Tote-ally Awesome: Tote Bag from Sew Everything Workshop

This project from Diana Rupp’s “Sew Everything Workshop” went pretty well!  Diana Rupp has instructions for a hand tote, a shoulder tote, and a long-handled tote.  I decided to make a long-handled cross-body tote.  This isn’t usually my style, since my body type isn’t suited to cross-body straps.

Tote bag worn across my body

But, I was in the mood to make something I wouldn’t normally make, and I didn’t need any more grocery bags, which is what I would have used the short-handled tote for.

I drew the patterns directly on the wrong side of the fabric, since its pretty simple, and I don’t need to keep a bunch of rectangular pieces of paper around my already crowded apartment.

My problems were:

1)   As written, the strap is much too narrow. No one needs a tiny little strap that is gong to cut into your shoulder because it doesn’t have enough surface area to distribute weight comfortably.  I started to make the strap as indicated, but ended up more or less doubling the width.  I think it looks fine, and will be much more comfortable. Make the strap wider for the long-handled tote.

2)   This is just a personal problem, but I found it difficult to match up the proper bag style with the proper strap style.  In fact, after I finished, I realized that I had in fact used the cross-body strap with the shoulder tote.  But, you know what?  This is my fault for not reading the directions twice, and then a third time because I am a beginning sewer. Lesson: read the directions, lazy! Then, read them again to make sure you really understand what you are supposed to do. 

I added an inside pocket so I can stay organized and I won’t have to dig around for my wallet and keys and get all frazzled.

Tote lining and pocket
Tote lining and pocket. I should have positioned the pocket lower down!

I felt like the bag looked a little plain, and I also wanted a secure way to close it, so I got a 1 ½ white ceramic button and broke out the buttonhole foot. The button had raised linear dots, so it fit in perfectly with the theme of the bag, and I was excited about using the buttonhole feature.  Unfortunately, it was at this point that I realized that the most aesthetically pleasing place to put the button is right on top of the pocket.  Gah! Always think two steps ahead. If you think you might want to add a button, place pockets accordingly. I ended up sewing in two snaps inside of the tote instead.

So, this project was a success!  There were some problems with less-than-perfectly straight stitching, but that is just something I will have to work on and learn over time.  I think I could use this bag for walking my dog in the park, when I don’t want to use a backpack, but when I want to have some water with me, or for just roaming around.

Tote worn across shoulder

Grade: A- .  No major problems with this project as written, I just feel the strap is too narrow.