Pattern Review: Super Tote by Noodlehead

We recently got a bag pattern by Noodlehead in our shop! The creative force behind Noodlehead, Anna Graham, has done an amazing job of writing really detailed patterns that walk you through each step of bag making. Our friend Sara was kind enough to review this pattern for us after her first try at a Super Tote. Thanks so much Sara for sharing your experience!

In the land of instant gratification….

It seems we live in a land of instant gratification – instand messages, instant pictures, instant information in so many forms. I think this mind set may have spilled over into my seewing room as well. Who doesn’t like to see a finished sewing project? Do you find yourself thinking that those sewing projects need to come together quickly just like so many toher things in our lives?

Recently I was on a hung for a bag to make for a special friends’ 40th birthday present. I admit that I am picky about bags – they need to have the correct handle length, the right number and size pockets, a useful size and of course it has to be a fun color. AND, if I am sewing the bag, the pattern and instructions have to be good. After reading lots of online reviews I decided that the Super Tote pattern written by Anna Graham for Noodlehead would be just right.

I learned some things while constructing this bag. This pattern has clear instructions and good construction pictures. The finished bag is very nice; is a good size and is very functional. The little design details are a fun addition to this functional bag. I would not recommend this as a first ever sewing project, but if you have successfully read other patterns, you will do fine with this one too.

1) Take the time to read the pattern before you begin. I think it is always important to study a pattern before attempting to sew the item. I try to ‘make’ the item in my mind. Thinking about which pieces will go with other pieces, where the pockets will be, how the zipper will be applied, etc. This leaves no surprises when doing the actual sewing of the item.

2) Preparation is the key to success. All of the pieces in this bag – both on the outer fabric and the lining fabric – are interfaced. This is a crucial step to the making of this pattern. You can’t skip it. It takes a fair amount of time to get it done correctly, but it must be done. I used the fusible woven interfacing suggested on the pattern – Pellon SF101. The interfacing instructions recommend that it be fused on with a damp cloth. I found this to be the only way to get an even fusing application. I was happy with how this interfacing worked in the bag. If you are using quilt weight cotton fabrics you will also want to add the other recommended layer of interfacing or fabric interlining. My fabric was heavier so I only used the fusible woven interfacing.

3) Have fun with fabric choices. There are lots of options for the design of this tote using all one fabric or several different pieces. Have fun with this part. The first bag I made from this pattern I used only two fabrics – one for the outer portion and one for the lining. I was a bit more creative when I made this pattern a second time. I would suggest that you make a sketch for yourself and label the fabrics that you want to use for your design. This helps very much when you are cutting out the pieces for the bag. A few notes will be very helpful for you later.

4) Important pockets. Determine how you would like to use your finished tote. Think about what types of pockets would be the most useful to you. The pattern is written for having large pockets with elastic on the top edges. These would be great for many things. I didn’t think those were the best choices for my bag. Don’t be afraid to change the pockets. I easily added a zipper pocket and a smaller flat pocket on the opposite side. It was a very easy addition and I’m glad I did it.

5) Magnet snaps. The pattern calls for a magnetic snap inside the front exterior pocket. I think this is a necessity for the size of this pocket. I had never used a magnetic snap before. It worked great.

You may recall I mentioned that I had done extensive online research about this pattern before I purchased it. One of the reviewers mentioned she had worked on this tote for three days – while also being a mom to a toddler. I admit I thought that was a bit odd – until I made it myself. It’s not a project that will satisfy the instant gratification need, but don’t give up. Hand in there, prepare and be patient. The finished bag is so worth the effort!

Happy Sewing!

Sara R. Sunderlin

Fabric: Keely in Indigo by Alexander Henry (outside), Blomaster in Coral by Lotta Jansdotter (lining and accent) and Purple Striped Webbing for handles.

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