I hope this finds you well. This is a slightly different post for me in that I am going to share with you how what was meant to be a simple project turned out to go so wrong! Usually I would just not share the project and hide it away but seeing as I was able to redeem my ‘creation’ and it turned out okay in the end, I thought I would throw caution to the wind and share. So here goes!
With my aunt’s birthday this week, I decided to find a simple tote bag that I could make her as I had some perfect fabric left over from a previous project. I found a tutorial by Joan of JMB Handmade https://jmbhandmade.com/how-to-make-a-simple-tote-bag which I found simple and easy to follow, until my moment of epic failure! I love following tutorials for different projects as everyone has their own ways of doing things and if you are lucky, they will share their tricks and tips with you. From the outset I discovered that I didn’t have enough of my chosen fabric left to do the whole bag but I really wanted to use the fabric as it was perfect for my aunt. After considering what else I could make, I decided that I would stick with the original idea of the tote bag and use a contrasting fabric to add panelling to give me the right size of fabric needed for the whole bag. I knew that my bag wasn’t going to be as big as the one in the tutorial and may even be a slightly different shape but I hoped that if I followed the step-by-step instructions, then the method would still be the same.
Once I had added the panelling to create the two sides of the tote bag and found a suitable fabric for the lining, I needed to attach the iron-on interfacing to all pieces of fabric. I actually think that this is one of my favourite steps of the process! There is something quite satisfying about using heat to attach interfacing to fabric, knowing that the process will change the feel of the fabric altogether and support and enhance the finished item. During this stage of preparing the fabric pieces, I also had to create two straps for the bag. Ironically, this is the one aspect of the tutorial that I think I learnt the most from (all shall be revealed)!
Being at the stage of sewing the pieces of fabric together to create the bag is where the project began to slowly unravel! Placing the lining pieces of fabric, right sides together to create the inner lining of the bag was simple enough, as was attaching the straps to the outer pieces of fabric. The tutorial suggests that you can attach the straps by stitching them in place or simply attaching them with pins at this stage and in retrospect I should have done the latter.
One step of the tutorial that I did find interesting was the cutting of square corners at the bottom of the lining and outer fabrics which would help to make a boxed bottom for the bag. This is definitely a skill that I would like to use in future projects, just maybe not in making a tote bag! Having now got a pocket of outer fabric and a pocket of lining fabric, I needed to place the lining fabric inside the pocket of outer fabric and secure together with pins. All seemed to be going well and my piece was looking similar to the tutorial photos, which is always reassuring. It is worth noting at this point that each ‘pocket’ of fabric was positioned right sides together for stitching. I stitched around the top of the bag, securing the lining and outer fabrics together and leaving an opening along the top to allow the bag to be turned out the right way. And this is when it happened ….
As I went to turn the bag out the right way and finish it off, I realised that as I had sewn the straps to secure then rather than use pins, I had actually sewn them into the bag between the lining and the outer fabric – oh! To be honest, I still don’t fully understand what happened. My excuse is that it was a hot day and the boys were tearing around and shouting – not an soothing environment for calm creating! I think I was simply not concentrating which resulted in a rooky mistake. Many years ago I would have got really cross and probably attacked the ‘bag’ with a pair of scissors (it has been done). However on this occasion, despite being very annoyed with myself, I took a deep breath and pondered how I could redeem the project. I actually quite liked the way that the ‘bag’ looked and so decided to cut off the ends of the straps (which were now sewn into the bag) and fashion the creation as a fabric basket. After all, who doesn’t love a basket nowadays?!
So, here we are! A fabric basket, which may or may not have been destined to be a tote bag! Once the ends of the straps had been trimmed off, I just needed to sew round the top of the basket to secure. The addition of the two matching buttons serves two purposes. Firstly, I often like to add a little embellishment to ‘finish’ off a piece and these buttons are a good match to the lining material. Secondly and in the spirit of being honest, I wanted to cover up a join in the top stitch that I wasn’t entirely happy with!
So there we have it – a tote bag that became a fabric basket. In retrospect, I don’t actually think that the finished piece would have looked quite right with straps as I had not got enough fabric to make a full length tote bag so maybe it was best that I had an epic fail! I filled the basket with goodies for my aunt – bubble bath and some of her favourite sweeties. When I presented it to her, I did retell the story of how I made it and we had a little giggle. She loved the fabric basket and said that she could use it to store her sewing supplies.
All in all, the project turned out okay in the end and I am glad that it will be used for a purpose. I have learnt that while sometimes things don’t always turn out the way we hoped and we make mistakes, with a deep breath and some alterations, it can all be ok in the end!