make that bag, but it has so many neat features and you did such a nice job making it. I bet it will be wonderful to put it into use :-)

Archie the wonder dog said...

It's fabulous and the binding round the top is a great touch - bravo!

Please give Molly a fuss round those gorgeous ears of hers x

Kirsten said...

Your tote looks amazing Cindy! Love all of the fabrics you have used and how you finished it with the binding around the top!

Erin @ Billy Button Design said...

Oh so lovely

patternsbyannie said...

Gorgeous bag! Thanks for sharing. I wish I could comment to the people above. I have some tips for sewing with Soft and Stable and also, we now have a distributor of Soft and Stable in Spain. Maybe you can pass the word along to them?


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