Wow! I’m in Round 3 of the Super Online Sewing Match!
I’m so excited to make it to this round. That was some super stiff competition and I breathed a sigh of relief to find that I had moved on into the next round. For round three, our challenge is to make the Caravan Tote by Noodlehead Patterns. I’ve never heard of this pattern before, and I was thrilled to make something that looks deceptively simple, but has some really interesting details.
I’ve made a lot of tote bags, but they are self-drafted and much more simple. The first bag I made using a pattern with good instructions was my recent carry-on bag and before that I made a leather purse that had zero instructions and because of that, was quite difficult to make. This bag, however, had excellent instructions and I wasn’t befuddled by any portion of the bag making process.
I went all out with my tote to make a unique bag personalized especially for me. I also didn’t want a bag that looked like something I could buy at any department store. Most of the reason why I sew is so that I can have one-of-a-kind garments and accessories. Of course this is a competition and I really want to push myself, but I also want to create something that I will actually use while individualizing this pattern. The Caravan Tote has options to make it into a fabulous knitting bag, so that is what I made. I made a large zippered tote bag for my knitting a while back, but I pretty much just store yarn in it. When I travel with my knitting, I just take a small tote, so I figured this was my opportunity to make a cool bag with all the bells and whistles. Perhaps it will inspire me to knit more than scarves?!
I took advantage of the gift certificate for this round provided by the Fat Quarter Shop, and after much deliberation, I chose fabrics from the Picnic Collection by Melody Miller for Cotton + Steel. I fell in love with the retro picnic baskets and the accompanying designs and thought it might be cute to make a bag that essentially has bags on it. 🙂 As I couldn’t see the fabrics in person, I figured it would be best to choose fabrics from a quilting collection as they are made to coordinate with each other. When my fabric arrived (very quickly, BTW!), I sat down with some drawings and my fabrics and figured out how to cut it all out. This process combined with cutting the pieces out and assembling the PDF probably took about half as long as it took to make this bag, and this bag was time consuming.
This tote pattern is not complicated to make as the instructions are so very helpful and easy to comprehend, but it’s a lot of work. There are a lot of steps and a lot of pieces and yes, a lot of hardware. It also takes a lot of interfacing! Now I know why I’ve used canvas and other home dec fabrics for all of my previous bags! In the end, though, you get a really cool bag with hidden gems residing under zippers and inside. It was definitely a worthwhile project.
I guess I couldn’t personalize this bag more than putting my name on it. I embroidered the exterior pocket flap with my name in script along with some cute little retro stars in coordinating colors. I took some pink fabric from my pile of fabric scraps as I wanted it to stand out from the busyness of my fab tote. I interfaced and embroidered the pattern piece first before assembling my bag, to keep it clean and neat.
The pattern suggests using heavy duty snaps for the pocket flap and I did have some, but I really wanted to use my pearl snaps for this to keep on with the retro feel of my tote. The fabrics weren’t too thick, so they worked just fine and gave a little bit of western charm to my tote bag.
As I had my pink contrast piece laid out on my sewing table, I decided that a pink zipper would also work great melding the color scheme together. The zipper you see here is actually the second one I put in, as the first one decided to opt out of this bag and broke. Of course I had four pieces of fabric sewn to it at the time, so I wasn’t too happy when I had to take the whole damn thing apart and start over. Luckily, I had another pink zipper in my stash, I just had to shorten it to the right size to make it work. And work it does.
I put some pink piping on the back of my bag to continue my pink scheme and separate the contrast top from the main fabric. I don’t know about you, but once I start sewing piping in, I just want piping on all the things. I stopped myself from piping all the seams, but it was difficult. Less is more sometimes.
The needle pocket is my favorite feature of this bag. I had been meaning to make a needle roll for myself (I even bought all the fabric and supplies for it), but now I have a built in one. Excellent!!
I chose to use leather for my straps rather than make fabric ones. This leather is upholstery leather remnants from the Leather Hide Store and left over from my leather purse project. After cutting the straps, I top-stitched them with a leather needle and heavy duty thread. I added nickel d-rings and leather holders to my bag to give it a little extra touch. Most of my bag notions were in my stash and were purchased at Beverly’s.
Of course, I also had to make the optional pouch! Coordinating!
I am really pleased with my bag and look forward to many years of happiness with it. I’ll be taking it a lot of places when I carry my knitting with me.