Improv Tote: Finished!

OMG! I finished something! And it’s made purely from stuff in my stash! What’s more is that although it’s not perfect, I’m OK with it! Miracle. So, picking up where we left off…

Tarting It Up for the Big Day

As you recall, this Vivienne Westwood tote bag was sort of what I was aiming for. And I briefly flirted with the idea of finding a similarly graphic print and image transfer using one of those printable transfer paper or image transfer medium.

But it seemed way too much hassle. Especially with the fabric being faux suede, I wasn’t sure that (a) the image would transfer well, and (b) the fabric could handle the heat required. So I resorted to my tried and tested Jacquard Lumiere 561 Metallic Gold Fabric PaintJacquard Lumiere Fabric Paint.

Next question is what design.

Derwentwater Golden Hearts Blackwork Embroidery KitI wanted something stylized, and thought this Derwentwater Blackwork Embroidery design would look great. Boy was I over ambitious or what. On the faux suede I just couldn’t get fine enough a line to attempt anything so complicated. (I do love these Elizabethan looking blackwork embroidery kits though – I have 6 of the 7 Derwentwater kits. One of these days I will find a way to incorporate them into my fashion sewing. Just you wait!)


Ambition hampered, I went back to variations of the royal orbs. I ended up with this slightly wonky VW style orb.  I threw in a few more flourishes inspired by the real deals to compensate for the lack of fancy branding.

What do you think? Chav enough for you?

Coming Altogether Now

Next up, sewing the bag and lining bottoms together.

WIP-17Zipper foot came in handy for getting as close to the seam line as possible without being hampered by the bulk of the bag and lining.

I sewn three sides first, then inserted a piece of 7-count plastic canvas to stiffen the bag bottom. I got this tip from U Handbag’s great bag-making tutorial blog.

The last side is then sewn up, and the bag flipped right-side-out over the lining.


The top of the lining is then sewn to the underside of the zipper. (I slip-stitched it by hand for better control, then edge stitched again for reinforcement.)


I stitched across both ends of the zipper before covering the ends with faux leather tabs like Longchamp Le Pliage tote bags.

Now the tabs, what a pain they turned out to be!


With faux leather on both sides and a bit of bulk in-between, they were rather difficult to sew on the machine, even with tissue paper underneath to help the feed dog feed properly.

In the end I resorted to hand sewing. So thank God for my thimble and hand-sewing needle grabber.Hand sewing needle grabber

I would have had blood spilled on my lovely new bag otherwise trying to cajole the needle through the bulk – and the gunk from the double-sided tape!

WIP-22The resulting tabs aren’t brilliant. With my thin and somewhat stretchy faux leather you can see the zipper bulk striking through clearly. Longchamp Le Pliage tote bags tabs also shows a bit of bulk, but with proper leather and professional stitching they stick out much less like a sore thumb.

But you know what, who in real life is going to get close enough to notice this little blemish? So for once I’m declaring this project Plenty Good Enough!

So here you go, the finished result:

Done-01 Done-03 Done-04

What do you think? Good enough for a Gym & Grocery Bag? 🙂

0 comments on “Improv Tote: Finished!

  1. I totally love your choice of color and materials; your bag creation is fantastic! I would be thrilled to carry it anywhere! Great work!

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