Bags,  Fabrics,  Patterns

My New Summer Tote #HandmadeWithJoann and #butterickpatterns!

It’s that time of year, again. Festivals, farmers’ markets, fleamarkets, and just plain fun-in-the-sun, they all mean it’s time to switch up to a big tote. I found the perfect pattern and the perfect fabric and … voila! Let Summer begin!

You guys know I’m a sucker for bags but I usually go in for smaller, drawstring-type bags. I’m not one to carry around a lot of baggage, literal or figurative. But when Summer rolls ’round, it’s a whole different ballgame.

During the winter all I need is my debit card, my driver’s license and my phone. Most of the time I just drop them in my pocket and don’t even bother with a bag. But during the summer there’s sunscreen, a bottle of water, and an actual wallet to carry real cash cuz they don’t accept debit cards at fleamarkets and those little roadside farm stands.

What I was looking for

I wanted a large tote but I didn’t want it to look like one of those grocery tote bags. I wanted it to have some kind of unique design. I also wanted it to have some structure to it. I love making bags but I don’t want them to look handmade. At first glance I want people to think, “What a cute bag! I wonder where she got it.”

To avoid that “handmade” look I also wanted handles of some sort, not a drawstring closure and not just a couple of fabric strips sewn to the side of the bag. I haven’t really found a ready-made handle that I like yet so I knew the handles would have to be made from fabric.

The problem I have with a big tote is they’re usually a big open space and everything gets all jumbled around inside. So I was also looking for a pattern that would allow me to compartmentalize my stuff. Not that I carry a lot of stuff, I just want to be able to find it when I need it.

My final requirement was that the pattern had to be one that would highlight the fabric. I knew I wanted to use at least 3 different prints (I’m trying to learn how to mix colors and patterns) and I wanted all of them to be visible on the outside of the bag.

Sounds like I was being pretty picky, doesn’t it? And you’re right – I was. If I was going to carry it around all summer it had to be just the right bag.

Butterick Pattern B5658 for the WIN!

This tote pattern from Butterick is exactly what I was looking for. It has two huge pockets, one on each side. One of these pockets alone is large enough to hold everything I normally carry so the fact that there are two is a huge bonus!

It’s a structured bag, not just a whip-it-up-quick drawstring bag. In fact, I actually spent a couple of hours just studying the pattern before I even started cutting it out. Not because it’s complicated, because it isn’t. It’s a fairly easy pattern to follow.

The floral patterns are some of our Premium cotton prints and the pink gingham is from our Keepsake Calico collection.
Plenty of room on the inside for carrying my tablet and anything else I might be toting along for the day.
Two huge pockets on the outside so I can keep my keys and phone handy.

One word of caution…

I didn’t realize it until I got it home but this pattern calls for home dec fabric, which makes sense. It’s a large bag. If you want it to stand up on it’s own it’s going to take some fabric with a little weight behind it.

But you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. I really wanted to use these cotton prints so I just ironed on some fusible interfacing to every piece before I started sewing. Worked like a charm!

Donna Anderson

Donna Anderson 'works' at Joann Fabrics at 4600 W. Broad St. in Columbus, OH. Just look for the crazy old lady behind the cutting counter. As a kid, she ran with scissors and ate paste. She's since found safer, more creative ways to use her Fiskars and Mod Podge. Next time you're at the store, stop by the cutting counter and have a chat! (Just please don't ask her about lightbulbs!)

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