While browsing a fellow Canadian's sewing blog recently, I discovered the Caravan tote pattern by Noodlehead. I have thought about designing a tote bag pattern many times but was never really inspired by an idea. I immediately loved the look of this tote bag and decided to give it a try!
Like all patterns by Noodlehead, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. Although the pattern piece dimensions were provided, I am lazy and prefer to print out the pieces and cut my fabric that way.
However, I did make some modifications because I was missing some notions. I didn't have a 14 inch metal zipper and I thought that the metal zipper in her photos really improved the appearance of the bag. So I ended up using a 12 inch zipper and just increased the width of the zipper tabs. It worked out perfectly!
I also didn't have size 24 snaps so I ended up using some of my cowgirl snaps. They aren't as prominent on the flap but I like that I can match them with the fabrics I used.
I also decided on using real leather for the straps AND I added a leather rectangle to the bottom of the bag. I like to set my bag down and I don't like doing that with fabric bags - they get dirty so quickly! So I stitched up the bottom seam first, pressed the seam open and then stitched on a leather rectangle that matched my straps. I then continued sewing the sides and corners of the bag.
I ended up adding an additional slip pocket inside the bag. It seemed like such a shame that a large bag would only have one slip pocket so my tote has 2.
This bag sews up fairly quickly and it is quite easy to make. The only thing I didn't care for (and this is just my personal preference) was the 1/2 inch seam allowance. I really prefer a 3/8 inch seam allowance because it is so much easier to follow the edge of your presser foot rather than follow a guide line. Again, maybe just laziness on my part!
I plan on making more of these beautiful tote bags! I don't currently carry tote bags in my Etsy shop and my customers seem to really love this design.