Archive | June, 2009

directions are for following…

7 Jun

on my second trip to london, i was determined to find great fabric and make something that would always remind me of being there. fabric was my souvenir for that trip and i found some great patterns at cloth house on berwick street in soho and at peter jones in sloane square in chelsea. almost two years later, and i’ve just made throw pillows for my couch. nice.

wait, i take that back. i did make something with the cloth bag from cloth house. i loved the design and added it to my wall of embroidery hoop frames.

fabric art

the rest of the fabric, though? not so much. one of the fabrics was this great green apple oilcloth. i’ve been keeping my eye open for good oilcloth projects and i came across one this week.

apple oilcloth

the oilcloth grocery tote from the purl bee seemed to be the perfect project as i would not have to buy a single thing to complete it. and it was a tote bag. do you know of my love for tote bags? i am helpless against their appeal, which is tremendous.

after looking through the pattern instructions, i quickly calculated that i would have enough for two bags – hoorah! as with all my fabrics from london, i only purchased one metre (british spelling just because), as i wasn’t sure what would eventually be made with it.


i set about cutting the oilcloth (with an annoying fold line!) and organizing my sewing station. i was very proud of myself at this point. that would change quickly enough…


my first cock-up was when i cut the strips for the handles 2.5″ x 15.5″ instead of 2.5″ x 18″. luckily, i had only cut two of the four handles and i still had enough to correct my mistake.


i cut the bottom of the bags using a rigged string & pencil compass, which worked pretty well. i kept thinking that there didn’t seem to be enough fabric in the main panels of the bag to cover the circumference of the bottom, but oh well, just listen to the music and keep cutting. sigh.


the rolled hems turned out very well and i did all four main panels quite quickly. this was so easy and fun! huh.

sewing panels

i got one bag’s main panels sewn together before i realized that my dimensions were backward. the pattern calls for 15″ h x 18″ w; i had constructed everything on the basis of 18″ h x 15″ w. big time expletives. could i salvage it and make it work? of course not, unless i wanted to undo all the rolled hems and have sideways apples. ahem. if you know me, you know sideways is not an option.

needless to say, i stopped taking pictures at this point. i went over to my other beloved apple and found a hack. i could still make the totes, but i’d have to have a different bottom. i researched other patterns before accepting that the easiest fix was to construct a traditional tote bag bottom. i ended up squaring the corners in this manner. problem solved. no cute circle bottom with french baguette sticking out, but good. and practical. and cute.

market totes

they’re a bit wrinkly from the fabric being folded for almost two years, but i think i can live with that.

market totes II

now, if i can just remember to take them with me to the grocery store…