Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Braided Handle Tote Bag

Last year, I accompanied a friend to St. Charles, Illinois to pick up an eBay purchase.  Of course, we HAD to shop while we were there.  In one very high-end boutique, I stopped to admire an interesting Tote Bag.  It had a curved top edge...and some amazing self-fabric handles...braided, they were.  Now, when I'm out and about, I'm always on the lookout for ideas I can swipe inspiration for my sewing projects.  And this bag intrigued me.  So...I made a quick little sketch...filed it away in my billfold...and promptly forgot about it.

Then, a few months later...I found these gorgeous fabrics on sale at one of my favorite local quilt shops.  They're from Amy Butler's LOVE collection...in my favorite color combo to wear...violet and green.  (The green is showing up quite minty here...but it's actually more of a Jade-ite color...my camera does NOT like green.)  I knew I wanted to make a bag, but I just couldn't come up with a design.  I've made hundreds of Tote Bags in my "career" and I'd grown tired of the same ol' same ol'.  Then, I remembered the Tote I had seen earlier...and decided I wanted to try to make one like it.

It took a little finagling to draft the pattern...several tries to get the curved top just right...and then there was the matter of how to attach the handles.  But once I got things figured out, it went together quite smoothly...and I'm pretty pleased with the result.

The handles are corded...and covered in bias fabric strips.  I haven't done much of this...and had to keep referring to my trusty Singer sewing book to make sure I did it right.  Even then, I had a few missteps along the way...like not cutting the cording long enough (it has to be TWICE the length of the finished handle, to allow for turning)...and sewing it to the wrong side of the fabric (twice).

I attached three cords to the bag on one side with three rows of stitching...braided them tightly around to the other side...stitched them down again...and repeated for the other handle.  Then, I made little tabs to cover the unfinished ends and edge-stitched those in place.  I tried to pattern-match as best I could...it's not spot-on...but it's close.

I machine-quilted the entire Tote with lime-green thread...for style and stability.

The closure is a recessed zipper.  This is my own design...but I don't use it often because I'm such a zipper-phobe!

And inside...a pretty paisley lining.  There are also three slip-in pockets and a hard plastic bottom insert to help the bag hold it's shape. 

Kinda looks like "Jaws" here, doesn't it.  I tell ya...it's HARD to photograph the inside of these things!

And there's my new Tote Bag!  I'll be off shopping now!


Stephanie Suzanne ♥ Queen of Dreamsz said...

Hi Kathy,

This tote is beautiful..looks like a fab job on that zipper too. :0) I'm the same way with zippers. I guess it's just not something I use in things I make so when a pattern calls for it I create another way....like the 40's handbag :0)

Hope you are having a good day and staying cool,
Stephanie Suzanne ♥

Scrap for Joy said...

Dear Kathy~
Every time you leave a comment I am so happy. I know you wouldn't remember this but some years ago, when you were selling on ebay...I was one of your customers. I purchased 3 or 4 of your quilted balls (some for gifts and some for me, of course ;D) but my most cherished item made by you was a beautiful purse that was soft aqua and brown and had ribbon loops all around the top. I wanted to send you a photo to tell you that it is still my favorite bag (I only carry it in the summer) and I get oodles of compliments EVERY time I'm out. I even had a cashier in Joanns say to me yesterday "Oh I remember you because of that cute purse!" When you left ebay I was sad but I finally found you on Etsy. Then one day I saw a comment you left on another blog and I was so happy but never wrote to you, hoping you had an email address on your blog profile. Anyway..here I am leaving a comment the length of the Declaration of Independence. I am going to take a picture of the purse and include it in a blog post and link to your Etsy store..not today but soon. I'm glad I finally reconnected with you and I know if you made that purse today and I could tell evryone who loves mine where to fuind it you'd sell a lot of them!
Have a great day Kathy!

Rebecca said...

Absolutely DARLING! I love it, Kathy! Your work is amazing! LOVE THE BRAIDED HANDLE!


Beverly said...

Wow, that is beautiful!!! I just love the fabric!

Jil~Say It With Roses said...

Katy, your bag is spectacular! Just beautiful and I can tell how beautifully made it is....and that braided handle is wonderful and so is the pretty fabric!

You always make the prettiest things....have you been doing any quilts lately?

I love that you have a trusty Singer, as that is what I sew on, too! :)
Thank you for the very sweet comment!

Jil~Say It With Roses said...

This is the third time I have tried to post..lol! It just goes away and comes up with a blank screen that tells me my comment should not be empty! DAH!
So, I think your bag is spectacular....love the braided handles and that marvelous fabric! You always make such beautiful items....Have you done any quilts lately?
I like that you sew on your "trusty Singer" as that is what I sew on, too! ;) And, thank you for such a sweet comment...you made me smile!

Jil~Say It With Roses said...

Oh my, I see there are two comments from me from the day the computer was acting up....I say my computer is a "she." Very tempermental!

I wish I could send you some Michigan peaches....they are smaller this year, but still delicious!

Always love it when you come visiting!

Anonymous said...

Hello Kathy, I have tried to leave a blog comment for ages but blogspot kept taking me round in circles. Write comment, click on Post Comment. Then go to email and password, then go to funny mixed up word and then back to email and password. It has driven me nuts.

I am hoping that this goes through, keeping my fingers crossed, Maureen.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kathy, I was finally able to do it but only after I put myself as anonymous. Whenever I tried doing it properly it said I was not authorized to view this account!!!!

I just wanted to say that it was lovely that you visited my blog and that I really appreciate everything that you wrote.

Also just wanted to say what a lovely bag, keep in touch, Maureen www.arosewithoutathorn.blogspot.com

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