Poolside Tote

Poolside tote debut, a la Mexique

I made this Poolside Tote for our family trip to Mexico last November. That’s one great thing about warm weather travels; we were gone for a week and I only packed one small carryon bag of clothes, and my Poolside with books and things to do. Anna’s pattern was easy to follow, and the bag turned out both roomy and sturdy. It’s absolutely a pattern I’d make again, so I kept some notes as reminders for next time.

Native habitat of the Poolside Tote

  • Fabric – I used a Home Dec weight bird print for the exterior with gold duck cloth interior, and quilting cotton for handles, accent, and facing. This all worked well. Using the heavier canvas makes it easy to align pieces, but is trickier to manage on the sewing machine. Definitely a good idea to use a darker fabric on the exterior, even if you’re careful about where you set it down.
  • Interfacing – used Pellon Craft Fuse 808. Thought this would be too thick on the handles, but sewed easily and came out sturdy. The handles do show wrinkles now that I’ve been using the bag for a few months.
  • Pocket – pay attention to the print orientation when cutting out the pocket. I cut and interfaced a pocket from the exterior fabric without thinking about directional print, but then noticed that the background has a decided orientation that didn’t flow with the front of the bag. The second, un-interfaced pocket is a little floppy, so I may add a closure.
  • Facing – using a line of basting stitches to follow the curved edge works really well, but don’t forget to clip the curve. I waited until the body of the bag was assembled before joining the facing into a full ring, so I could adjust the size if needed. Really needs a good ironing once the facing is attached to get it to lay smooth on the inside of the bag. Edgestitch really close to the bottom, or possibly hand stitch it down. Would look neat with a contrast color in a blanket stitch.
  • Adding the lining – my lining was a little too tall in several places, so I trimmed it even with the exterior after carefully aligning and pinning the seams and curved edges and pushing the lining down into the corners of the bag. I think this was partially due to my cutting process, which should really happen on a big table and not the carpeted floor. I may also cut the lining slightly shorter next time, about ½ inch. Definitely baste the top of the exterior/lining together to keep things from shifting around.
  • Turning the corners of the curve when sewing down the facing – this biggest issue I had with this project. The bulk of the handle under the lining forced the presser foot and pulled the needle out of alignment, so it skipped back into place when I started sewing. I’m not really sure if this is an issue with my machine, materials, or something I’m doing, so I guess it’s just try, try again!
  • Edge stitching – get closer to the edge to avoid having the edge of the fabric lift up. No big deal, just keep in mind for next time.
  • Handle accents – don’t forget to remove the basting stitches. Definitely don’t use the bag for months and ignore them.
  • Fancy ideas for future bags – add interior pockets, zip pocket w/ interesting pull, blanket stitch the facing with contrasting thread), make coordinating zipper pouches to stack inside (a big one for knitting, smaller ones for wallet/keys, etc.)