Girly Tote

A recently-finished cute tote

A recently-finished cute tote

Ages ago I posted about some fabric I picked up and a tote I’d seen in Essentials in Invermere, and I wanted to show that not ALL of my fabric goes straight into ‘the stash’.. some of it actually DOES get made up!

The original


First off I really liked the use of pattern and colour in the original tote I’d seen – I also liked the vaguely vintage feel to the curved corners too.  I remembered a purse/bag designer that I had really liked some of the patterns of – Lazy Girl Designs as well.  I really like the functionality of the Margo bag, but the two ideas seem really different. The original is actually a lot more like an Amy Butler pattern I later realized.

Lazy Girl’s Margo handbag

So, I looked around some more for design inspiration…  Basically my criteria:

  • A zippered tote that doesn’t need to be zippered to retain it’s shape
  • Outside pockets for fast-store things like water bottles or pens that I wouldn’t worry about if I lost them (either due to pick pockets or having the bag turned upside-down)
  • Inside zippered pockets for hidden important things
  • Inside key clip
  • Inside patch-type pockets to keep things organized
  • Sturdy, fairly wide handles, long enough to hook over my shoulder, but short enough to generally just be held in my hand
  • Big enough to carry my lunch, paper work, tea, etc to work – plus my purse in a pinch.
  • Small enough so I don’t over-load it and hurt myself carrying it, instead of shifting things into a backpack!
  • Potentially washable.  (Not as big of a deal, but a nice-to-have.)

I selected this photo of the Margo purse for inspiration because the person who made it added the zipper, and if you follow the links – some cool interior pockets for organization – a lot of the other photos of the Margo don’t really show the zipper option.

Studio Kat’s Quattro handbag

In my design-inspiration search, I also found the Quattro Pattern from Studio Kat designs – which I also really liked (the style at least.. the colours in this example are a bit much for my muted tastes!) This one doesn’t zip closed though, but I thought between the three examples, I could design something that would work for me. (Lots of other inspiration photos on my Pinterest board – created after I started this project.)


I would love to say that I totally thought this one through, drafted patterns and all of the rest for the bag before I made it up – but no.  I just opened Adobe Illustrator on my laptop, and started drawing out shapes.  I don’t have a printer upstairs (and the basement was still renovation-hell) so I went straight to fabric for this one. I had the fabrics I picked up at Essentials, along with a few others from Freckles, and then it was just a matter of figuring out which ones I really wanted to use for this project!


I had 1m of the fashion fabric, 1m of the pocket fabric, and .5m of the top band fabric.


So, if you want to make one too, here’s what I did.

Fashion fabric & lining

I used the same fabric for both – a pink and tan stripe.

  1. Cut 4 rectangles as tall as the bag (plus the base) and twice as wide, PLUS seam allowances on all sides.
  2. Interface the fashion fabric.
  3. Sew the side seams of the lining and the fashion fabric.
  4. I added a twill tape reinforcement along the seams, and top stitched the seams to hold the twill tape in place.

Outer pocket & lining

I used the great corset & dressmaking tan fabric for both.

  1. Cut 4 rectangles as tall and just slightly wider than the above rectangles, plus seam allowance on all sides.
  2. Cut the bottom of the purse pockets to equal the base fabric (for the base of the bag), cut out the curves and taper the side seams.
  3. Sew the side seams together for the pocket and the pocket lining.  (I actually did this later, and should have done it at this stage…)

the trim on the “curve” after being top stitched

Curve trim

I used some remaining striped fabric for this. This is totally optional, and you could also do it as bias trim if you wanted.

  1. Cut some strips of bias from the fabric, sew them together, fold, and stitch with the raw edges together to the curves of just the outer pocket fabric, within the seam allowance.
  2. Sew the pockets together, right sides together, along the curves.
  3. You don’t need to stitch the top or bottom – they’ll be handled later.
  4. Turn the pocket right-side-out, and top stitch the curves.

Top band

I used a darker pink fabric for this.

  1. Cut a long rectangle that is twice the height of the finished band, twice as long as the top of the purse, plus seam allowances.
  2. Interface
  3. Sew the side-seam

Shoulder straps

I used the striped fabric for this.

  1. From some of the remaining fashion fabric, cut two very long rectangles to make the straps.  Length and width your choice.
  2. Sew tubes with the fabric, turn inside out, press flat and pull through wide twill tape.
  3. Top stitch straps to hold twill tape in place.

The patch pocket on the fashion fabric. I matched the stripes so it would blend in nicely, but left the fabric label (selvage) on because I thought it would be cute. The way the pocket is aligned, only the top right hand corner will show – I’ll only see the label if I go looking for it.

Outside pen-pocket

I used some left-over striped fabric for this.

  1. Construct a pocket by folding fabric in half, and sewing and turning.  Press.
  2. Lay the outer pocket on top of the fashion fabric (the interfaced one) with the side seams of the fashion fabric moved to the middle (so that there wont’ actually be side seams).  Mark pocket placement.
  3. Top-stitch pocket in place.

Trimming off the triangle on the bottom of the bag

Bag base

  1. Layer the outer pocket around the fashion fabric, with the seams of the fashion fabric in the middle of the pocket (so they won’t be seen).
  2. Turn the bag (as one unit) inside-out.
  3. Sew the bottom seam.
  4. You could theoretically just leave it at this point, but I like  rectangular base so the bag will stand up a bit on it’s own.  To do so, turn one side of the bag so that the side seam lines up with the bottom seam, and sew across – basically sewing a triangle into the bottom of the bag.  Trim this off, and repeat for the other side.

The outside of the bottom of the bag

Inner pockets

Since I hate wasting fabric, I used the fabric left over from the curved cut outs.  You can make basic patch pockets however you want, but here’s what I did.

  1. Along the straight edges of the 8 curved pieces, sew them together in four pairs, sewing all the way down on two, and leaving a hole in the middle of the other two. Press seam allowances open.
  2. Sew right sides together, turn through the hole, press.
  3. Hand-stitch the hole closed.  If you aren’t’ fussy about how this looks, you can also just top-stitch it closed.

Curved pockets. The example on the right has a topstitched opening, while the example on the left is hand stitched. (Just to show you options)

Attaching the inner pockets

For this I layered them to get a better use of space within the bag.  Plus I think it’s cute.  Mostly I did it because it’s cute.

  1. Just like the outside pen pocket, these were just sewn on patch-pocket style.  Put the one on top FIRST, and watch out that where the second one sits the stitching wont interfere with the pocket below it.

curved patch pockets

Zippered inner pocket

  1. These were assembled first, the zipper ends were covered with self-fabric, and then they were sewn on patch-pocket style too.

two zippered pockets with the zippers mirroring one another

Zipper gusset

I cut the gusset extra-long so that the tails can sit inside the bag for extra security.

I cut out four of a long rectangle with a small flange on the rectangle.  The ‘tails’ are finished on all edges, while the flange will sit inside the seam allowance to insert the gusset into the bag.

Zipper Gusset

Key clip

I made two key clips using spring retract clips and a narrow turned and stitched band of the fabric, inserted between the top band and the top of the purse under the zipper gusset.

Finishing steps

I ended up pausing on this bag, and actually kind of forgot about it. Over the winter holiday break I got inspired to pick up a few of my older projects (like the quilts I showed off not too long ago) and finish them off.  I put the zipper gusset to the top of the bag, along with the straps, and topped off the bag with the top band. This was carefully stitched down, and then I also did a line of top-stitching to secure the straps to the top of the bag.


That  cute little side pen-pocket in action. (It's big enough for more than a pen of course!)

That cute little side pen-pocket in action. (It’s big enough for more than a pen of course!)

So here’s the completed version! It’s super cute, and very girly.  It fits all of my criteria too – I can use the big outer pockets for quick things, leaving the bag zipped closed, or open up the zipper and access all of the inside pockets too.

Pink tote ready to go!

Pink tote ready to go!


Pottery gifts

Beautiful purple and blue bowl

Beautiful purple and blue bowl

I mentioned back in November about a pottery show I attended, where I picked up a few of my holiday gifts – WAY in advance. Now that the holidays have passed, and I’ve given away most of the gifts (… and for those I missed catching up with before the holidays.. just pretend to be surprised!)

For gifts I bought:

  • A gorgeous purple and blue bowl
  • A fantastic blue/green teapot
  • A lovely blue/brown mug
  • …. and then, just for me – I bought a blue, black, and red bowl.

Continue reading

I’m still not a ‘purple-person’ – fabric and metal cuff

Purple fabric, rhinestone, and metal cuff bracelet

Purple fabric, rhinestone, and metal cuff bracelet

A while back I posted some jewelry that I made using really pretty pieces from Michael’s craft stores – rhinestone and metal elements. I kept one of the bracelets as a work-in-progress while I waited to find the right fabric to go with it.

Previewing fabric

I found some fabric at Fabricland during one of their 50% off sales, and picked out two different fabrics. I had thought I might use them together, but when I showed them off to some friends, they all agreed that the satin on the left was a better choice than the lighter purple shot stretch silk on the right.

Once the base of the bracelet/cuff was assembled, I took a strip of the darker purple satin three times the length of the bracelet, and did a tiny narrow hem on all four sides.  Then I pleated the fabric, and held the pleats in place with pins (not pressing the pleats though, since I wanted a softer effect) and then sewed it down through the centre.  Then I attached the bracelet to the fabric by hand, and added on magnetic clasps to make the cuff easy to put on and take off.

Purple fabric, rhinestone, and metal cuff bracelet close up showing pleating

Purple fabric, rhinestone, and metal cuff bracelet close up showing pleating

I think the overall effect is VERY dramatic – it’s not really an every-day kind of piece, but will be fun to wear as something bold and pretty… but I’m still not a “purple person”!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Purple fabric, rhinestone, and metal cuff bracelet laid flat

Purple fabric, rhinestone, and metal cuff bracelet laid flat

Migrating purple geese quilt

"Migrating Flying Geese" quilt top in purples, pinks, and greys from the Jelly Roll fabric selection

“Migrating Flying Geese” quilt top in purples, pinks, and greys from the Jelly Roll fabric selection

After getting well under way with the Modified French Braid quilt, I started work on the quilt using the purples and dark pinks from the Moda Jelly Rolls that I had picked up.

Like the other quilt, I got my pattern/idea from Pinterest, rather than going back to the Jelly Roll ideas I had pondered back in December 2011 when I first was interested in Jelly Roll fabric collections. Of course, the problem with just looking at pretty pictures instead of actual quilt patterns, is that I don’t really know the names of any of the patterns, or have any of the techniques – so I sort of have to make them up myself!

Continue reading

Returning to Dressew

Rolls of fabric inside Dressew

Rolls of fabric inside Dressew

In December I headed to Vancouver for a short visit, (to see Canadian alternative rock band Moist on their Resurrection reunion tour) and while I was there I had to pop into Dressew for a quick (well… 2 hours…) visit and shopping trip. While I spent a lot of time debating getting some very bulky (and not suitcase-friendly) wool coating, I thought I’d share a few photos with you of the shop. You can also go back to one of my earlier posts about Dressew to learn more and to see more photos.

Address: 337 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H6
Phone:(604) 682-6196


I can’t post about Moist without posting a photo as well! This is Mark Makoway, the guitar player for the band.

Mark from Moist

Mark from Moist


Want more?

Want more photos of Dressew or a few more thoughts on this shop? Visit the Sewaholic blog, this post at Thimble, Vancouver is Awesome, a heads-up from Got Craft about Dressew’s Anniversary Sale (back in 2011, but maybe they’ll keep having sales in the first week of February?), or this post on Miso Crafty when the author travelled from Vancouver Island to Vancouver for a shopping trip.