It’s that time of year, again. Festivals, farmers’ markets, fleamarkets, and just plain fun-in-the-sun, they all mean it’s time to switch up to a big tote. I found the perfect pattern and the perfect fabric and … voila! Let Summer begin!
You guys know I’m a sucker for bags but I usually go in for smaller, drawstring-type bags. I’m not one to carry around a lot of baggage, literal or figurative. But when Summer rolls ’round, it’s a whole different ballgame.
During the winter all I need is my debit card, my driver’s license and my phone. Most of the time I just drop them in my pocket and don’t even bother with a bag. But during the summer there’s sunscreen, a bottle of water, and an actual wallet to carry real cash cuz they don’t accept debit cards at fleamarkets and those little roadside farm stands.
What I was looking for
I wanted a large tote but I didn’t want it to look like one of those grocery tote bags. I wanted it to have some kind of unique design. I also wanted it to have some structure to it. I love making bags but I don’t want them to look handmade. At first glance I want people to think, “What a cute bag! I wonder where she got it.”
To avoid that “handmade” look I also wanted handles of some sort, not a drawstring closure and not just a couple of fabric strips sewn to the side of the bag. I haven’t really found a ready-made handle that I like yet so I knew the handles would have to be made from fabric.
The problem I have with a big tote is they’re usually a big open space and everything gets all jumbled around inside. So I was also looking for a pattern that would allow me to compartmentalize my stuff. Not that I carry a lot of stuff, I just want to be able to find it when I need it.
My final requirement was that the pattern had to be one that would highlight the fabric. I knew I wanted to use at least 3 different prints (I’m trying to learn how to mix colors and patterns) and I wanted all of them to be visible on the outside of the bag.
Sounds like I was being pretty picky, doesn’t it? And you’re right – I was. If I was going to carry it around all summer it had to be just the right bag.
Butterick Pattern B5658 for the WIN!
This tote pattern from Butterick is exactly what I was looking for. It has two huge pockets, one on each side. One of these pockets alone is large enough to hold everything I normally carry so the fact that there are two is a huge bonus!
It’s a structured bag, not just a whip-it-up-quick drawstring bag. In fact, I actually spent a couple of hours just studying the pattern before I even started cutting it out. Not because it’s complicated, because it isn’t. It’s a fairly easy pattern to follow.
One word of caution…
I didn’t realize it until I got it home but this pattern calls for home dec fabric, which makes sense. It’s a large bag. If you want it to stand up on it’s own it’s going to take some fabric with a little weight behind it.
But you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. I really wanted to use these cotton prints so I just ironed on some fusible interfacing to every piece before I started sewing. Worked like a charm!