Sunday, 25 May 2014

sew sunday2 - oversized tote bag

Item Made - Oversized Tote Bag
Time Taken - Elaine Paige on Sunday on BBC Radio2 (just over 2 hours, not including ironing time)

As you can see - I couldn't wait to get started with the new fabric I bought yesterday! I planned on starting my skirt today too, but about 2 and a half hours of sewing is enough for me in one go!
I bought this material intending to make another storage bag for my yarn overflow, and after trawling through my books and the internet, I found a straightforward looking tote bag tutorial on Craftbuds.

miniature heroes - today's sewing snack of choice
The sizes the tutorial gives are suggested for shopping bags, but I had in mind an oversized bag mainly used for storage and so I increase the measurements by about 5 inches - and I ended up with a rather large bag!

The tutorial is very easy to follow, clear and concise and the end product was certainly satisfactory. However I am both simultaneously proud and disappointed with the finished product.

This is entirely down to my own skills as a sewer, and the fact that I was using a pattern that was intended for on thing (a shopping tote) for another (a storage tote). Firstly, as I started cutting out my outer and lining fabric and putting the pieces together, I started to wonder if I could make this bag good enough to use for shopping as well as storage - this was my first mistake, as having started with the idea and size of a storage bag this was not going to be possible no matter how good I made it, and I set myself up for disappointment.

Secondly although a lot of my sewing was as good as I have ever got it (I was particularly proud of some top stitching along the bottom of the bag) there was enough that I struggled with to make me feel that the finished product didn't quite have that clean-cut feel. I don't usually worry about that sort of thing, but I was aiming very high today, and so again perhaps I set myself up for disappointment.

Finally the bag doesn't have the rigidity I envisioned when purchasing the fabric. I am taking this as a lesson learnt however - if I want a sturdy 'stand up' bag be prepared to buy much stiffer fabric (I was eyeing up some carpet-bag-type fabric yesterday in the shop, but it lost out to the lovely John Lewis print you see above). Yet the colours and print of the bag have made up for this.

I do take some comfort in the fact that the bag looks ten times better once actually filled with yarn (as was its intended purpose) and so I am pleased with the result, but disappointed as it hasn't met my expectations. The tutorial however is spot on - thoroughly recommend it for beginners and advanced sewers alike looking to make a bag - and so I feel cheerful that I will try this again with different motives/materials, having learnt what I need to get my desired result.

I had thought afterwards to cheer myself up baking some choc-chip shortbread, but unfortunately I burnt it in the oven while defeating a boss on Ni No Kuni - not been my day...

No matter! What crafty-things have you been up to that didn't quite meet expectations/you have mixed feelings about?


  1. This bag is lovely! It looks lovely with the yarn in, and without! I know what you mean though about setting high standards for yourself, it's always hard to meet them, especially as a beginner. But again, this bag is lovely!

    1. thanks! yeah got to set those standards high though to improve, double edged sword really but heyho as long as we enjoy what we are trying to do then all is well! So even though I was a little disappointed in it, it was great spending the time making it :)

  2. Love this fabric! Your bag looks fab - I am a recovering perfectionist & struggle with things not living up to my expectations but you made a beautiful bag that does what it's supposed to do - well done you! Look forward to seeing the skirt! Stopped by from #bedm
    Bee Happy and Healthy

    1. thanks Clare :) good fabric really helps when making stuff like this, can give you that satisfaction even if your(my) sewing is quite up to scratch - practice practice practice eh? :) thanks for finding me via #BEDM too, will have a nosey at your blog too :)

  3. I made a tote bag the other day. I didn't follow a tutorial I just made it up as I went along. Along it was nice and it was a neatly finished item, I just wasn't quite sure about it!! So I know exactly what you mean about being proude and disappointed all in one go! However, I love your bag, it looks great and the fabric is fab. I guess you have to chalk it up to experience and try again another day! :0) xx

  4. Apologies for the spelling mistakes in my previous comment. I was trying to post from my phone whilst having a very lazy morning in bed!!!!

    1. ah ah well thanks for apologising, I totally would have overlooked it :p and thanks for your kind words! oh sweet you didn't even follow a tutorial! I'm starting to make more things from my brain rather than patterns and tutorials, but like you say I gotta keep on practicing and get that experience built up and then i'll get better :) the fabric is really splendid, I would really suggest having a look on the website I linked if you like it - it will be under screen printed fabric and it was actually a John Lewis one - BARGAIN :)