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The Nautical Mile Tote

June 25, 2015

A few months ago, I was in the mood to attempt my first sewn bag.  It's funny that I've worked as a handbag/accessories designer for years in NYC... and I never made my own bag (?).  I've been accumulating a lot of material with my quilting adventures... and so, why not? 

I was feeling a bit nostalgic for summer in the States (again)... and there are a number of things that always make me think of summer.  Ice cream cones, barbecues, iced coffees, strawberries, and all things nautical.  A few of the images below struck a chord with how I was feeling... or wished to be feeling since it was recently rainy and cold here in the Alps.

These jeans [Credit:Link]

By the water [Credit: Link]

Dogs & Beach Houses [Credit:Link]

Soft Shoes [Credit:Link]

This Tote [Credit:Link]

Wide Stripes [Credit:Link]

I looked around for a few easy patterns that I could sink my teeth into... this was my first attempt, afterall.  I tend to throw my hands up and walk away if I can't get things relatively quickly... but, my stubborn side brings me back to the table to try it again.

I found this pattern from Leanne Barlow from Elle Apparel that looked like a good first tote:

Canvas Beach Bag [Credit:Link]

I had some material that I bought a few months earlier from Ikea.  They have tons of fabrics! And, even sell a sewing machine!  I like this material's weight... makes for a good tote that isn't too stiff and isn't too flimsy.  I added a layer of Ikea's light white cotton as an interlining.

Blue & White Stripes from Ikea [Credit:Link]

Leanne's instructions were very clear on the dimensions to cut the pieces for this tote.  I opted for a contrast coral orange material for the lining.

Feeling nostalgic for summer in the States, I added a star applique to the front pocket.

Everything was moving along smoothly... until I found an old Muji canvas tote with an interesting seam technique.  The original bag pattern had the seams turned inward... while this Muji bag had exposed French Seams.  I didn't know that this type of seam is great for lightweight or sheer fabrics.  I had THREE layers of fabric... which were DOUBLED inside the French seam... and so, by the time I got around to joining the bottom seam to the side seams... things got a little crowded under my sewing foot!

But, that didn't stop me!  I aborted the French seams right as we got to the bottom seam... and continued sewing the tote in similar fashion to Leanne's pattern. 

I used self handles following the Muji tote - using the materials striping as a design element (top side white, underside blue)... So, I strayed off the path a bit... but I'm still happy with how things turned out!  Inspiration happens at any moment... it's fun to let it in sometimes... always be flexible and let creativity happen!

The Nautical Mile Tote

Love this tote... It's soft, it's relaxed... it's roomie... It's a great tote for lazy summer weekends when you just want to throw everything in a bag and get out the door.  Hope your summers are going well so far.  There's still July and August to go!

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