I had a request from a friend to make a couple of tote bags for her daughters who have laying hens. She bought some chicken-themed curtain fabric she wanted me to use, and if it was not enough I could add some co-ordinating fabric. She left it to me to choose the lining fabric too.
We had a look at my pattern collection and she picked the Totes Ma Tote bag from Emmaline Bags. It has no exterior pockets or features, ideal to showcase her chicken fabric. However, she wanted it simpler, more streamlined, so no zipper across the top, no trim down the seams or large pocket inside.
I made one last year as a beach bag, so I was familiar with the construction. Janelle’s instructions are always very clear and thorough. Though I find the print a bit small so I usually read it off my iPad so I can make it bigger!
When it came to cutting out it became obvious I would need more fabric. It might have worked if the chickens hadn’t been on such a large scale, fussy cutting a large print tends to waste a lot of fabric. I would be able to cut two fronts and two backs, then would need something else for the bottoms and straps. Looking at the more colourful plumage I chose to go with jade green and plum / purple, and managed to find them both in a plain cotton duck canvas from Fabric Inspirations UK on eBay for the exterior and in plain poly-cotton from Oh Sew Crafty for the lining fabrics.
Leaving out the seam trim, zipper gusset and big pocket made the whole bag come together quicker. When it came to cutting the holes for the grommets I find it a bit scary, so I have come up with my own way of dealing with it. I trace around the inside AND the outside of the grommet with a Frixion Pen, then stick it in my sewing maching and stitch a line around the outside of the smaller hole. This holds the layers together and seems to make it easier to see from where I am.
The hold up came when I discovered I had bought buckle sliders instead of buckles and had to order more! I made all the straps then had to wait for the hardware.
For the linings I split the remaining zipper and slip pockets between the two sides instead of having them both on the same side.
I was pleased with the finished result, especially the contrasing bottoms! As Janelle says, “everyone likes a firm bottom, right?”
My friend seem pleased when she picked them up, and I think they turned out well.
I gave her an extra gift too. I printed off the free digital sewing pattern from Swoon for the Gatherer Egg Apron! She does dressmaking, so I thought she could make them for her daughters who have hens!