27 February, 2014

Pendleton Tote Bag

I leave for SewExpo tomorrow and my tote bag is finished.

It's got a zipper inserted into the side seam.
My purchases can get stuffed into the tote but my wallet will be instantly accessible in this secure pocket.

Close-up of my personal touch.
I was actually tossing the sewing room looking for pendleton labels when I spied these beyond cute, tiny airplane beads.

This project is a great example of how I sew - on the fly. Making it up as I sew. This requires some bag construction knowledge/experience but these projects turn out with amazing details even if the sewing room had a tiny tornado rip through.

This was my inspiration piece. Someone made this to sell on Etsy and I just loved that little zippered pocket. Tote bags aren't my favorite bag as I lose stuff inside.

My Pendleton fabric was not wide enough so I added these interfaced brown wool strips to make it 20" wide.
I interfaced after I sewed those strips down when I was pressing the seam. The brown strip wool was not as heavy as my Pendleton motif fabric.

To insert the zipper, I basted the seam together and then basted the zipper tape to the seam allowances.
I turned it over and top-stitched it down - your zipper tapes have at least two stitch lines to secure them this way.
Then I had to re-figure how to add that pocket so its edge against the zipper was finished.

It's like a chess game - staying two moves ahead of your actual sewing.
I rough cut the pocket rectangles.

By the way, both the pendleton motif fabric and my turquoise wool lining fabric came from the Pendleton booth at last year's SewExpo - on major sale Saturday afternoon. They don't want to haul anything back to the Portland warehouse.

Basically, I topstitched the pocket lining down the zipper tape along the previous seam line.

And then.... I realized my pocket was going to sag inside. My pocket was not secured to anything but the zipper.
So I added a piece of muslin to the top of the pocket to catch in the totebag waistband. That would keep my pocket straight by hanging it from the top of the totebag - the waistband if you will.

And I cut two of those muslin pieces for both sides of the  pocket (not sewn together yet) when I realized the pocket when sewn together would go to one side and I just needed the one thin piece of muslin. I was happy not to bulk up that waistband any more than I had to.

There it is, laid to one side. This pocket will between the outer fabric and the lining.

Nice finished edges that will not get caught in the zipper teeth.
I also back-stitched at the top & bottom of the zip to keep it from opening further. I used a dark brown thread that is practically invisible on that brown herringbone (thrifted wool).

I, occasionally, get neurotic that my serged tails will unravel. When I was sewing the brown naugahyde to the motif fabric, I grabbed the tail and sewed over it.

I also was not sure how the serger would do on the thick naugahyde so I sewed it instead.

I wanted to use leather for the bottom but my stash wasn't color matching. I had this nice piece of brown variegated naugahyde which worked fine.

I collect sewing 'stuff' and I do try to use what is in my stash.

I boxed the corners at 4.75" as per my plan. Yes - I did start out with a plan. You have to measure!
I wanted the 'leather' to come up about 3 inches on the side before the bottom started.
I allowed 6" wide for the "leather".
3" side + 2 3/8" bottom (4.75" divided in half) + 2 x seam allowances of 1/4"+ (thick fabrics) = 6".
I hope you got that 'cuz there'll be a test later.

Pendleton gave me some labels which I cannot find for the life of me so I ripped one off of a thrifted Pendleton shirt.

If you're going to make something out of Pendleton Wool - yay! local business! - then you need to do a shout out with a label.

I don't know if you caught my subtle humor: the "TALL" sewn on to the side of the label - 'cuz this is a tall tote!

Wondering what to do for a pocket inside. I like pockets to be obvious so making them from the beautiful turquoise lining was not an option. I found this scarf (Pendleton!) in one of my wool boxes and cut it up without a qualm to make my pocket.

It was a narrow 5" wide scarf so I found the matching stripe and cut two of them and then sewed them together to make my much deeper pocket. The colors went well with the outside - like it was planned from the drawing board.  lol

I did the typical tote bag finish by inserting the lining inside the outer with wrong sides together and sewed around the top, leaving a gap for turning.
Three lines of top-stitching.

And then  - I have to go to work this afternoon so I stole the handles off my recently completed Year of the Rabbit tote and finished the purse before I could think of anything else to add.

I did want leather handles with an arrow-shaped piece to secure them to the bag but I don't have time to cruise to Joann's or Michaels or ...

Did I mention I will get something special when I show up at the Pendleton booth?
Anybody who shows up with something made with pendleton gets a prize.


  1. Ohhhh.. I *love* Pendleton and I *love* tote bags, so I loved seeing this one you made. I need to get a Pendleton tote bag! LOL!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    1. You're so sweet.
      The zippered pocket in the side seam saw a lot of use at SewExpo.

  2. Seconding the "love it!" comments. Looking forward to seeing pix from Expo and what you won from the Pendleton booth.


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