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.
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.