Finished Spotted Tote Bag from canvas remnant

Putting together this big dotted tote – ideal for grocery store or library hauls – was not without incident. Looking back now, I realize I was pushing my trusty home machine to its limits, expecting it to speed through six layers of canvas, loaded with upholstery thread, (and a sloppy bobbin wind to boot). After an angry flip-out, following the fourth thread snarl-up, I cooled down and did manage the assembly.

My conclusions:

Take it slow and steady. One of the most challenging parts of the bag was sewing up where the sides meet the bottom at 90 degree angles. I had to take it in three stages. Sew the bag seam, then sew on one side of the bias binding, and then fold the bias tape over for a final topstitch. I would have liked to do all this in one go, but I could not manage without messing up. I slowed to manual speed while rounding the tight corners.

Cut your tote bag pattern pieces based on any old, or worn out bag you can take apart. This one above needed only a half yard of 60" printed canvas.

Cut your tote bag pattern pieces based on any old, or worn out bag you can take apart. This one above needed only a half yard of 60″ printed canvas.

Managing a neat, straight stitch was another hurdle. My needle kept going off course. And black thread over the white parts of the design showed off the mistakes. So I tried not to pull the fabric as it went over the feed dogs, kept the foot tightened up good and used the guide marks on the foot plate to steer.  Not perfect, but slow and steady won the race.

I should have remembered to turn over the top edge of the bag before sewing up the side seams. This would ensure that the seam allowances point outside all the way up, and then it’s easier to add the bias tape up sides.

And from a design standpoint, I think a bold primary colour for the bias tape – red, blue, or yellow – would have added graphic punch.

When I do my next  canvas bag I will want to try some horsehair or woven interfacing along the top edge for a more sturdy body. I might try this heavier grade as well for the handles. And I’d like to fashion a lightweight lining with inside pockets. That would make for less rummaging around for keys and coins and pens in the the depths of the bag’s contents.



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