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How to Make a Simple Tote Bag with Tracy

Hello lovely makers, today I am trying out doing more than a review for Minerva crafts, I am doing a kind of make along, more like highlighting some hints and tips as we work through See and Sew B6477 Pattern, a simple tote bag. Using some lovely fabrics from Minerva crafts that actually have scents on them.  
I kid you not I used Camelot Fabrics Scented Fabric plain colours in apple and tropical as my contrast and lining, and their patterned Tropical fabric as the main, I asked my husband what they smelt like before telling him they were scented and he said apple and mango, they were lovely quality, great colours and smelt lovely to boot - what's not to like. 
I decided to do view b (the red one on the pattern pack).
As well as the fabrics needed you will need 2x 12" zips, sew on light/medium weight interfacing (although I used Iron on as that is my personal preference) Fusible fleece to give the bag some structure and bulk. Along with your normal pins, threads etc.
Before even looking at any of the pattern it is good practice to wash your fabrics, dry and then iron them. This helps to avoid shrinkage on washing our finished projects, whilst in this make along we are making a bag so may not seem needed, if this was a garment and your finished project shrunk or went out of shape after your first wash, I can't even imagine how that would feel after all our hard work.
Now the first thing to do when you open the pattern is to read it through to get an idea of what steps you will be doing, It will tell you what pieces you need for each view and how to lay them on the fabric for cutting etc. 
The first thing I like to do Is circle all the pieces I will need for my chosen view.
Next its time to put our attention to the pattern pieces. Iron your pattern sheets as those little creases can really distort the pattern pieces, we need them nice and flat. Now if this was a garment or accessory pattern with various sizes we would be discussing tracing the pattern on the sizes we need but as this is a simple one size pattern we just need to cut out the pattern pieces we need on the outer of the thick black line.
Place and pin or weight pieces on fabric as pattern describes and cut them out, transferring all marking as needed. 
Iron or sew on all interfacings as required by the pattern.
Then you are ready to start assembling your bag as per the instructions.
I use little clips rather than pins, a) they hold the pattern and fabric really well without marking the fabric,B) I won't inadvertently sew over them and cause damage to my needle and c) I won't prick myself and bleed over the fabric (ASK ME HOW I KNOW!). These are available on Minerva crafts too.
Another tip I can share is that once you place your sewing under your foot, before you start sewing just hold the threads a little taught as you put your foot on the pedal this avoids those ends getting caught and causing that underneath birds nest that sometimes happens. ASK ME HOW I KNOW!!
So go ahead and attach the 2 contrast panels to the main panel of both front and back.
Next tip: It does not say it on the pattern but, too make the bag look a little more finished I then topstitched a line of sewing  approx 1/8" from the seam line on the plain sides. Remember to repeat this if you decide to do it when you join the side pieces  later on.
Once this is done we need to start on the handles. 
The pattern calls for you to mitre the corners of the handle on the ends
Then fold, iron and sew the sides. Ready for placement. 
When I did this I collected the pattern pieces with the handle placement rectangles marked on them and placed on my bag pieces,
I took my friction pen (erases on ironing) and just marked each corner of the rectangle through the pattern onto the fabric.
Then sew, the pattern calls for a straight rectangle sewing but I tend to criss cross as well to hold the handles firmer.
From there just follow all the rest of the instructions for the bag as they are actually fairly straight forward sewing up the sides, adding a very simple patch pocket to one of the inner lining pieces. If you want a really simple bag omit the zips. 
Enjoy your finished bag.
So my thoughts, I love, love the quality and smell of  the Fabrics, I only like the pattern. Although the zipper closure on view B to me was not aesthetically pleasing and if I were to do it again I would either use a long zipper, or omit it completely and just do a magnetic snap clasp closure of even a big button and loop. But a great easy bag for a beginner. 
Thanks Minerva, I would love to use my bag for shopping trips, but my MUM has claimed it as hers!!!
Thanks for reading,
Tracy @ T Plays Nice

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