Learning to sew was one of my 2008 resolutions, and two basic totes and an apron later, I decided I wanted to try something without a pattern or tutorial. I made this for Foxlet in the Book-Lovers Swap, and I'm quite proud of it! I didn't measure a thing, but relied on the iron, eyeballing, and basic folding geometry. I actually found it to be less stressful, and the finished product looked much nicer than the previous tote I'd made using measurements.
First, the fabric: Amy Butler and for the outside, and a sturdy red lining:
I decided I wanted it to be pretty large, so I measured out the pieces and cut two panels of each fabric for the body.
I knew I wanted a gusseted bottom, so I cut the squares out (back to this later):
I then stitched the inside and outside fabrics together at the top to make the front and back panels.
I then stitched together a panel for a set of inside pockets:
And figured out where I wanted the pockets to be based on what they should hold (pencils, notebooks, etc.):
I stitched lines down the center of the pocket panel to make individual pockets:
I pinched and sewed the edges of the bottom corners to make the gussets:
Everything was going splendidly until I realized my mistake - you could see the raw edges in the bag! If it had just been in red, it wouldn't have been so bad, but the outer fabric made the edges look awful:
And it was definitely noticeable even when the bag was rightside-out.
I had an idea - line the edges with ribbon! I folded a wide ribbon in half, pressed it in place, pinned, stitched, and trimmed to fit the edges.
Much better! Not gorgeous on the bottom, but it's not like people see the inside of the bottom - hopefully it will usually be full of books!
And the view of the inside is much better. I like to think that the bag is also stronger, reinforced with the ribbon and extra stitches.
I wanted an embellishment for the outside, and so did an iron-on transfer with an Aunt Martha embroidery pencil. It says "Bibliophile," which means "book-lover."
Of course, I realized that I'd already sewn the outside and inside fabrics together, and so would have to hand-sew the embroidered piece on. I decided to embrace the rough edges of serendipity with some contrast stitching:
Now it just needs straps!
I cut the straps to the width and length I wanted (by eyeballing them) and pressed in the edges.
Folded them in half, pinned, and pressed, then seamed along one edge.
And then attached to the outside of the bag with a stitched square and criss-cross for extra support. Done!
Thanks for looking! Comments and critiques welcome.