Friday, August 12, 2011

Custom Tote Bag for Becca's Crochet Projects {Gail}

Samantha’s sister Becca is home for a couple weeks, and she had a wish for a bag to carry her yarn projects in. Of course, we couldn’t just have or buy any old bag, we had to make one! She actually had chosen fabric for this in April, and now we had a chance to design and make the bag together.

It had to be: roomy enough for a moderate crochet project; small enough to be reasonable for her mostly-small projects; and with straps long enough to sling over the shoulder and stay there.

We stacked up some yarn skeins, measured, and then calculated. I’ve made a bag or two before, so I soon had the fabric pieces cut and interfaced. I like to use Pellon Décor-bond for tote bags that need to support themselves. It’s wider than regular interfacing –  at 45” across, you don’t run out of width no matter how big the bag is going to be! The only thing about a heavy interfacing is that the pieces have a mind of their own after fusing. You really have to take charge when you are sewing!

Decor-Bond interfacing on the wrong side of the bag, going to be covered up by the yellow lining with pocket soon.

I decided to add a wide pocket to the lining for project books even though Becca didn’t ask for it. It just seemed like something that would be handy.

Three yards of cotton webbing makes the perfect straps for almost any tote bag. Lucky for us, I had the perfect color already on hand so we didn’t have to make another trip to the store.

To make the bag small AND large at the same time, I copied a technique from my favorite diaper bag. There’s a stitched-in crease all around the bag, about 2 1/2” down from the zipper. When a larger project will be carried, the top of the bag can be pulled up, adding much more volume! Most days with small projects, the zipper will be tucked down into the bag. Notice that the ends of the zipper have been mitered off, with ribbon tabs to grip when opening and closing.

See the crease just above the front handle?
The bag folds crisply and easily at that point as you can see below.

The cheery yellow lining only goes up to the crease, not all the way up to the zipper – it was just easier that way.

If you ever want to make a custom bag, first consider the most useful shape and size. Stack your stuff up, experiment with actual boxes or containers, measure, think it through. Bags can be made in any shape and size you want! It’s so nice to have one that exactly meets your needs.

Speaking of which, the whole time I was working on the yarn project bag, Becca was stitching up a messenger bag based on a Green Pepper pattern (that we altered a bit, of course!) She ended up using 4 different fabrics and it’s going to be wonderful – pictures soon!


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