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. They would make great gifts, especially if filled with a few fun treats!
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 the 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 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 to show Laura.
The one with purple roses, #7, now lives with Laura’s teen daughter. lol
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 could hide the machine 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 these three thrifty ones. . .
Difficult to decide which to experiment on, as it may be ruined in the process.