Creating · Totes and Purses

A New Purse/Tote Bag

I went looking for a new purse the other day.  I’m headed up to Utah to help celebrate my father’s 90th birthday and needed a new purse so I won’t embarrass myself with my three other fabulous high-fashion sisters, who buy purses like this:


I suppose I could do that, but it would eat up my fabric budget for about six months a year. I first pawed through the ranks of ho-hum-department-store purses, then saw a few of these:Purse_chips Purse_fringe Purse_milk

My nieces and a few younger quilters thought they were terrific, but when you are up against Prada, you know Betsey Johnson is going to be just too out there.  (But I did kind of like the milk carton.)  I realized that a purse I had purchased in 1988 looked just like the $150 purses on the rack that I liked, I decided to take that one with me.  But at the very least, I still wanted a new tote bag.Totebagblue_1

The fabric is called Geishas and Gingkos from Lonni Rossi, and it’s not only cool on the print side, but I flipped some around for that peek-a-boo pocket in the front, too. It’s probably the first time I haven’t thrown the fabric in the back of the stash cupboard, but instead turned into something current.
Totebagblue_2 Totebagblue_3

I used Two Pretty Poppets Stand Up & Tote Notice, whose name I tried mightily to figure out, but never did.Totebagblue_4 Totebagblue_5

I wasn’t in love with this pattern, but I can’t really fault it in anyway either.  Her directions are pretty good, with lots of photos, but it took me a day of working up my courage to jump in with printing off the PDF, aligning everything, re-tracing it for a pattern (which often didn’t align with the other part of the pattern) to figuring everything out.  It does earn points for that very cool  front pocket, the interesting angled top and pretty good directions.  I wish it had a picture of all the pattern pieces with their names and what to cut out of what; I kept the PDF patterns close by while sewing. You’ll probably have an easier time of it, so give it a try before you pass judgement on it.
Totebagblue_6I couldn’t figure out how big it was in real life, even though the dimensions were all listed.  I found out only later, that the medium (the size I made) was just about 1″ too short to fit my iPad in below the snap closure.  I can get it in sideways, so I’ll probably do that.  I also change up the pockets in all the patterns I make, so mine are a bit different.
Totebagblue_7 Cool front pocket.  I spliced it so I could enjoy the purple flowers from this fabric line, but used the backside of the fabric at the top.
Totebagblue_7aIt calls for foam in the middle.  I used Soft and Stable from ByAnnie.Totebagblue_7bWhen sewing the lining in, I found this problem again: mis-matched size of pattern pieces.  I made it work.  No big deal.

Totebagblue_8So, I’m all ready now except for the fact that I’m now obsessing about what to wear.

8 thoughts on “A New Purse/Tote Bag

  1. Gotta love that milk carton one!!! It just doesn’t look big enough for my needs.
    I love the new tote. The fabrics are perfect and will impress everyone there. Isn’t it frustrating when there are problems with a pattern? It is just so discouraging.

  2. Looks like you did a great job, especially given the “challenges.” 🙂 I generally use a small purse, mostly because I am petite and don’t like lugging something that wants to drag on the floor. I bought a new leather purse at the craft market in Havana, Cuba last week. Not sure what I was thinking other than that I was ready to spend a little money. I like the outside, but there is nothing but a big empty bucket inside. So I may spend the effort to create a lining with a couple of pockets. Not sure how the lining would attach, but I’ll figure something out…

    Very happy birthday to your dad. Please give him a hug for me, as I don’t have dads to hug anymore. ❤

  3. Handbags are like vacuum cleaners for me: no one makes just the perfect one and yet I keep hunting! Loved the funky ones you found – the Betsy Johnson was my fav – but your direction was probably the best. I’m way more likely to notice someone’s clothing than their purse! Loved the tote and isn’t Soft and Stable wonderful? I used it on 2 bags this summer and fell in love – gives the perfect structure. Enjoy your dad’s birthday – please wish him Happy Birthday for me! – and remember: it’s all about him on his day !!

  4. The tote is wonderful! I’ve never used foam in any bag I’ve made……ill keep that in mind for the next one. I’ve loved Lonni Rossi’s fabric for many years! Always so soothing.
    Happy birthday to your Dad! My Dad, turned 94 yesterday! So blessed to still have them with us!
    SewHappy, K

  5. I love your version of the bag, the colours are gorgeous. It’s name comes from the phrase ‘stand up and take (tote) notice’. I’m guessing the designer is from the UK where a purse is for money and you put that in your bag (hand or shoulder bag) Unless you are a man and your money goes in a wallet!
    It’s tough finding what you want sometimes and making it yourself is the solution. My last two purses, for money!, were from a pattern by Pink Penguin

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