Christmas tote bag

Two weeks ago I decided to forbid myself from working on any sewing projects except the dress that was done except for buttons and a hem. I industriously sewed three whole buttons, then discovered a loophole…anything made with Christmas fabric had to be made immediately, because what’s the point of making something with a holiday theme if you can’t enjoy it for that holiday?

No, I did not sew all of those little squares – that’s just the pattern in the fabric. I’d rather sew buttons than put that much work into a bag.

Many years ago I went through a Christmas craft phase, during which I apparently went nuts buying holiday-themed fabric. I dug it all out and ran it through the washer and dryer. Lucy found the pile after I’d pulled it out of the dryer, so I had to delay putting it all away.

The fur on her front shoulder looks funny because she had elbow surgery about a month and a half ago, and they shaved both of her front legs. It’s been neat seeing it grow back because it’s all fuzzy and thick – it’s like she has a fleece undercoat.

Fortunately I’d snagged the fabric I wanted before she made her nest, because she was sleepy and therefore crabby. It’s best to let a sleeping Lucy lie.

The gray and white flowered fabric in the background is the dress that needs buttons. I seem to be able to walk by it every day without feeling guilty, so I’m trying to figure out another plan.

I originally thought I’d walk through Kristin Link’s free Craftsy class. I started watching the class, which is quite well done and very easy to follow. Then I decided the proportions of the main/contrast fabrics weren’t right for me, and what I really wanted was to duplicate a Vera Bradley tote bag that I use all the time. I wrote down the measurements used in the Craftsy class and measured my Vera Bradley bag…and then I went off the rails.

Making something without a pattern isn’t all that challenging as long as you’re okay making mistakes and having to redo things. Since I have this issue when I do follow patterns I was unfazed by the complications I created for myself. At some point along the way I wrote down these measurements, which are probably close to what I used:

main fabric

  • exterior: 16″ x 17″ on the fold
  • straps: 3″ x 27″
  • interior pocket: 12″ x 6″

contrast fabric

  • exterior: 16″ x 4″
  • interior: 16″ x 19″ on the fold
  • interior cardboard holder: 13″ x 5″

These measurements got a bit tweaked because I had to shave things down here and there to account for my sloppiness – but they’re roughly correct. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance. I totally made up the pocket. Next time I may sew a seam down the center because it’s a tiny bit floppy.

My Vera Bradley bag has a pocket-like thing at the bottom of the bag, with a thin piece of cardboard in it. It’s structured so you can easily remove the cardboard, presumably in case you want to wash your bag. I decided to not sew my version to the inside of the bag until I’d tried it out, but I probably will because it seems to be working well.

One thing I made up that I am happy about is that I cut the main exterior fabric and the interior fabric on the fold, so I didn’t have to sew a seam on the bottom of the bag.

You may be wondering why on earth I didn’t just finish watching the Craftsy class, which is an excellent question that I have also asked myself. I did like the class, at least the part that I watched, and I’ve recommended it to some of my girlfriends who are interested in learning how to sew – I have nothing but good things to say about the class. I’d been wanting to sew a tote bag for a while before I found out about the class, so I think I just wanted to see how good of a job I could do on my own. I’m planning on watching the rest of the videos to see what else I could have done better.

The end result is as I would have expected – the bag is nice, but would have turned out a little nicer if I’d put more thought into it. It really does help if you have a plan when you start a sewing project… That said, the bag is sturdy, and the business of the fabric makes it difficult for anyone (except me) to see where I was a little sloppy.

Now I don’t have any more excuses about sewing buttons…but I bet I can come up with something if I try…

2 thoughts on “Christmas tote bag

  1. Pingback: A ghost from my Christmas past | raspberry lemonade

  2. Pingback: Simplicity 1601 – Tote bag with flowers | raspberry lemonade

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