Tag Archives: purl soho

purl soho {echino tote}

echino tote

i cart a lot of stuff back and forth between home and work and home again.  lunch, snacks, lint brush (will the dogs ever stop shedding?), books, laptop, shoes, lab coats…so i need a suitably huge bag to accommodate everything.

for months now, i’ve been using this lululemon bag which has seen better days.  i can’t really explain why i have continued to use it, except that it was free, and relatively sturdy, and necessarily voluminous.  even after one of the straps ripped out, i continued to cart it back and forth, carrying it like a giant paper bag.  it wasn’t until some of the preachy statements started to irritate me, that i really started thinking about acquiring a new bag.  one with handles.  and no pretentious quotes or semi-subliminal messaging.  enter the apple-picking tote.

why???

i saw this pattern on the purl bee ages ago and thought it was ever so adorable and sturdy looking – perfect for my needs.  i scoured my stash for suitable fabric combinations until i realized i had a lovely piece of lumpy linen and another of an echino print i’ve had for years because i had to have it but was never able to figure out just what it was meant to be.  until now.

molly’s tutorial was great, as usual.  the only change i made to her pattern was to lengthen the handles, as i wanted to be able to carry this over my shoulder as well as in the hand.  i made each handle 6.5″ longer than called for, so the finished length of each is 25.5″ (measuring only the portion that sits above the top edge of the bag – this will make sense when you look at that step in the purl bee tutorial, i promise).  so, if you want a shoulder bag, you’ll want to add 13″ to the required length of bias-tape (which, incidentally, is not cut on the bias for this application).

i now have a practical, sturdy, stashable and fetching tote that makes me happy.  what more could you wish for in a bag?

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mighty {stash baskets}

this is the project that marked my return to sewing.

i learned to sew as a youngster (on my sew easy) and carried on with it right through high school.  my twenties, however, saw me neglecting my sewing skills in favour of travel and adventure.  when i finally settled long enough to start nesting again, i bought my first grown-up sewing machine.  despite moving with me from the arctic to the rockies and from the rockies to ontario, my machine didn’t see much regular use until i faced 3 months away from work after knee surgery.  i found myself a copy of sew liberated and became inspired.  i started searching for fabric shops and discovered the likes of amy butler and purl soho online (this would be akin to a trendy bargain-hunter finding h&m).  i planned all kinds of nifty projects to while away my time off, and this was my first.

i chose molly’s sewn stash basket pattern from the purl bee (one of the most amazing craft blogs ever).  these make great multi-purpose storage baskets – perfect for corralling yarn, books, knickers, extra toilet paper…they have so much potential!

the bird basket was take one.  i chose lightweight cotton for both the exterior and interior (that great bird fabric was from ikea), which i learned wasn’t particularly well suited for this use.  even though they were stabilized with a mid-weight interfacing, the fabrics weren’t sturdy enough for the basket to stand up on its own when it was empty.  still, it’s perfect for holding mitts and scarves and shopping bags – all of the bits and bobs that collect near the front door.

i wised up for take two.  i used heavier canvas-weight fabric for the exterior and the lining, et voila – they stand on their own and hold their shape nicely.  i thought that the mama basket needed a baby basket, so i modified the pattern in order to make a smaller version of the  purl soho size.  aren’t they cute together?

actually, when i think back, i made another slight modification – instead of hand stitching much of the bottom and back seams as instructed (sooo tedious and time-consuming, not to mention super difficult to do with 4 to 6 layers of canvas-weight material), i machine-sewed everything and it worked out perfectly (but see the safety caveat below).

these baskets taught me that i need to sew and create.  they led me to discover that there are legions of like-minded crafty folk out there, eager to share their patterns, ideas and experiences.  they also taught me a valuable safety lesson worth noting…whilst powering my machine through said thick layers, my needle broke and the tip flew from the machine, narrowly missing my left eyeball.  yikes!  from thereafter i donned my cycling glasses whenever sewing the thickest sections.  who says sewing is for sissies?

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