Months back I decided to make a tote bag for my son’s teacher. We chose the fabric together and made a cute little bag with hand prints and polka dots. It came together very easily, even with a few mistakes I made with the handles, and in two days I had a cute little tote bag ready to be filled with nice teacher gifts like a bath salts, a relaxing face mask, some cute nail polish, and some sunscreen for the summer.
The bag was so easy that I decided, with the left over scraps, to make one for myself! I’ve recently applied to be a substitute teacher again (after 7 years of working behind a desk) so I figured I could use an adorable teacher’s bag, too!
I made this bag a little bigger and the straps a little longer (a little too long in fact) but with the same polka dot lining and the handprints. And I was determined to have a finished product this week so I could prove to myself that just taking a little time each day to sew can take an item from beginning to end in a short amount of time. I have a bad habit of leaving started projects to languish in limbo for long periods of time.
As much as I was on a roll and in the mood to sew, I was definitely not in the right state of mind because I made a LOAD of mistakes. First, I made a strap out of the handprint material. Then I realized I didn’t have enough to make a second strap. So I headed to JoAnns and got some more handprint material to make the second strap. Well, I realized I was so hasty in making the first one I didn’t measure it so I had to guess how wide to make the second strap. When I had both done, I put them side to side and realized they were not the same. The first was wider so I ended up making a third strap, this time the same size as the second. Whoops!
Then it came time to attached the straps to the two bags. I trimmed a bit off of each end to make them shorter (but still not short enough) and I also trimmed a bit off the bag so that it wouldn’t be this massively deep bag where everything gets lost. I pinned 3 inches from the seams and attached my handles from the INSIDE this time. This was an area I had issues with the first time I made this bag because I kept attaching the handles wrong.
I got a little frustrated with the bags as I was sewing the initial seam around the top. The lining and outer bag did NOT want to stay together. But I kept at it and got to the point where I was ready to turn everything inside out so that it was ready for the last seam around the top to close everything up.
TADA!!!! The handles are on the right way, CHECK! The bags are lined up pretty well, CHECK!!! Now it was time to sew around the top to give it that finished look and to close up the hole I used to turn the material out.
This proved to be a bit tricky. I’m not sure what I did but my handles got all entangled and wrapped around my machine. I got lucky though and my straps were long enough that it didn’t keep me from finishing it up. Tangles and all, the bag was finished!!
Except that the handles were WAY too long and I think I still put them on wrong. Damn! I feel the handles would work better attached differently but I could live with that issue. I could have also lived with the too long straps but I decided to make a quick trim and take a bit off the top of each handle and just live with a seam at the top of each strip. It’s not as clean but now I’ll be more likely to use it.
So what can I take away from this experience. Firstly, to measure twice, cut once. Secondly, to slow down. Mistakes get made when you are rushing through things and in the end you spend more time fixing your mistakes. I’m still learning the ins and outs of sewing but I’m happy to say I’m more confident in my abilities. I made this bag before and was able to make it again with minor mistakes, all of them livable and that makes me thrilled!! Another finished product in the bag (har har)…
With this reversible tote pattern in mind and with my confidence in my abilities to finish a project that I’ve started, I think it would be cool to hit up JoAnns again and get some comic book fabric for a Marvel bag, don’t you think??