The Customized Tote Bag – Just the right size

The Customized Tote Bag – Just the right size
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This year I did something a little different for the family Christmas swap. I have heard these gift swaps called dirty Santa, white elephant swaps, or in the case of my family we call it Yankee Swap – or to be more correct we call it South Carolina Yankee Swap. The family really gets into it. Since the swap involves stealing gifts, we have a long standing rule that you must be at least 13 in order to play. There is no whining, crying, or complaining if you had a great gift and then someone takes your gift and you are stuck with the mop slippers – As seen on TV. (Real life example there, and yes I did try them!) In previous years I would search high and low to find the exciting gift. The gift I was sure would be something that will be wanted enough to be stolen many times. For some reason we like to add the element of suspense of not knowing who put what in. My gifts are easily identified since I sew my own gift bags. One of these days I will have inundated the family with so many of my fabric gift bags that we will all be using them and no one will have the giveaway that it is my gift. What does it say about me that I would rather sew a bag for a gift than wrap one with paper? I like to think that I am being environmentally responsible by creating a reusable wrap, but truthfully I am a horrible wrapper. I have no talent for wrapping gifts. I confess when the boys were little I would pass off my gifts as being wrapped by them. Bad Mama!

Since my gift is not easily disguised, I used it to my advantage. I talked up my gifts that Charlie and I were putting in the swap. Lots of smack talk about how great they were and how happy I would be to get to take them back home with me. Instead of buying something, I put in hand made gifts. I even created a Pinterest Board with some ideas and directed the family to identify items they would like to see in the swap. I seldom take the time to do selfish sewing, so if Charlie and I ended up coming home with the gifts we put in the swap, I was going to be as pleased as can be. I made a casserole carrier that my sister Maria was very happy to get. She had suggested that as an option. I almost went ahead and monogrammed it for her before sticking it in the swap. My sister Maureen was the final steal on the tote bag. I wrapped a sample bag that I made for my friend’s daughter as an example with a note attached that I would sew a custom bag. I was excited that my gifts were so well received!

I finally finished Maureen’s bag and I will be popping it in the mail this week. It was fun customizing the tote for Maureen. I love how it looks fancier than a typical tote bag, but is not a full on purse. Maureen’s initials are MMM, so she said she would prefer a single big blue M over having a monogram. Maureen did not have many requirements, just asked if I could make the bag big enough for her to put a note pad in it. So I set to work to make her a bag that would work well for her. Maureen is pretty tiny, so I did not want to make the bag too big. I also wanted the straps to be long enough that she could wear it over her shoulder, but not so long that the straps would slide off her shoulder. For the fabric choice I knew I wanted to incorporate bicycles somehow. Maureen is an Iron Man athlete and I wanted the bag to reflect her hobby and still be pretty – like Maureen. I found this great bicycle fabric that I used to line the bag.

I also used some batting to give the bag some body, but still have a soft feel to it.
I added three interior pockets and sized them so that glasses could slide into one pocket, her phone or a checkbook will fit in the middle, and one that is narrow enough to securely hold a pen.  I added a patch pocket on the back.

Let me know if you would like for me to do a tutorial. I have not mentioned before that I have five sisters – no brothers. Plenty of women in my life to sew for, or I could make one for myself!

Comments (2)

  • Always been a little jealous of your sewing skills. I did get a sewing machine as a newly wed. So I have only myself to blame.

    • No need to be jealous! It just takes a little time and practice. You are way more artistic than me, so if you want to learn I would be glad to help you. I have to say that having a great machine that sews so straight makes it easy. Love my Husqvarna machines!

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