Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Tartan Tote: Souvenir of Edinburgh

I think I mentioned that on my trip to Scotland I picked up some fabric remnants at a custom kilt shop.  I thought it would be fun to use them to make a souvenir of the trip.  Well, I've completed this tote:
As with most of my projects, it was a learning experience.  I discovered that this wool twill fabric is not too easy to work with.  It ravels easily and doesn't press well.  In fact, it makes me wonder how they get those sharp pleats in the kilts.  I'm amazingly more pleased with the product than I thought I would be while the project was progressing.  I had the opportunity to use settings on my sewing machine that I had never tried before.  I used this City Zipper pattern by Penny Sturges. It's modified of course since the large pattern tartan would be totally lost in small blocks. As I was sewing this I realized that I was sewing something I've never done before (a tote bag) out of a fabric I've never used before (the wool twill).  Nothing like a challenge!  The pattern was not difficult, it was the characteristics of the wool that made it hard at times.  I'm going to make a second bag and I will be able to use what I learned. This time I can make different mistakes!  I'm also going to try to modify the zipper to close the entire bag rather than just the center section.  I think it makes for a more secure and functional tote.  The most frustrating part was trying to turn the bag right side out at the end.  The instructions call for leaving a 7 inch opening to turn the whole bag right side out.  That is probably plenty when using a cotton fabric but with the wool it was like birthing a baby - getting this large item out of a small space!

Here's a few more pictures:
My mother would have gotten on me for not matching the plaid in the zipper section above.  The truth is, I didn't realize how close I was to being able to match it!  I thought it would turn out totally random.  Had I realized that for a matter of less than an inch I could have matched this piece, I certainly would have tried.

I liked using the light lining.  I think dark linings make it so hard to find things in bags.  It would be nice to add some Velcro to close the larger pockets (which are actually on the side not visible in this picture).  I may consider that in attempt #2.

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