Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ria's Tote- Accomplished!

    After a great deal of thinking, ripping, more ripping, and even more ripping, Ria's tote bag is done. I had searched for a pattern and found one that had a zipper top that could fall inside when not used instead of zipping flush with the top (hard to zip when full). I wanted handles that attached not at the top because of the strain it puts on the top edge. I thought I found the ticket with a pattern from byAnnie (the Totally Trendy Tote). Nope. I wish that pattern sellers would show you the insides and more closeups in their promo pictures. This pattern did not have a separate lining so that you could have pockets on the inside (pockets on the inside of a tote such an unusual concept?). From the photo, it looked as though it had a solid color bottom and then patterned body, but no. It calls for one large pattern fabric piece with dark strips sewed over the sides- not real useful when the bag is set on dirty surfaces and a waste of patterned fabric. I asked a few purse maker friends for advice. Since they do this stuff all the time, it was helpful, but the nitty gritty that they do automatically left me wondering what was next and why it wasn't right. I tried cutting a paper pattern out, but paper was not helpful here. I ended up dividing the fabric with one piece for the bottom and lower sides (the dark), and 2 pieces of patterned for the sides. I did not sew strips over the beautiful flower fabric.
Bottom piece with 2 pieces of patterned fabric attached. Front pockets done.
I ended up quilting the flowers after this on the whole bag.
Zipper pinned wrong way. Unfortunately, I sewed it this way. And ripped it out.

   The straps were supposed to be sewn and turned inside out and webbing pulled through the inside. I did not think I could do that well without stretching the seams on the straps. So, I used the Soft and Stable stuff cut in strips, put inside the straps and then sewn shut with rows of topstitching. I think they are stiff enough. The Soft and Stable is spongy to sew and bunches the fabric. It gives good body and flexibility, but sews funny. 
   I was advised not to cut the rectangles in the bottom to make the boxed bottom as per directions because it weakens the fabric. I sewed a triangle across the seam after I sewed the side seams and did not trim the triangles off as I wanted to bottom of the bag to have some weight. I used the outside dimensions of the bag and cut a out a lining. I made inside pockets by using a long strip of fabric doubled in width so I could fold it over lengthwise and used Decor Bond interfacing to make the pockets stiff. I put a long pocket, 6" deep, on both sides of the bag. I made one light, and one dark so maybe putting things in them would be easier to remember which side pocket. I asked Ria how wide she wanted the divisions in the pockets, drew lines and then top stitched over them. 

Inside pockets and bag bottom removable piece
    On the byAnnie site was a video tutorial on the zipper. It was helpful, but did not show the last step in attaching the zipper pieces to the bag. So, it took three tries (rip, rip, rip) to get it, the lining and the bag attached. I used the glue binding method I learned on Sharon Schamber's site that I use on all my quilts, to attach the binding before sewing. I sewed the binding to the front top edge (glued first), and then ironed and glued the binding to the bag and top stitched in the ditch on the front with invisible YLI thread. Ah, it is done.
Bag without binding and zipper, lining about to be ripped out
Gluing the binding; zipper and lining basted in 1/8" from edge

Binding, lining and zipper attached

   Bottom line- I would not buy the pattern again. The directions and illustrations were not easy to follow. I would make a mockup bag smaller and get all the mistakes made on that. I still have not found a tote that is simple, has a zipper, and has pockets inside and out that I would use. The Soft and Stable made the tote firm, but not stiff, so I would use that again. I would not use buttons again as the purse feet as prescribed in the pattern. 
Sits well with Soft and Stable

With zipper shut

   Now, I just have to get it to Ria. I would hate to crunch it up to mail it to her.


Peg said...

After all that, I think You would be the best designer of your next bag. Learning by making mistakes is the best teacher. Practice makes perfect.

And the bag you did make looks Great!

Linda Swanekamp said...

I think the reason I make so many mistakes is that I want to teach others how to do something without making all these mistakes! I would rather have a great pattern explained so I can make it once, not rip, and move on to making something else. Thanks for the compliment!

Anonymous said...

It's so pretty! And I so appreciate all the time you put in.
<3 Ria