A few weeks ago (possibly a few months, now that I think about it…)I found this awesome Orla Keely laminated cotton at the Fabric Store, and knew it was destined to become a tote bag! Then I got distracted by other projects, and it languished in the corner of my sewing room until last weekend. Its been really rainy for the past few weeks, and I decided that I was sick of my stuff getting wet through the calico bag I use to lug my stuff to and from work.
The laminated cotton is quite stiff, and much thicker than what I’m used to sewing with, but my sewing machine battled on and managed pretty well! I thought the 60’s print on the fabric matched my 1960’s sewing machine beautifully as well, very important! After battling with the first seam, I put the table extension on the free arm, which really helped get the fabric through without rippling. I’ve never used the extension before, but maybe I should try it more often! I also used the longest stitch length, and sewed really slowly. Even then, the feed dogs would slip occasionally, and I’d get a run of very short stitches before I pushed the fabric through! This was worse when sewing the hem around the top, the slippery laminated surface of the fabric obviously provided less traction for the feed dogs.
The pattern placement caused me some trouble, as I really wanted to match the pattern down the side seams! In the end I realised that it just wasn’t going to work, the bag would end up too big or too small if I based it on pattern placement alone! Instead I ended up with matched circles down the sides, which I really like. I also sewed across the bottom corners of the bag, perpendicular to the bottom seam, so that it could sit flat and so that I can cram more into it! I cut a rectangle of the left over fabric the same size as the base and superglued it over the bottom seam, to add some reinforcement (I really do pack my bags to the brim) and to make the bottom seamline water proof in case I put it down in a puddle or something stupid.
I also used some of the scraps to make myself a cover for my snapper card (Wellington central bus travel card, like an Oyster card but much less useful as it doesn’t work on the trains. I really don’t know why its called a Snapper)
My beloved ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ cover, bought in London two years ago, finally gave up and died! I just cut two rectangles and sewed them together using a reverse french seam (wrong sides together, sew, trim seam right back, flip inside out, sew again). Folding it inside out was a right mission!
And one last picture, for scale…
I’m pretty proud of my first bag, even if it was a really simple one! I’m glad its waterproof, and it’ll be a good beach bag when summer comes around. I’m feeling better about sewing my lovely leather now that I’ve tried this, as the laminated cotton is much stiffer and thicker than that!