A thank-you tote

A thank-you tote


I have a tradition of making end-of-year teacher gifts.  It makes for a busy end of November/early December, but my girls enjoy giving handmade items just as much as I enjoy sewing them.  And they are ALWAYS well received.  In many cases, I want to keep the present for myself… and this bag was no exception.


The tote pattern is my own, nothing too ground breaking really, but I think the icing on the cake are the leather straps.  I purchased some satchel weight leather from The Fabric Store and cut the straps to size.  This task was made easy by my leather strap cutter.  My sewing machine is not a fan of sewing leather, so I opted to use double capped rivets to secure the handles to the bag.


I hadn’t worked with double capped rivets before, so there were some new skills to learn and some new tools to purchase.  I made a special trip across town to Leffler Leather to buy what I required and they were out-of-stock of most of the rivet sizes and finishes.  I always find Leffler’s overwhelming at the best of times, and it’s service is patchy, so I turned my focus to online shopping.

I found Adelaide Leather & Sadderly Supplies’ online store to be well stocked and easy to navigate.  Being a rivet newbie, I had a few questions and their over the phone advice was exemplary.  I purchased the rivets I need, as well as a two piece rivet setter & anvil and they were in my mailbox two days later.  I smiled when I opened the package as they’d wrapped my items in bubble wrap and packed in into a recycled food box.  Waste not, want not!


I learnt the hard way… breathe… that it is really important to use the right sized rivet for the job.  The shaft of the rivet should be a few millimeters longer than the materials you are joining together.  Speaking from experience, a rivet which is too long for the job creates a skewed red hot mess.  Naughty words were muttered, tears nearly flowed.


I honed my bag making skills using patterns from bag making expert Nicole Mallalieu of You Sew Girl fame (see here & here).  My three top bag making tips are:

  • Accurate cutting of pattern pieces makes for easier sewing
  • Grade your seam allowances to reduce bulk.  It really does make a difference
  • Secure the bag lining to the outer fabric within the seam allowances of the boxed corners

I’ve been keeping a secret… Nani Iro innards!



I feel like I broke some bag making rules, but I didn’t use any interfacing or fusible fleece on this bag.  I was after a bag that was sturdy, but still soft.  In my eyes, the denim is a hard wearing outer and the  cotton/linen lining adds a little more structure without it being stiff.  And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to look inside their bag and see such beautiful fabric?

I see more of these totes in my future… yes plural.  I’ve even purchased some more Nani Iro fabric from Kelani Fabric.  Here’s hoping I might get to keep at least one tote for myself!


Pattern:  Self drafted tote bag
All remnants… the denim was from Rathdowne Fabrics, the Nani Iro was from Tessuti & the leather was from The Fabric Store.
Accessories:  Funkis shoes… brought ‘as new’ from a local recycled clothes shop
Photo Location:  My garden




Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.