finished in the nick of time for M’s 4th birthday tomorrow.

i got the wonderful fairytale fabrics from (cheers for the tipoff josie!), i didn’t think i’d be able to make anything before her birthday, but they came much faster than i expected. i didn’t read the auctions properly so was surprised when one turned out to be a canvas and the other a thin cotton, but i figured i could use them together in a “quick and easy” (ha!) tote bag. i wanted to eke out the fancy fabrics but found it much harder than i expected to find matching weights that were anywhere in the right range colour-wise. i’d immediately thought of gingham for the lining, but couldn’t find anything even close, so the spots it had to be, i do like them, but i think they’re rather overpowering for a “supporting” fabric.

i decided to go overboard on the theme thing: i bought a couple of sticker/activity book versions of the two stories to go in it, hence the size of the bag, which is quite big for a kid’s bag, but i made the straps long enough for her to carry it over her shoulder, so hopefully it won’t be dragging on the ground!

then i thought of her little red riding hood finger puppets that are a great toy, especially for travel, but so small that they’re prone to getting lost. M was recently given a set of wooden blocks in the shape of paris (class :D ) that come in a really handy drawstring bag so i figured i could work that in as well. i decided to track down the matching goldilocks set of finger puppets and house both sets in drawstring pouches that attach with buttons to the inside of the bag. i knew i’d seen a really good tutorial on whipup recently and tracked it down to happythings.

i think the fact that i’ve never made a tote bag before and worked it out from scratch meant i chose prolly not the most efficient way of putting it together. it was the cutting and - most of all - fusing that seemed to take forever. i pieced each side of the outer bag and lining and then fused everything onto a stiff interfacing (so there are 2 layers of interfacing throughout). i like the fact that it’s sturdy enough to stand up on its own, although i’d expect it to soften gradually with use and eventual inevitable washing. if i ever made a bag like this again i’d without doubt use a sew-in interfacing to save time. the handles were made with a bias tape maker (prym beats hemline hands down, this one flattens the fabric sufficiently to actually work!), again outer fabric and lining both interfaced (slightly narrower than the tape) then topstitched together.

inspired by pink chalk studio’s fabulous pencil rolls i decided to include pencil pockets inside the bag. i interfaced one layer of the spotty lining fabric, then stitched the long edges right sides together with another layer, turned and topstitched one long edge (the top of the pocket). then topstitched the bottom edge onto the main lining piece and stitched in the pencil channels (1” wide, marked with masking tape, which is conveniently 1” wide). this was all done before the lining pieces were assembled.

the sewing everything together was nice and quick, but if there’s a trick to sewing the bottoms neatly - and if there is please someone tell me! - i didn’t get it. it probably doesn’t involve trying to sew a rectangular piece in for the base, which is what i did, and although i fudged the corners a bit it turned out a lot better than it could have done :shock:

the pouches (which are lined, there’s swanky :D ) came together so quickly and easily, and i even managed to catch the fact that the riding hood print is directional and so would need seaming before i cut the fabric! i just reversed the fabrics so the “lining” seam was on the outside rather than inside. it’s not the most elegant of solutions, especially given my rather wonky topstitching, but it was quick and dirty and didn’t require too much extra brainwork, since i was resizing the pattern so had to work out my own measurements for where to leave the casing gap anyway.

now i just have to figure out how to wrap it…