Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Perfect Tote

Just as we quilters and sewers can never have too much fabric, we can never have too many bags. With so many different patterns, sizes, features, and fabrics to choose from, it's always easy to find another one you "have" to make! 

We're pretty sure that you'll be adding Maria Pate's Lavender and Leather tote, featured in the May/June 2015 issue of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting to your summer to-do list. Not only does it contain all of the features that Maria considers necessary in a "perfect tote" (see her answer below), but it's made using our summery Piccadilly line combined with leather. That's right--leather! This soft calf leather (the white patches in the photo) is one of our newer products and gives this bag a little something extra. Plus it's easy to work with! Be sure to ask your local quilt shop to order some! Keep reading to learn more about this tote.

"Lavender and Leather" by Maria Pate;
featured in Love of Quilting May/June 2015

Q.  What can you tell us about working with leather?
Maria: Well, it depends on the type of leather you are using. The leather I used in the tote bag is calf leather, which is about the thickness of corduroy and just as pliable. You don't want to use anything thicker than that for patchwork as it is harder to cut, bend, and sew. Calf leather can be cut with your standard rotary cutter and sewn with a universal sewing needle and regular sewing thread. I have ironed on the leather but I used a pressing cloth to protect it.
When sewing with leather, you want to keep the leather on the bottom so that the feed dogs of your machine will push the textile through. You can use a Teflon foot or even put a piece of scotch tape on the bottom of your foot to help it slide over the leather more easily but I have found that by just keeping the leather on the bottom when piecing it with cotton is the easiest. When you do combine leather with cotton, you always want to press your seams toward the cotton as that is the natural way the seam will want to lay and you don't want to fight the leather.
Another important thing to remember when sewing with leather is that once you have stitched through it, the holes that the stitches make are there forever so if you have to use pins, make sure you pin in the seam allowance and not in the middle of the leather where the holes will show.

Q. What did you like about using the leather in your design?
Maria: I really like the added texture that the leather accents gave to the tote.

Q. Can you talk about the 2 different designs for the sides of the bags?
Maria: I chose to make the sides of the bag different so that it could be almost like a reversible bag and have two looks in one.

Q. What was your vision in creating all of the small patchwork pieces?
Maria: There actually is a very specific layout to the patchwork. I wanted it to look scrappy but still organized. The pieces are put together in 3" finished blocks, then into 6" x 9" panels, and finally the three panels are sewn together. I like to have the design look complicated but make the piecing simple so anyone can do it. This is the approach I take with all my designs and patterns. I give detailed instructions with tons of pictures and even arrows for pressing directions. I want all levels of quilters and sewers to feel that they can try any of my patterns and know they will be successful.
Also, if you look closely, you will see that the leather pieces are always next to cotton pieces. The patchwork side is made in three panels and I designed it so that when you sew the panels together, you would not have to sew with leather on both the top and bottom pieces. That way when you press, you can always press toward the cotton side.

Q. What do you like best about the bag?
Maria: Where do I begin? Let's see.....it's deep enough to carry a laptop or a notebook without it sticking out of the top and hitting you in the elbow, the pockets are deep enough so that you can store your sunglasses or phone without having to worry about them getting scratched, and I made the straps with both stabilizer and fusible fleece so that they are comfortable if you do have to carry anything heavy. Also, I added feet to the bottom to help protect it from wear and put a magnetic clasp in for added security. I basically thought about all the things I didn't like about bag patterns I had seen or made in the past and improved and combined them with this one to create what I think is the perfect tote.

Q. What do you envision using the tote bag for?

Maria: Fabric shopping, of course! This would be a great bag for any kind of shopping or for toting your laptop or notebook too, but I think mine will be used for fabric shopping. ;-)

See the Piccadilly collection here.
Find the digital Lavender and Leather tote bag pattern here.
Find information about the Love of Quilting episode where Maria makes this tote here.
Find Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine here.

No comments:

Post a Comment