Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review : Tohoku Tote

 This post is part of Purse Palooza 2013.
For full schedule of guest post pattern reviews and prizes, click here!
Katy from The Littlest Thistle is an amazing bear-maker, astounding paper-piecer, and I can always count on Katy to make me laugh. Check out her blog to see what she is up to now!

Hi, I’m Katy from The Littlest Thistle, and I’m so happy that Sara invited me back for another year to Purse Palooza.  This year I thought I would listen to my blog readers (in exchange for them listening to me rabbiting on all the time) and review a nice, easy bag pattern, in this case the Tohoku Tote by Cheri from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.


The pattern is free, and accompanies a tutorial found here.  It is in PDF format, and as long as you don’t scale to fit, you should be fine.  In the comments I saw a few people who were worried that their printer didn’t do the ‘borderless’ option suggested, but if that’s the case, you can just use a ruler and pencil to continue to the edge of the paper, it’s all straight lines, so should be nice and simple to do.

The pattern is a good beginner level, with the only slightly tricky bit being cutting around the pleat, although this can be omitted.  There are plenty of photos throughout to demonstrate how to do things.

Now the pattern and tutorial are nice and simple to follow, but I did switch a few things around to make things a little easier on myself down the line.  I changed a little on the cutting, and also the order of doing things, but other than the final assembly, I did everything the way the tutorial is written.

The pattern is meant to be cut on the fold, but I find I get more precise results if I print out two copies of the pattern and stick it together on the fold, which also makes it easier to cut around.  My parents also very generously ate their bodyweight in Gu desserts to give me a collection of wee storage jars/pattern weights, which hold the pattern in place while I cut round:

For the interfacing I opted to use fusible woven interfacing, Vilene G700 (or Pellon SF101 Shapeflex), as I would rather the bag had a fluid movement in the body, while the craft fuse tends towards the papery and can look a little less smooth.  Because I was using dark fabric, I went for the black option rather than white, and when it came to the front piece with the pleats, I opened the pleats out and used the piece as a guide to cut around:

For the handles I chose to cut 2 pieces at 24″ x 6″ so that I could fold them in half, then fold the long sides into to the centre to give a nice, sturdy handle (apologies that the photo is from another bag, I forgot to take a photo at this stage!)

I used a 1/2″ seam allowance, mainly because I’ve seen too many bags fall apart quickly because of very narrow seam allowances, and I like my bags to last.  I didn’t need to make any alterations, other than to trim 1/2″ from the lining pattern piece to take account of the extra added in between the band and the main exterior piece.

I assembled the bag in the following order:

1. Stitched the outer band to the main exterior piece.

2. Basted the handles to the band.  There are no measurements to tell you where to place the handles, so I went for 2 1/2″ in from the edge.

3. Made the bow from version 2 (more on that below) and added it, aligned to the bottom of the band:

4. Assembled the outer, including pressing the seams open and boxing the corners, and turned it right side out

5. Made the lining pockets – again, no measurements, but I went for 7 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ with a 1/4″ seam allowance, and I placed it, centred, 4″ from the top of the bag

6. Added the snaps.  I placed these in the centre 1 1/4″ from the top of the lining, which gave me room for my 1/2″ seam allowance at the top, and space for the top stitching without catching the snap.  I also included a piece of ultra firm interfacing, and a piece of fusible fleece between the bag and the washer to give it a bit of strength.

7. Assembled the lining, including boxing the corners, leaving a 6″ gap in the bottom for turning through

8. Placed the outer, right side out, inside the lining, which was still wrong side out (effectively having right sides together), and sewed completely around the top, with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  I did it this way, as I find it awkward to keep measuring a fold over and press it in place all the way round on a completed bag, and then make sure the fold overs match up nicely when topstitching:

9. Turned it through, pressed it, and top stitched the top edge:

I do like the finished bag, especially how neat the bow looks.  I do have a few tips for turning the bow pieces:

1. Rather than cut straight across at the corners, taper the cuts towards the point:

2. To turn narrow things through, invest in a pair of locking forceps.  These can be obtained online for around £3/$5, and they are perfect for turning this sort of thing:

Grip the corner to be turned, and roll the fabric over the and of the forceps, and point them towards the opening.  Nice, easy turns for little effort :o)

Thanks again for having me Sara, now I need to find somewhere to take my brand new bag!  Well, that’s if my friend that was eyeing it up earlier hasn’t tried to snaffle it before then ;o)

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