Progress on the Professional Tote

I completed the outer part of the bag yesterday:

Now I need to complete the lining and sew everything together. I am thrilled with this. It's going together so smoothly on the industrial. I absolutely adore that machine—it hasn't balked at anything yet. Having the right tool for the job really does make a difference. 

Switching out the drawstring cords for elastic on the side pockets worked really well, too, and I am glad I made that modification. My pattern is covered in lots of scribbled notes to myself. One of the things I really appreciate in sewing patterns is having a photo of the finished item with the pieces labelled—something that shows the "anatomy" of the bag. There isn't one for this pattern and thus I am flying kind of blind in places. The pattern specifies to cut the pieces out of main fabric, contrast, lining, and interfacing. Each piece is numbered and labelled within the instructions (and handy little pin-on labels are included in the pattern), but without actually making the bag, it's hard to visualize where each piece goes. In the picture, above, you can see that I used black for the handles and the base. Those are considered "contrast." The top edge detail on the front and side pockets, though, are also considered "contrast," and you can see that I changed those to a different color of Kona. 

The lining instructions have you cut out four pieces of fabric for the large center zip pocket. Two are interfaced for the outside of the pocket and two are not interfaced and make up the lining of the pocket.  After I got my zip pocket put together, I ran across a photo tutorial on the internet that showed the large center zip pocket with a different fabric used for its lining. I thought that was a really nice detail and I wished I had done that on mine. I've now re-labelled that particular pattern piece, because I think it's confusing to call it part of the lining when it's actually the lining for the center pocket, which I don't think of as being the lining for the bag. Also, there are "contrast" pieces that are part of the "lining" and that really threw my brain for a loop for a few minutes. 

I am being picky, I know. Try writing the instructions for tying your shoe and you will have a better appreciation of what pattern writers have to go through. It's not easy and these instructions are some of the best I have seen. 

In any case, that center pocket is done and I am not going to redo it for this bag. I might change it on the next one, however, because now I will be able to see which pattern piece goes where and I can choose the fabric for that piece accordingly. That's especially helpful when I am trying to work from my stash and may want to use up smaller pieces of fabric. 


I've got to get out to the garden this weekend and get some things picked and dug up and processed. The beets are huge. It's a variety we have grown before but they have never gotten this big. The collard greens need to be picked and blanched and put in the freezer for soups and stews. I did that last year and it worked really well. I've given up on spinach. It would look all nice and lush and then I would go out the next day to pick it and it would have bolted literally overnight. Collards are much easier and they taste the same in soups. The beans are confounding me–the plants are lush and green and climbing up the trellis and covered with blossoms, but I have yet to see a single bean. I have no idea what is taking them so long. I expected to have beans long before this. 

I see lots of tomatoes, especially on my paste tomato plants, and that bodes well for sauce-making in September. 

We'll have lots of potatoes, lots of corn, and I think my cabbages will survive another week or two of this awful heat. I feel like we just didn't manage the garden as well this year as we did in previous years, but then I have to remind myself that falling off a deck set us both back physically for a couple of weeks. As long as I am happy with the amount of food I have put up for the winter—and I am mostly on track—then I'll just have to be okay with how the season went. I got huckleberry jam made this year, all the zucchini bread is done, I did peaches, we have plenty of peas, and the beans still have some time yet. We aren't going to starve. And it may be that I am feeling like we're not working as hard out there because the changes we have made in our cultivation practices, like not rototilling and using black plastic to keep down the weeds, means that we just don't have to work as hard. I'll have to run that past the husband and see what he thinks. 

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Reader Comments (3)

Looks wonderful! I am not a bag/purse person as you well know, but last summer when I was in Denver in Barnes and Noble of all places, they had a very sturdy bag our of the old packpack material with 8 pockets on the outside and a couple of mesh zipped on the inside. It has two very sturdy handles out of ahem leather? It is a little heavy but holds everything, including my coffee cup in the morning. It is my go to for school. Deb said they ran into someone in a store yesterday with an Indians tee on and when Deb inquired they said they were from Elyria. Got the impression they live around Kalispell. Interesting.

August 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDoreen

I know what you mean about wanting to visualize how pieces go together. Having that information allows me to look at instructions and think "Why on earth would you do it that way?" (Though sometimes that is followed later by "Oops. That's why") Or if I feel something is being cut a little too close, I may cut the seam allowance a hair on the generous side, or scant it a hair when stitching. It helps my "engineer brain"-- and my results-- if I understand the plan.

August 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia in Austin

I am kind of a sucker for bags. Some people like shoes, I like bags....

Marcia, you are right--being able to understand the plan does make a difference. I like to have the big picture before I start a project. But I also know how many different learning styles there are, so I try not to be TOO critical when someone doesn't write a pattern that caters to my learning style. Now that I have this tote almost done and can see the forest instead of the trees, I am really looking forward to making another one. I still think I'd make a great pattern tester, LOL.

August 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Szabo

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