06 February, 2007

A Place for A Tote

I am such a sucker for an shiny, new, expensive bag. Seriously, the women in the department store see me with my wide eyes and drooling mouth and practically trip over each other trying to get to me. I know a lot of people think it's a waste, but it really is something I enjoy (read: don't be looking for an apology from me anytime soon).

But I must admit, a little of my joy is somewhat zapped from me when I open my bag looking for my favorite lip gloss and instead of putting my fingers on that shiny red tube with the double crossed C's, I instead yank out a train, a car, small box of crayons, a small board book, children's chewable Tylenol, a rock, a stick, or something of the like. You get my drift. I essentially have joint custody of my bags, as more and more they seem to be catch-alls for the mini's little trinkets and treasures. But since both of the boys are now potty trained (seriously, THANK YOU JESUS!!), I really have no need to tote around a large cumbersome diaper bag anymore.

Instead, what I really decided I needed, was a multi-functional, small-ish tote bag that I can keep in the car and bring into places like restaurants and Dr's offices with us. I'm reclaiming my bags! It doesn't need to hold much. Just a pad of paper, some twistable crayons, a few little cars and trains, perhaps a book or two, and of course, let's not forget that Children's chewable Tylenol.

So as I was out running around, I ran across the cutest sort of french provincial looking brown and green scalloped place mats, and I decided they would make the cutest fabric for a tote bag. I'm sure you can see where this is headed. I picked them up, and then picked up two solid colored green rectangular place mats as well, and set off with a plan in my head.

You Will Need
2-4 place mats (4 if you want outer pockets on each side, 2 if you just want a basic tote)

thread to match your place mats

Grosgrain Ribbon for handles

Cotton webbing for handles

Since my place mats were round, this made my project a little more challenging. So in my case, I had to determine the size and shape of my bag and how I wanted it to look with the pockets. I pretty much played around with the place mats, pinning them here and there, holding up my creation, until I had it all figured out.

I decided I wanted a rectangular bag with large pocket on each side. So I placed my round place mat on top of my rectangular one, pinned them together, then cut a straight line across each side, allowing for a 1/2" seam allowance. I also had to trim off the bottom too. I then took the still pinned together round and rectangular place mat, and surged the cut ends in my sewing machine. Do that to the other set of pinned together round and rectangular place mats as well.

So now you have two halves of your bag, with all your cut edges surged. Place the two halves together, right side together, and sew along your three seams to create your bag. Use the one edge that did not have to be cut, as the top of your bag (the open side). Now, because my place mats were on the thick side, I did a strong stitch on the bag and went over it a second time just for reassurance (I mean, can't you just see me walking through the pediatrician's office with my little tote and Thomas the Tank Engine's little face falling out of a hole?). Once that's done, then flip the bag right-side out, and use an unsharpened pencil to stick inside to poke the corners of the bag out really well.

Now we're onto the handles. If you want, you could just use grosgrain ribbon for the handles. I wanted a slightly sturdier handle for myself, so I sewed my grosgrain ribbon to the cotton webbing. Very easy. Then all I did was sew each handle to the bag and I was done. Check it out on the left here. Simple as that, and I've now regained full custody of all my bags!

For a variation of the bag I made, you can also check out complete instructions on how to make this place mat bag at J Caroline Creative. I’ve mentioned them before and they really are a superb source for all things creative. So if you didn’t take my word for it last time I mentioned them, then make sure you do this time, or seriously, you are on your own. Still looking for more design options? Then perhaps this boxy monogrammed number will suit your fancy. And just in case it does, you know I’m not leaving you to figure it out on your own (not that I doubt your ability). You can get detailed instructions complete with step by step photo’s over at Crafters Vision. Now, I’ve never been to nor heard of this Crafters Vision site. So being the curious person I am, you know I looked around a bit. And you know what? They had several more place mat purse designs to chose from, all with great, detailed instructions and photos. And you know monogram momma is all about giving you options, so if you want to do the “original” place mat purse then go here. But are you still looking for a more versatile bag to match your preppy look from day to day? Then you definitely want to check out the Quick Change Purse where changing the look of your bag is as simple as changing out your grosgrain ribbon (and I know all you preppy girls are up to your headbands in grosgrain).


Chloe said...

Crafters Vision is fab, I use them all the time and they are super fast with delivery. They once over charged me on shipping and gave it back to me in store credit. I wouldn't have even noticed this unless they had emailed me. Fabness!

Amber Lee said...

Placemat bags and those knotted fleece blankets are the big gifts the girls at my college make each other for gifts.

Anonymous said...

Those placemats are adorable! Where are they from?

Alyson said...

I love the bag! Great job MM!

Melissa said...

You are seriously way too clever and crafty. I am so jealous. That is way cute!

cel said...

girl, you are the next verra bradley- love this idea pop in the wash after applesauce cup explosion and good to go- not so with said coach bag...thanks!

Monogram Momma said...

I picked up the Placemats at Steinmart! But I also noticed the exact same placemats in the Ballard Design Catalog so check there. They had them in another color as well.

And cel you are So right about that exploding applesauce! LOL

Libby said...

Wow, MM, well done! Seriously super cute!

Preppy Rider said...

What a precious idea... you are so talented! I am going to start watching for adorable fabric and may need a tote of my very own soon (variety of diaper bag options ;) This is one I think I can handle!

suburban prep said...

the bags are seriously cute.
wonderful job.

Erin said...

You make me want to run right out and buy a sewing machine! Such a cute idea!

sewgracious said...

Way cute bags! :-)

For those who do not sew (and have not desire to learn), I invite them to visit my website at http://www.sewgracious.com I create boutique bags that are perfect when Mommies-on-the-Go don't need to take the kitchen sink along. ;-) They are great totes and handbags for ladies who don't have little ones as well.

RED said...

all I can say is WOW and WOW! I am so impressed (as I always find I am after a visit here). So creative and careful, I'm so jealous. You are awesome. Keep up the impressive hands-on activities!

melissa c said...

So cute - sute creative talent!!