A few years ago I wrote about this tote bag,
I up-cycled a thrifty find by covering its’ large logo with a handwoven “rag” panel.
At the time I thought, “What a good project for a beginning weaver!”, as even a first sampler can embellish a small tote. But I never pursued the idea because sewing the handwoven fabric on by machine would not be easy for a novice and hand sewing would be very time-consuming. . . so much for a quick, fun project.
Now that I’m teaching at the Artisan Soul Gallery I am reconsidering this project idea. If I can’t figure out a way to simplify things enough for a beginning student, I’ll just embellish the totes myself and sell them at the gallery!
I bought two dozen black cotton totes and started to play, pulling fabrics from my quilting stash that coordinate with the colors in my scrappy handwoven panels.
Note to Self: Choosing a fabric and then weaving to match it would be much easier!
First I tried lining the shoulder straps on a tote. Easy-peasy and I really like the look of surprise when people first notice the long narrow strips.
Next I sewed a pocket inside, like I had on the red tote. I made the pocket small so the stitching on the outside of the bag can be covered by the woven panel.
Boy, I’d forgotten how difficult/frustrating sewing something to a finished tote could be, even when using a machine with a free-arm. – sigh – I thought this step would be easier with an all-cotton tote than it had been on the red tote which is nylon? with a rather stiff rubbery-feeling lining, but no. Decided, considering the effort involved, there simply isn’t enough benefit gained from adding a cute little interior pocket.
Maybe my totes could be happy with only a handwoven panel and contrast straps?
– sigh – Nice, but. . .
they need something.
How about a larger pocket on the outside? Still not the easiest thing to sew, but at least now I’ll get more bang for my buck, so to speak. A large pocket on the back is much more obvious to a customer than a little one tucked inside.
After struggling to attach a few handwoven panels – this is supposed to be fun?! – I set my brain on “ponder” for a couple of days.
Would the heat required to melt fusible webbing also melt the acrylic and polyester yarns in my weaving? There was only one way to find out. . .
I’m sure other brands of iron and fusible would differ but, I get the best results when I set my iron at the low edge of its’ wool setting, spritz the front of the tote with water and use a WET pressing cloth.
The upper right-hand corner is curled up on the bright blue one because I wanted to see how much force it would take to pull off a fused weaving. The answer is LOTS! – lol. – It will not happen accidentally.
Here’s my second set of five, with fused panels. Let’s call them totes #6 – 10:
The cream and khaki totes, #s 6 & 9, I found at Savers, like-new – $1.00 each.
Took these first ten to Fiber Night and asked Laura to pick four for her shop. (I’ll increase the number on display as we get closer to Christmas.)
She ended up buying #7, the one with purple roses, for her teen daughter. Yay!
Having shared my story of frustration over the little interior pockets, they gave me a very good idea. . . sew down only the interior pocket’s upper edge, so it hangs down, like a pouch. And I can hide the stitching in the seam where the band at the top edge of the tote meets the body.
Next I’m going to try fusing a handwoven panel to the front of a rubbery-lined nylon tote, like that old red one. I have three thrifty ones to pick from. Difficult to decide which to experiment on, as I may ruin it in the process.