Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pattern review: 241 Tote from Noodlehead

I couldn't resist making this cute 241 Tote from Noodlehead.  The side pockets, and diagonal front zipper/s seemed so cute, and I liked the idea of using a variety of patterns in one bag.

To make the exterior of this bag, I used the leftover bottom of our Ikea curtains as the main body fabric.  It is heavy linen.  I liked the example bags with the strap the same color as the side pieces, so I did the same.  The purple is a corduroy remnant, and the green striped fabric is a fat quarter from Moda Bake Shop.  The side pockets are lined with the green fabric as well.  I used thin fusible interfacing on the exterior pieces.

I used a 7" zipper on the front instead of the 5" she calls for, and only did one pocket instead of two on the outside.  The outside pocket is lined with the purple corduroy, although I like her suggestion to use the top layer of the zipper pocket in the main body fabric so it won't peek through.  Unfortunately, this suggestion was buried far along in the directions instead of in the cutting instructions at the beginning-- and I didn't go back and re-cut.

The only other modification I did with the exterior of the bag was to stitch the pocket lining opposite side onto the seam allowance opposite of the zipper.  I did this thinking that any heavy items in the pocket would cause the bag to bow and hang oddly when full.

The exterior instructions were easy enough to follow and her photos were excellent.  Instead of pinning the side and main body pieces as she suggested, I pinned the bottom of the curve and sewed up from it in both directions.  I wanted to make sure it fit together and matched at the top.  Topstitching around this seam where the side and main body pieces attach was a bit tight around the machine, but do-able.

The darts on the bottom were a bit of a challenge, and only so because I rarely do darts and wasn't sure if I should mark them on the front or back of the fabric, and they were so small that I felt like there was little room for error (the ones I have done in the past have been marked with pins, and these were too small to do that).  I was impressed that the pattern pieces fit together so nicely when stitched.

 For the interior, I decided to use waterproof fabrics.  I am forever carrying snacks, and wanted the lining to be easily washable.  I used some PUL scraps for the main body, sides, and I also added side pockets out of PUL.  I added snaps to these side pockets because they were cut from the exterior pattern (and not included on her pattern), and flopped around a little on the inside.

The interior patch pocket is the corduroy and green striped fabrics from the exterior, and I added a key fob on the corduroy.   To attach the key fob, I cut a 2" by 4" piece of fabric, folded it in half and half again (like the strap but thinner) and tucked in the ends.  Then I topstitched around the whole thing. I threaded it through the key fob and attached it right above the top of the patch pocket using a box stitch.  I attached it there because sometimes I like to have my keys in the patch pocket so they don't get caught anywhere, but I still want them to be in a specific place.

I added a zipper pocket to the other side of the interior, using a 7" zipper and the pocket is lined with the green striped fabric.  I angled it, using the exterior directions, because the main body was too short to handle a 7" zipper and anything shorter than 7" is too short to be really useful to me on the inside of a bag.  Now that I am thinking about it, maybe next time I will do the zipper straight, and after the side pieces are attached.  This would allow the zipper to use some of the width from the side pieces and the pocket's contents would be sure to hang straight and flat.

When constructing the interior, I skipped the darts.  I thought they were too much effort and didn't make a difference in the lining.  She doesn't say whether or not to topstitch the main body and side pieces together so I skipped it, not wanting to pierce the PUL too much.

When attaching the strap, her directions are clear.  I stitched it on instead of pinning it, though, because it was easier for me than having pins there, and straps can always use some extra strength.  I also find that if I do it this way, they are more likely to hang straight.

I didn't follow her instructions at all in connecting the interior and exterior pieces together.  She has you leave a seam in the bottom of the lining and topstitch it closed after, and I HATE how this looks on the inside of a bag.  So instead I tucked the outside (and strap) into the inside, right sides together, making sure the pockets of each were in relation to each other as I intended (i.e. fronts and backs in the right places).  Then I stitched around the top, leaving a hole for turning which was as wide as the main body on one side.  I made sure to go over the straps a few times when I came across them.  I then pulled the bag right side out through the hole.  Then I finger-pressed it and topstitched the bag, closing the turning hole as I passed it.

This bag is a bit smaller than it looks in the photos, but it hangs at a nice level and it has so many pockets and is so cute that I am sure it will get a lot of use.  Also, it was really fun to make.  I am looking forward to making another!
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Update: After using the bag, the interior zipper's angle is too odd and difficult to reach when full.  Also, the bag is too small... I will need to print it at 125% for the next one... shown here...
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