Tote-ally chuffed (yep, pun intended)

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Weekend craft project; my new tote bag. Su Leslie 2018

I’m doing the happy dance today. My feeling-a-bit-meh-stay-in-and-sew project from the weekend has turned out way better than expected.

Sewing is one of the many things I do with considerably more enthusiasm than skill. But for all that I often hate the results of my labours, I do really enjoy the processes.

The tote was meant to be a simple solution to my twin problems of having a) lots of art and craft materials, and b) no dedicated space in which to use them.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that my stuff wasΒ  dispersed through pretty much every room in the house. A huge tidy-up followed (you know the one that includes thoughts like “so, that’s where the screen-printing ink ended up” and “hm, don’t remember buying 10 metres of white satin ribbon”).

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The art bag. Su Leslie 2018

My tote isn’t quite that ambitious. It is designed to hold an A4 watercolour pad, paints, pencils, brushes and assorted painting doo-dahs and I’m happy to report that it does this rather splendidly.

BUT … it’s also much nicer than I anticipated and it seems a bit sad to keep it at home, lurking in a closet or corner.

SO … I’ll probably test-drive it as a new handbag. And I guess I’ll just have to make myself another art bag.

 

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47 thoughts on “Tote-ally chuffed (yep, pun intended)

    • Thank you πŸ™‚ Most of my stuff does too. But I need to move it around because I don’t have a dedicated place to work. I thought tote bags might be easier for small amounts of stuff that I always use together.

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  1. Oh gosh, that bag is ace! And I love your description about your sewing as having more enthusiasm than skill.Β Me too. πŸ™‚ But I think your bag actually disproves that theory anyway. It looks like something you’d buy for $100 from some upmarket …er… market. It definitely needs public exposure.

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    • Thanks Deb. I did think about it, but my sewing machine isn’t really up to making bags (and I think my attention span is a bit short for anything repetitive). I have wondered about maybe doing prototypes and finding a company that can manufacture. That’s probably the only way it would be economically viable.

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  2. I think it is lovely and as a complete non-sewer, I admire anyone who can. Now you need to make a beach bag, ooh, and a camera bag, you know, one which you can pop in a camera, an extra lens or two, a notebook and pen, purse, keys, a bottle of water and sunscreen. I have a small canvas bag (I hate handbags per se), but it doesn’t accommodate all that. And I have a ‘proper’ camera bag with compartments for lenses etc. but nowhere to store a purse of some water…

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    • Hehe. I did actually make a sort-of camera bag a couple of years ago. It’s ok, but I discovered it was nearly impossible to get good padding in using a domestic sewing machine. The whole thing becomes way too stiff and thick to sew. On the plus side, it did have all the useful spaces that real people need and normal camera bags don’t have.
      My next project is to make some simple fold-up totes that I can carry around for shopping. I hate forgetting and single-use plastic bags are still standard here (grrr).

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      • Oh, that’s so funny! A shame it didn’t quite work out. I reckon you could go into business with your tote bags though, seriously. I have a couple of cotton ones in my non-handbag, ‘just-in-case’ I happen to buy something and haven’t got my proper shopping bags with me. Why don’t shops bring back strong brown bags? I remember using them in South Africa in the 1970s and they were great. And stop wrapping everything in cling film!

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      • Don’t get me started on cling film!!!! My local greengrocer has taken to pre-packaging all sorts of fruit and veg in little Styrofoam trays swathed in metres (well it feels like it) of clingfilm. I keep asking them not to, but to no avail. I like shopping there; it is a small family-owned local business, but I am going to have to find an alternative.
        I remember brown bags too. Mum used to save them from the grocery shopping and they were used for all sorts of things round the house.
        NZ is proving painfully slow in legislating against single use plastic, but there is a growing awareness of the problem. This may be partly because China has recently stopped taking our plastic to recycle and now we’re left with ever-growing mountains of the stuff.
        A cloth bag business could be timely! πŸ™‚

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      • We are very good at inventing things (usually in backyard sheds, with bits of string and old lawnmowers πŸ™‚ ) but increasingly unwilling to give up petty conveniences for the greater good. The generation that didn’t waste even a single windfall apple from their garden (and everyone had a garden) has given way to one that embraces strip malls being built everywhere and then tenanted with nothing but fast food joints (sadly, I’m not exaggerating).

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      • That is sad. It worries me how much my young granddaughters rely on beauty vlogs to set standards. You have to wonder what sort of world these youngsters are going to live in. Social media has changed life for them and not necessarily in a good way.

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      • I know what you mean. I do wonder though, whether as they get older the need to follow trends will diminish. I was never particularly “into” fashion (or anything very girly) but I remember friends obsessively buying and reading beauty and fashion magazines and trying to emulate what they saw. The time-scale was slower, but I think the desire to conform was the same. We all grew up, and perhaps grew into our skins. I hope the same for young people today.

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      • I hope so. Maybe the need to check their phones every two minutes will fade too!
        Like you I wasn’t into fashion too much, I seem to have missed out on the shoes and handbags, make-up and shopping gene! I obsessed about travelling abroad which none of my friends did.

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      • I’m not sure about the phone checking. I have “grown-up” friends who can’t keep their eyes off their screens — just in case.
        I’m not sure what I was obsessed with as a teenager. I was terribly serious and very political, but travel didn’t feature much in my dreams. I left school at 16 and was working, so I think I was just busy trying to survive in the adult world.

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    • Thank you. I think I have quite low expectations of my sewing project and I’m always absurdly pleased when they turn out. A friend asked me to make her one, and there is a part of me that’s saying not to because it would be tempting the wonky seam and broken needle demons.

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  3. ahhhh – the right bag is so crucial – and I have had to experiment many times for the right gym bag, the right class- snack bag, the right lunch one – feels a bit like an ongoing thing for me – ha!
    and I love yours here and wonder how the gift ones will turn out

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    • Thank you. I did. A slightly different design, but essentially the same and with the image on the front. Now I’m itching to try different fabric and different images. Just as well the weather is a bit rubbish and I don’t have to go out. I’m tote-obsessed xxxx

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      • I totally know that feeling! I’ve had a similar obsession lately about sewing summer trousers, maybe I can take some pics to include in my changing seasons post. πŸ˜‰ Wish you lots of fun trying out different fabrics and designs – who knows, maybe the students in Claire’s classes would love to buy them. I know I would! πŸ˜‰ xxxxxxxx

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      • Apparently Claire’s art students did ask about buying them. I did the maths, and I don’t think I can make them profitably. It has got me thinking about ways I could make a business out of it. But I’d need a much better (industrial) sewing machine and somewhere better to work. At the moment I’m cutting on the kitchen bench and sewing on the dining table.
        I’d love to see pics of the trousers you’re making. I’ve lost my mojo a bit with clothes-making. Bags are much easier for me πŸ™‚ xxxxxx

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      • I knew they would!! IΒ΄ve been thinking about selling bags myself what with Etsy and so forth. But as you said, the profitability is where it all comes to halt, I would have to sell them at a price most people wouldn’t like to pay without seeing the bags first, I guess. And I know exactly what you mean with that industrial sewing machine! IΒ΄ve been thinking about getting one for years now, especially since IΒ΄ve discovered the fun sewing your own clothes can bring. But they are quite pricey, and IΒ΄m not sure if my skills would justify such an outrageous buy. πŸ˜‰ xxxxxxxxxx

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      • T says second-hand industrial sewing machines are quite cheap here. Which I can believe, since New Zealand has largely stopped manufacturing much in the last few years!! I’m not sure where I’d put a machine, but if I can find a suitable one, I may end up but paying it. T was looking because he’s rebuilding a motorbike from scratch and is very fussy about the seat upholstery. Maybe I can get him to buy it, and perhaps even go into the bag business too πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ xxxx

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      • I’m sure you’ll be able to find a way getting him to buy it for you. πŸ˜‰ Just promise him the best upholstery possible on earth. πŸ˜„ And if that worked out well I can forsee that you’ll also get future biker customers beside the bag addicts like myself! πŸ˜„xxxxxxx

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      • Hehe. I know that his perfectionism and my inability to sew a completely straight seam might be a slight barrier to this plan. But perhaps we could share the cost and I’ll teach him to sew πŸ™‚

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