Latest finish

I felt antsy. Nothing has peaked my interest or seemed really fun to work on lately. Has that ever happened to you? Oh sure…..I have lots of projects-in-progress (in the quilting world, we call those UFO’s — or unfinished objects.) But I was really looking for a challenge. 

with Danielle Ross

Before I moved to Australia a few months ago, my friend, Danielle, and I had cut out all the bits and pieces to create a Tumbleweed Toiletry Tote from Blue Calla Patterns with the intention of making it into a hobby or sewing tote. (You can read about our super-fun, bag-making retreats here and here.) Danielle and I had already made this tote previously and we had a marvelous time because this is a rather “challenging” pattern.


The first Tumbleweed Toiletry Tote I made with Solid-ish (color: Navy) and cork.

We noticed on the Blue Calla Patterns website that another maker (Michelle of Barabooboo) had “hacked” the pattern to turn it into a hobby tote, so we decided to do the same. But life got busy for both of us and everything stayed tucked inside a project Art Bin box. Until this past weekend. 

I have some travel planned in a few weeks and I really want to take along my hand embroidery and Sashiko projects, but none of my current sewing totes will hold everything I want to carry on that trip. So this seemed like the perfect time to pull out that Art Bin and finish this project. It was definitely a challenge, but worth all the effort because I love how it turned out. And it is the perfect size to hold all my hand sewing, embroidery and Sashiko projects in one place, while still keeping everything organized and within easy reach. 

Introducing my newest finish!

Front of the hobby tote.

A repurposed piece of ribbon from a fat quarter bundle makes the cutest embellishment. 

The back side.

I used black cork with metallic gold flecks for the bag bottom, back panel, and handles. It adds just the perfect amount of bling.

Inside the upper zipper compartment. I added clear vinyl pockets with contrasting fabric trim on each side. Perfect for holding small snips and needle cases. 

I love the scripture references amongst the printed words of this fabric!

Does anyone know the name of this darling steampunk-influenced, sewing-related fabric line? Since I had precut all the pieces for the tote, I don’t have the selvage edges with me and I can’t remember the name of the line. But I absolutely adore it and would probably order more if it is still available. 

Inside the bottom, zippered train case. I added mesh pockets and elastic to keep notions organized and secure. 

The sewing machine zipper pulls in gunmetal finish add the perfect accent to the fabric motifs….

….both inside and out!

There was flexibility to create different sized pockets to store a variety of different sized spools and notions.

I used my fabulous Janome Continental M7 to sew this tote from start to finish and it stitched like a champ — even though ultra thick layers of fabrics, interfacing, cork, and foam!

Here’s the take-away

I came to a realization about a few things. In no particular order:

  1. It is MUCH more fun making totes or purses with a friend or in a group setting. I can certainly make one by myself, but it isn’t nearly as fun or creatively recharging as when shared with the company of another enthusiast.
  2. Don’t keep sewing late at night or when you’re tired and the project requires concentration. You’ll end up either becoming frustrated or you’ll rip out your stitches. A lot.
  3. Enjoy the process, as much as possible. It’s fine to want to get the project finished, but it’s much more gratifying if you can stop and appreciate how great something looks or how much you’ve accomplished along the way. This is much better in the presence of a friend, by the way…. (Danielle, I missed you!)
  4. We all need challenges. The good kind. The kind that stretch our skills and make us try new-to-us things. Each time I’ve made a bag, I’ve grown as a sewist. 
  5. A good pattern and video tutorial helps. A lot. 

Best of all, my sewing tote is Cheeto approved!

  1. So great, Kimberly! I think the fabric is Riley Blake “She who sews” line. Love your project…safe travels!

  2. What a fabulous tote. Your attention to detail makes me ooh and ahh. Love your fabrics. Any hints for working with vinyl? I have some that I want to use on a project.
    Hope you are adjusting to the Outback.

    • My best tips for working with vinyl are to use a size 90 Leather needle and get yourself a Teflon foot for your machine. Also, increase your stitch length to 3.0 or 3.5. These small changes will make a world of difference!

  3. Love your bag! Yes, Cheeto certainly approves (and I do too!) 🙂 Cheeto wants to know what kitty favorites you’ll pack in the bag for him. (wink, wink)

  4. Gorgeous tote and so practical!

  5. Oh Kimberly I love and would love have one. I have to find someone to make if for me as I hate working with Zippers. I’m also not crazy about cork I tried to make a cover for my planner (under a teacher’s guidance) and when we got cork I lost interest and gave up. I love the way it looks but not interested in sewing it.

    I really like the colors in the first one you made. It’s pretty. Two questions if I chose something other than cork, would chambray be heavy enough? Also do you have any videos out with classes yet or maybe s zoom class. I’d definitely tune in. Gif bless Kimberly take care!! Bev Remillard

    • Hi Bev! You an actually make the entire tote with only quilting weight cottons! No cork necessary. That was completely optional.

  6. That should be God bless

  7. Tip #2 is really good. I went through that at a recent quilt camp. After ripping the same seam out for the fifth time, I finally called it a day. Next morning, it went together perfectly. Love the finished tote!!!

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