The Crooked Pocket Tote Bag Conundrum

I had some fun the last couple of days putting together a basic tote bag for my niece (by request from her). It came out pretty big; I’m hoping it’s not too big for her 11-year-old frame. Because to make it the right size would have required me to actually plan out its finished size and then, um, MEASURE the damn pieces, which always just seems so, well, measurey-measurey, and who needs that? (A-hem, I think maybe I do.)

Tote Bag

Anyway, I made it reversible, but at the last minute I couldn’t help but install a magnetic snap on the inside–they’re just such a nice touch on a bag and add a bit more professionalism. I suppose it could still be flipped inside out if my niece really wanted to and didn’t mind that the snaps would show on the outside.

Tote Bag lining

Speaking of professionalism (pfffft), I sewed the contrasting pocket on crooked! Here’s how pathological I am when I’m working on something and don’t want to be ‘slowed down’. I pinned that damn pocket without checking whether it was truly centred or straight. I just EYEBALLED it, fercrissake. And it didn’t even occur to me while doing so that maybe I should double check that it was in the right place. Pathological. Really, I’m thinking about renaming this blog Measure Once, Cut Twice.

Tote Bag with crooked pocket!

Tote Bag with crooked pocket!

So now I have this birthday present for my niece with a crooked pocket on the outside. What would you do? These are the options:

I’m heavily leaning towards — surprise! — the last option. Happy birthday, kid! Just don’t look too closely at your present!

Tote Bag

Tote Bag by Request

My 11-year-old niece, who lives in Beijing, came for a sleep-over visit yesterday. She and I are like two peas in a pod: both really into creative, crafty things. She dutifully said “that’s cool!” and “awesome!” to all the handmade stuff I showed her (knitting, jewelry, sewing), and we spent time making bracelets and necklaces together.

I suggested that we could sew a bag for her and she got really excited. We drew some ideas and decided it had to be big enough for her to carry her books and laptop (that kid’s got a MacBook Pro — sheesh), so a tote bag it is. At first she decided she wanted it made from the leftover green woodgrain fabric I used in my retro tank top, but when we brought it to the fabric store to find matching lining fabric, all bets were off. Like a good little mini-me she lost her marbles when we went into The Workroom and she saw all the cute cotton prints, and we spent quite a while choosing her favourites.

Let me introduce you to The Workroom’s resident dog. I’m assuming this must be either Gordon or Maisy, judging by the sign on the front door. S/he is sporting a lovely cotton apron.(!) Through the glass you can just make out the shelves of colour-coordinated fabric on the left wall.

The resident dog at The Workroom in Parkdale

The resident dog at The Workroom in Parkdale

And here’s the fabric my niece decided on for her bag. She’s got a good eye for colour, that one.

Blue & white cotton prints for the tote bag.

Blue & white cotton prints for the tote bag.

We bought the nylon strapping at Designer Fabrics just a few doors down. It’s navy blue, but it was the closest match we could find.

By the time we finished our fabric shopping it was time for my niece to go back to her family, so we decided I would sew the bag for her and give it to her for her birthday in July. I’m thinking I’ll go with a simple rectangle shape, fold a pleat at the corners to give it a few inches of width at the sides, and either make it reversible or perhaps make it one-sided and put a magnetic snap closure on the inside at the top. I’ve often used New Look 6467 (View A) to make tote bags, but I’m thinking I’ll just wing this one. What would you do with it? Do you have a favourite go-to bag pattern?

The New Look 6467 bag pattern that I've used a lot in the past.

The New Look 6467 bag pattern that I’ve used a lot in the past. View A is my fave.