Monday, 14 January 2013

My First Project - the Tote Bag

Good Evening Ladies and Gents,

With the sewing machine fully threaded and my test stitches a success, I wanted to have a go on my first project. My bundle of fabric had arrived from Fabric Rehab (they are totally gorgeous) and I had decided to make a tote bag. I choose a tote bag for the simple reason that my husbandy and my rollers do not get on very well, especially when he stands on one at 3am with bare feet, so I thought a cute little tote bag to keep them all together would be a great idea! I trawled through 'You Tube' looking for a tutorial that was clear and concise and was not too simple, yet not too hard. I found this one called 'How to Sew an Easy/Simple Shoulder Tote Bag (Tutorial) - It's a Cinch!' by tlcinspirations - link below:

I got my pins, scissors, tape measures, chalk, ruler and fabric ready and measured my fabric. I marked my fabric to the following dimensions:

  • Outer fabric - 10inch x 18inch
  • Lining - 9.5inch x 18inch
  • Ties - 2inch x 18inch

I marked it clearly and cut along the fabric. Tip: I would recommend not to cut the fabric on the floor. I found my lines were not as straight as they could have been but I have definitely selected the right pair of scissors as they glided through the fabric. With my slightly skew-whiff fabric I had all my pieces ready so I set the sewing machine roaring! I was in my element watching the needle glide seamlessly through the fabric leaving a trail of neat stitches behind - oh the satisfaction!

Now I'm not going to give you a full blown account on the steps as you can watch the tutorial for yourself. To personalise the bag I did alter a few things, e.g. I made the bag quite a lot smaller, had straight ties instead of angular ends and no runners up the side plus had lots of fun as I went along as I think the lady giving the tutorial (although very clear and concise) doesn't sound like she is enjoying it! I had quite a few bobbin issues, tensions issues, unpicking issues and the pressure foot falling off twice (tip: always have the manual handy) but I persevered and it took me approx. three hours in total to make my bag. I was impressed considering I hadn't sewn since 1996 and had no one to assist when things kept going wrong. In some ways I actually enjoyed the fluff ups as I think I understand the machine better and know I have more patience than I thought.

I now am the proud owner of a tote bag that has given my rollers a home - I 'm sure the odd one or two will make a run for it but hopefully my husbandy's bare feet won't find them!

The excitement this one project has given me is inspiring. It is making me think about myself in a whole new way and no doubt I will learn a great deal more about me - and maybe even sewing! I think the key thing is that even though I ran in to difficulties I persevered and managed to solve the problem calmly and logically. This may seem normal to some of you reading this, but when things go wrong - and normally with an electrical appliance - my logic goes out the window and a hammer is the usual course of action. Maybe because I really want this project to work I want to understand the basics and learn how to do it right rather than rush through it and think 'that'll do'. Who knows, but what I do know is this - there will be plenty more sewing projects and I think I all ready know what....

Hints and tips
  • Again be patient - I had to unpick the same work twice but I knew I had to have it right and also it made very good practice
  • Also have the manual and a good sewing book to hand
  • Bobbins - Firstly the check you have enough thread in the bobbin - I ran out and was not impressed and secondly make sure you wind the bobbin up correctly - ensure you snap the thread into the bobbin threader as this will guarantee you get the right tension on the thread in
  • Always have an unpicker at hand - it saved the day and also a lot of time
  • Cut the fabric on a table or on a firm surface - this will help when cutting and keep the lines straight
  • Next on the shopping list is a wooden metre rule and a fabric cutter - this will also help keep the lines straight!


  1. Great work! I was only just thinking I need to make a little bag for my rollers. I found one in the hallway the other day. Love the fabric choices!

  2. Congrats on embarking on a sewing adventure!! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! -Laurie

  3. Well done! I will be hosting a giveaway for an Eliza M pattern next week x

  4. Thanks for all the great comments ladies!