Monday, May 30, 2016

Summertime tote bag - a big one!

It's Memorial Day, the official flip into summer. But summertime always starts early in Florida - it has been hot hot hot and humid. And the last thing I want to do is carry a leather handbag with all its metal zippers and whatnot's. Too much!

Solution - a fabric bag. About five years ago I drafted a tote bag pattern, very much based on the Amy Butler Birdie Sling.

There are a ton of inspiration pics of the Birdie Sling on the web, and lots of tutorials as well. So drafting my version was pretty easy. I've made over 20 of these bags. They were both gifted and sold, back when Ashley and I were doing the craft fair circuit.

But I still have and use the first one I made. I love it. It's roomy, about 26 ¾” tall, including the handles, and 18” wide, and it has some incredible physics going on. Load it up, and the weight is barely felt on one's shoulder. Seriously! I'm sure it has something to do with the inside bag hanging freely from the top band. Whatever it is, I'm amazed every time I use it. I don't know if that is characteristic of the AButler bag as well, but I'd be interested to know.

BTW, this one has been through the laundry several times. Yes! machine wash and dry. 
Time to make some more. It's a great way to use remnants, since each piece - shell, inside bag, bands/handle - uses a yard or less of fabric. Calico, quilting cotton, and light canvas all work well. This cute black/grey number is the first one I've done without contrast fabric on the bands and handle. And it works perfectly with just about everything in my closet.

Keepsake Calico Cotton - Black Lines, from JoAnns

On the inside: Nothing bugs me more than a bunch of loose stuff on the bottom of a hand bag, hiding my keys and making me crazy. So the inside of this bag has a pocket on each side. One is stitched down the middle, the typical phone & glasses accommodation...

Lining Fabric, Buttercream Bicycles - Gray & Metallic - JoAnns
And the other is zipped - a catch-all for lip balm, nail file, comb, tissue, the jewelry I take off when it bugs me... I used a purple zipper because it's easier to see than a black one would be. And I'll put helper of some kind - a ribbon or charm - on the pull.

On the clothes front, my latest pair of Love Notions Sabrina Slims:

Black/White Ethnic Glyphs Cotton Spandex Knit, from Girl Charlee

Top - Butterick 6024
Parting shot: Zebra butterflies and a giant swallowtail roosting in the guava tree at sunset a couple days ago. They're in the tree almost every night now, just six feet from my porch. Beautiful.

This little guy is not so little - 5" wing span!

Ciao! Coco 


  1. Looks like a great bag pattern! I love fabric bags because they're still much lighter to carry. I strive to keep my bag under 7 pounds. Love your outfit today! Very crisp, cool look.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I agree, light bags are winners. Sometimes I just carry my wallet, which has a wristlet, because I can't stand the idea of a bag. And I sew clutches and wristlets as well. Fun to sew and carry.

  2. Do you think it's so comfortable because the strap is quite wide? Out of curiosity's sake, how wide is the strap? I'm always looking for comfort.

    1. HI! At the top, the strap is 1 3/4" wide. It is nice - doesn't slip off the shoulder. I'm with you - comfort!

  3. The butterflies are spectacular! The print of the bag works really well with your outfit. I totally agree: leather and hardware are out for summer!

  4. I like making totes too. and wristlets and clutch bags. love your design. and your ensemble. so fresh.

  5. Love you bag! Thanks for the tips on it. Slim pants are in my future so love to see what you've made. How nice to have mother nature's gifts right outside your door.

  6. Love the tote bag and thank you for including the beautiful lepitoptera!

  7. Hi Coco, I just popped over from Val's Sewing blog. Your bag is beautiful, and works so well in your tropical surroundings. I live in tropical Australia - the heat is the same, and the clothing issues too! Patricia


I love it that you came by...and thank you for your comments! Coco