Everyone expects patterns to be perfect. After all, they are made by big companies like McCall’s or Simplicity. They should know what they’re doing; they’ve been making patterns for years. They have tested their designs over and over again, right?
As a maker of handmade handbags, I have tried lots of patterns. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that few of them are perfect. There’s almost always room for improvement. Some are so difficult that they should never have been offered for sale to the home sewer. Some are just poorly designed, or the instructions so poorly written, that no one of any skill level would be able to figure it out.
McCall’s M6094 the Whistlepig Creek quilted tote bag however, is worth five solid gold stars.
Shaped like a classic shopping tote, this 13″ x 13″ bag is large and roomy with comfortable, elbow length straps. Unlike most totes which are quick projects, this is not the fastest or easiest bag to make. I have made two of the three bags pictured several times. It is not a difficult bag but it is time-consuming. It requires careful cutting and piecing of fabrics, just as if you were making a bed quilt. But take your time and piece your seams properly and you will love the results.
This bag calls for lining with a fusible fleece. While I don’t always like the very stiff stabilizers, the bag nevertheless, needs something to give it structure. Fusible fleece will make a stiff bag that will stand on its own. Using a double layer of a medium weight Pellon plus a layer of polar fleece instead, will make a softer bag but one that isn’t too soft and floppy. You’ll have to experiment to determine which one you prefer.
This bag is open at the top. It does not have the zipper or a magnetic snap closure. However, the depth of the bag makes either of these things unnecessary. Things are not likely to fall out.
I make this bag even more useful by adding several interior pockets. I always make sure that at least one is wide and deep enough to hold a water bottle, which I find many bags won’t accommodate. Because this bag is so deep, it is better to make the lining and interior pockets out of a light colored fabric. A dark lining makes it more difficult to find small items in the bottom of the bag.
Few patterns have impressed me as much as this one does. I’ve never made one of these totes that didn’t get loads of complements. It’s a fun bag to make. Each one starts with 33 or 34 five-inch squares and you can choose to use as many pretty fabrics as you like. I will continue to invest the time it takes to make them.