A Not-Really Tutorial: Quick Tote Bag

I’ve been pleasantly swamped in Designland lately. I know, I know. I say that and then I show you nothing. Feel free to roll your eyes at my senseless teasing. I’m clearly heartless.

But here’s the good news. I do have a mini impromptu okay-it-could-be-a-tutorial-but-not-really-because-I-measured-nothing-and-eyeballed-everything-so-I’d-need-to-send-you-my-eyeballs-so-you-can-make-one-exactly-like-this tote bag. If nothing else, this shows you a fun quick way to use my Civil Rights History toile.

I’ve been wanting to make a gift out of this fabric for a while now for a dear friend of mine who was at one point a history teacher (hello, perfect pairing!) and after perusing the internet, I basically knew how I was going to construct this. Very simply and a wee bit hastily as I was short on time before the get-together where I’d be gifting it.

So here’s a quick look at what I did (pardon the photos; it’s been rainy and dull here lately)…

I pulled the fabric I wanted and examined a tote bag I had already that I liked the basic shape of. I also looked here and here for some other ideas (all of which weren’t exactly what I was looking for) and after making a mental picture of the basic size and shape I wanted, well, I went renegade. LET’S. DO. THIS. my inside voice hollered. We have no safety net. Repeat. We have no safety net.

That’s right. No measuring. No test fabric (oh I have scrap fabric; my bullheaded self just didn’t want to waste the time and use it). Just a couple of hours and a deadline. So I took the month of April (as I love to reuse big paper when I can) and quickly drew my outline, folded the paper in half and cut it out.

Also because I was feeling good and rebellious about it all, I opted for contrasting thread. In this case a nice orange that would pop on both the inside purple and outside black and white. Plus, it’s always easier to not worry about matching tones when you use contrasting thread. And it adds extra interest, I think.

So after some cutting and snipping, I had both the inside and outside ready to be flipped. I’ll admit now that somewhere in there I made an error and couldn’t turn the entire bag inside out in one piece without the handles disappearing somewhere inside, never to see daylight again.

So I did something incredibly helpful and highly predictable. I got frustrated. You know, because I wouldn’t use a stinkin’ pattern in the first place and assumed this should be straight forward (because I sew soooo often) and oooooh, noooo, everything’s under control. I’m a sewing renegade! Be afraid! Be very afraid of my POWER! 

Um. The power to mess something simple up, that is. Hahaha. And no, I don’t have photos of the mess-up. Because I was hopping mad at it messing up (not me. IIIII didn’t mess it up). So I unpicked a couple of places with my fancy-meeting-you-here seam ripper and flipped Totey MacTotester right side out and topstitched my want to the finish line.

After the dust had settled and all strings were trimmed, I had one lovely toile tote bag to give to my friend. Taa-da! Oh, like I said before, please excuse the photos. that’s supposed to be white, not bluish as the rain gods would have you otherwise think.

It looks pretty sweet, I think. And yes, yes, if I had followed a pattern, it might have been jazzier, blah, blah, blah. I’d also have missed out on some silly frustration. But sometimes you’ve got to go renegade and battle your crafty battles cold and full frontal.  It’s invigorating to say the least.

And in the end, hey, it’s handmade. And my friend loved it. So YAY to that!