1930′s Reproduction Pleated Tote Bag

My friend, Pam encouraged me to enter the San Diego Quilt show tote bag contest. To celebrate the Quilt Show’s 30th anniversary, the challenge was to create a tote bag using 1930’s reproduction fabric or fabric that is at least 30 years old. It was timely that my running partner (and long-time friend), Fely, sent me THIS TUTORIAL for a pleated tote bag. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone (my goodness, there’s got to be a better analogy) and make this tote using 1930’s reproduction fabric. It’s odd that I say that—After making this tote, I was informed that this pattern was based off Amy Butler’s “Birdie Tote.”

I had a few friends over for a “Craft-Tea” (get it?—crafty) and started on this project. The tutorial was a bit vague as far as what the seam allowances were and the accuracy of measurements. But looking at the photos, Pam and I deduced that it was a 1/2″ seam allowance and it worked. I guess if you didn’t know what you were doing it would be tough to figure out. I made a zippered pocket in the lining and a few pockets in the inside (because we all need more pockets in our bags).

I hand-drew the pattern on freezer paper (using rulers as guides, of course). But still, my measurements were inaccurate. Luckily, they were larger than needed and it wasn’t too hard to modify the pattern. Personal lessons learned: measure TWICE (without talking to people) cut ONCE. I guess that’s the challenge with having friends over while making a pattern — interesting conversation = inability to look at a ruler correctly. But I’d take interesting conversations over a stinkin’ ruler any day! (And of course, I’ll fix my mistakes when everyone leaves.)

After many years toting the same bag to the beach, our trusty beach bag finally broke and I plan to use this as a replacement—Although, I may have to keep it in pristine condition in the case that it gets accepted as a contender for the quilt show. But that may be a long-shot. I just want to enter for fun.

This is a large bag with the bottom being 20 inches. It will fit beach items for two people, so I may need to make a larger bag to fit enough stuff for four. Maybe my next project will be a tote bag with a larger gusset. I just might have the perfect fabric for that!