A Tote Ta-Dah!

My piece of ‘rag’ weaving measured about 8 x 41″ once cut off the loom. Like I’d hoped,  that was enough for my tote project

467 handwoven yardage

plus a little sample to go with my project notes.

473 'rag' weaving sample

I’ll want to consider its thickness and drape, how wide I cut the fabric strips, etc., etc., the next time I plan a ‘rag’ weaving project.

Since I had some of the ‘bear’ fabric left

457 red and black bear fabric

I added a little inside pocket as a fun reminder of how it looked before I sliced it up.

473 tote pocket


473 tote in woods

Soon after it was finished I discovered that my ‘new’ tote can comfortably hold many skeins of yarn! YAY!!

473 hanging open

I think this could be a fun project for beginning weavers because it takes such a small amount of weaving and yet yields very satisfying results! But I’m concerned about the sewing. I don’t have six sewing machines and even if I did, hauling them to a classroom along with six looms doesn’t sound practical. Can the sewing be done by hand? I don’t know. We could simplify the project a little by skipping the pocket. Since the weaving is purely decorative it doesn’t have to be attached with tiny tight stitches but even using big stitches it would take a good while. What do you think?

They could always finish the sewing at home if they didn’t get it done during the workshop.

While I consider all these things, I’ll be looking for a source of low-cost/high quality tote bags and practicing on some more thrifty totes. I’d like to have a variety of finished examples to show students.

Martha probably wouldn’t be thrilled to know that her tote was tagged $1.99 at Savers, or that I paid even less for it, $1.39. lol

473 martha's tote

Once you start actually looking for logo’d totes they seem to be everywhere! I recently got two more at GoodWill and a Big one at Savers – no photos of those yet.

Then I thought, does it have to be a ‘tote’? How about adding a hand-woven accent to a purse?!

Turns out purses aren’t nearly as thrifty as logo’d totes. This cute purse, large enough to be used as a tote, was $2.99 at Sals. gasp. HAha.

473 brown bag

I’m imagining a hand-woven rag strip running vertically up the center and pieces of the uncut fabric appliqued on the side pockets. I hope I have a coordinating fabric in my stash. If not, a thrifty plaid shirt is a possibility.

I’d like your opinion about something besides the sewing. If I do this as a class project, which would be better? #1. Offering an assortment of unique like-new totes, or #2. Giving every student the same boring tote that I’ve ordered in quantity.

You can tell from the way I worded the two choices which way I lean – I would prefer having a variety of totes to pick from, but, I admit, there’s something to be said for New.

Aaah, I’m just now realizing that if I offer totes in all kinds of different sizes the looms will need to be pre-warped in different widths. Boo. Hiss. Sometimes uniformity is Very Convenient! So, New totes it will be, probably black so the colors in the weavings will really Pop!

Thanks for all your help on that. lol.

I still look forward to hearing from you on the earlier sewing issue.

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8 Responses to A Tote Ta-Dah!

  1. You’re Awesome! Not only can you imagine which colors go together and how to create beautiful afghans, but you can imagine and create one-of-a-kind totes. I’m not sure I can do that. But you do it very well. Enjoy your week-end.

    • Hi Beth!
      Thank you very much for the compliment. I suppose my many years of practice might have something to do with how easy it is for me to do this sort of thing.
      But, really?, picking coordinating fabric and yarns to go with a used tote isn’t that much different from putting together just the right combination of yarn and stitch patterns to make a gorgeous sweater, which you do all the time. So, yeah, I think you could definitely do that! 🙂

  2. Barb says:

    As a teacher for more years than I can count, I think you’re right on the money in ordering a uniform tote. Otherwise, you will have to problem-solve multiple times and it will slow things down. You can then share your examples as inspiration and people can take what you have taught them and branch out in their own directions and independent projects if they so choose. I think sewing the weaving onto the bag with a machine would probably yield a stronger final product. I would be concerned that hand stitching might be too loose and the tote wouldn’t look as professional. You could either take turns on one machine or send them home with instructions. I don’t know where you will be teaching this class, but perhaps there would be a possibility of borrowing more machines?
    Just my thoughts……
    Great job, by the way!! : )

    • Thank you for being so generous with your thoughts!

      You are so right; machine sewing would be stronger and probably neater looking… although you never know, as some students will have never used a sewing machine before!

      I should time myself as I assemble my samples. As each one is going to be a little different, I’ll be moving more slowly than usual, which will give me some idea of how long the process might take someone sewing for the first time. I’m concerned that this could turn into a sewing lesson, as much as a weaving one, yet I don’t want to send them home with parts and instructions either. Some won’t have a machine of their own and even if they do, we all know how a UFO can live, unhappily, on a shelf somewhere for years. lol

      I don’t know where I may end up teaching this class; there are several possible venues. I’m still in the brain-storming stage.

      Thank you again.

  3. Kathy says:

    Came out really nice! 🙂 Kathy

  4. anastacia says:

    beautiful job, Linda, as I knew it would be.

    I think – boring as it may be – like you surmised, same size tote bags are the way to go. About the sewing issue? How much more work would be involved in offering options for both hand and machine sewing? I know the very very basics of sewing & yes I own 2 machines, but I’d much rather do a project like this by hand. I can just imagine how awkward I would feel, sitting in front of a machine I barely know how to turn on let alone use, and then try to attach all of my hard work of weaving onto a bag. Somehow holding it all in my lap & with a sewing needle just seems so much more attainable / easy / user-friendly, and, well, DO-able. But for an all-around gal wonder crafter like yourself, doing a tote on a machine, well, that’s the pro thing to do & would be faster for you & like you said, would definitely end up with a more solid, professional end product.

  5. threadbndr says:

    How about attaching the weaving with grommets or jeans type buttons (through both layers, not with a buttonhole)? Those go in VERY fast and give a nice industrial edge that the younger students might like.

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