I’m still looking for the perfect bag for my sewing classes. This time everybody is going to sew the same one, so we can focus on sewing skills and not on the design and this time we are going to sew…..the Purl Bee Everyday Tote.
So, as any good teacher, I did my home work and sew it before the class, to know what to expect.
In fact I made two, one with yellow strips and another with pink. I used Kona cotton for the black bottoms and for the strips. For the body I used canvas, only a very heavy one. I think it could be done by a beginner, but we will see.
Did I talked about my canvas yet? I think I didn’t, and probably this is a good time to start. Canvas is one of the fabrics that I love most, but quite difficult to come by in Tel Aviv. I wonder if it has to be with its weight, canvas is a heavy fabric, and that means expensive shipment fees (fabric comes to Israel from China, India and other far away countries, I don’t think we produce any fabric, correct me if I’m wrong). The only places they had (Goldshtein in Nahalt Benyamin was one of them) it was by chance, is not a fabric that they carry normally.
At the end I asked this amazing guy , and he told me where to get wholesale, so, without much thinking, I got 50 meter of heavy weight canvas. The roll weighs over 100 kg, and carrying it was quite an ordeal. I was told is a 525 gr (wich should mean 525 gr per meter square), that means that is a cotton duck #1, the heaviest of all! In hindsight maybe I should have got a lighter one, but on the other hand, this canvas has the texture and body of leather. When I open the bag on a table it hold it’s shape. It’s gorgeous.
My machine can handle it, but barely (just about two layers), so the Purl Bee Every Day tote was perfect, because they do all the finishing with bias and there is no need to fold the canvas.
This bag also has a dark bottom, which keeps the tote clean for longer , and it’s prettier on the inside, which is my preference for bags. The original fabric for the bottom is a yarn dyed linen, I do not have such fancy fabric, so I went for black Kona and it is good.
I did not have cotton webbing (is in my list of things to get, any advice of who may carry it ? ) and I was puzzled on how to make handles with my thick canvas. What I did is to cut a strip of 2 inches (5 cm) and fold it with the iron in a way that the fabric meets in the middle of the back, and then I just sew it together with a zigzag stitch. It is not perfect, my machine zigzag is not very wide, so in some places it missed some of the fabric and had to sew it again. Maybe a better solution will be to put a strip of bias, or overlap them a little bit. It looks great though, with the double zigzag.
In the picture it can be seen why I need to double zigzag it.
I also did not had that pretty bias that they carry at Purl Bee, the one that I got in Tel Aviv is bad quality, bleeds and wears very quickly. So I cut strips from my lovely Kona cotton, but on the grain, not on the bias. There are not curves in the bag, so there is no reason to use bias.
At the beginning I though that because the required bias in the tutorial is 3/4 inch I should cut a strip of 1 1/2 inch, but it was very difficult to sew it on my thick canvas. Then I tried with strips of 2 inches and worked like a charm. I did not used pins and with one seam I managed to catch both sides of the “bias”. Actually I think that the name for the strips is “binding” given that they are cut on the grain, the way that you cut strips to finish a quilt. I do not have (yet) a bias maker , but because the binding is quite wide, it was easy to fold and iron.
I got the strips for the binding from a 1/4 yard (25 cm) of Kona, and the bottom pieces are 25 cm tall and 55 cm wide, so the total cost of the Kona for this project is between 36 to 44 shequels ( but then there will be enough for two bags, I mean, you need to get two half meters to get the color contrast)
Half meter of canvas is enough for the bag (even counting the handles), that is about 30 shequels, though it could be cheaper.
The cost for the Purl Bee is about $42, which is not that much when you start talking about linen and organic and all that stuff.
I made a beginner mistake with one of the bags: I did not wash the canvas. It so heavy, that washing it is not fun, but shrinks a lot, so I have no idea what is going to happen when I’ll wash the bag with the pink stripe.
A good thing about this design is that more pockets can be added to the bag. I added a long pocket in the yellow one (the big rectangle is 11″x8″, the small 8″x8″), that is enough for a bottle, and when the bag is standing the bottle reaches the bottom of the bag and also stands, though it could be an inch longer.
I have been using the bag for the pool. Is on the small side for three people going to the pool, but on the other hand it fits exactly in the basket of my bike, so it’s close to perfection. I think I will make another one with more pockets.
Here you can see how the bag holds it shapes standing on it’s bottom, after a few trips to the pool.