Tote Bag Experiments

I’ve talked before about my group of friends who go on quarterly quilt retreats.  We do a lot of sewing, and I mainly work on piecing quilts, but everyone else is very skilled at making bags and totes.  They make at least one bag each retreat, and they are so good that they often just make bags using their own design.  One of my local quilt shops recently posted a photo on Instagram of a cool bag  so I decided to try out bag making during our April retreat.

I went to that local shop and bought a bunch of supplies.  I love the Rifle paper company flowers and I really wanted to try out some cork.  I found this really great bundle of colored cork – I actually only wanted the tan one.  Then, since I had 3 pieces of cork I had to buy more fabric, so at the end of the day…I bought a lot of supplies!

I bought the Wool + Wax PDF pattern from Noodlehead – because I am not good enough to make up my own patterns.  I also really liked how the leather handles and rivets looked on the Noodlehead pattern samples, so I found a rivet kit and 1″ wide leather straps on Amazon and ordered those.  This project truly became the epitome of a positing I saw online – why buy something for $7 when you can make it using only $95 in craft supplies!

I made a first tote sticking pretty carefully to the pattern.  The pattern called pretty thin interfacing so my first bag didn’t have a ton of structure.  The fabric is canvas, which I think the pattern assumed would provide enough structure.  The bag looks pretty good, but it is pretty floppy:

My retreat buddies are big believers in stiffer interfacing – both Peltex and either Bosal or Annie’s Soft and Stable.  For my next two bags I used the Peltex and Annie’s.  They were pretty thick and stiff to work with, but I think the bags came out much better.  This is a side by side photo of 2 bags made with the same materials, but the one on the right has the stiffer interfacing:

After making the bags I had to get up the courage to punch holes in them to add decorative rivets and use the rivets to attach the leather straps.  The tools that came with the rivet kits from Amazon weren’t great, but a friend had a scrapbooking eyelet punch that did the trick really well.  The hole puncher is very good, and the pliers to crimp the rivets work really well.  The pliers can bend the rivet so you have to be kind of careful, but I think the ease of crimping them together vs. using a hammer makes it worth the crimping risk.  In some cases I had problems even getting the hammer/anvil set-up in to the space I wanted to set the rivet, so the pliers did the trick.

I meant to buy a little extra fabric to make my bags wider, but I accidentally bought essentially double the fabric…so I bought MORE cork and made MORE bags!

These are the original 3 bags:

I posted the second peach one above, and here is a photo of the 2nd black one.  I gave the first black one to my mom for Mother’s Day:

This is a close up of the blue one.  I’ve made a 2nd one of this guy too, but I don’t have the handles yet to finish the bag.  I’ve been using this bag for work for a bit over a month and it is holding up really well.

Here are some close ups of the insides.  I really like how the pink polka dots look on the inside of the black one:

The peach one just has a pretty neutral interior:

Believe it or not, I still have a bit of fabric left.  The interior pockets are open inside the bag so I’m considering making a little wallet or zippy pouch to put in the pocket so things don’t fall out.  We’ll see if I get up the motivation to figure that out!

I also found more cork in really pretty blue and green colors, as well as some canvas fabric on Amazon.  This will be the next bag, with a blue bottom.  I’m still looking for a perfect fabric to go with the green!

I enjoyed making these bags and really love the end result.  However now I have more bags than I’ll ever know what to do with!

Link Ups:

  • This was a finish on my Q2’19 FAL list so I will be posting it on the FAL linky at the end of the quarter.
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