I’ve been following Noodlehead since I started quilting and it honestly never dawned on me to make one of her bags. It never dawned on me to make a bag period!
The hardware and lots of pieces intimidated me a bit. I toyed around with the idea of making some simple tote bags, but I have so many tote bags. Free bag with this purchase, free bag with that purchase, etc, etc. If I was going to make something it was going to be awesome and not even in the same realm as a free tote!
When I saw the Noodlehead Explorer tote I knew it was time to take the plunge. The pattern is very cute and although I made this version exactly as the pattern says it also has a lot of potential for hacking. I’m thinking magnetic snaps instead of a zipper, no front flap, extra pockets on the inside, the smaller version with the cross body strap; so many possibilities!
I had purchased some waxed canvas 2 years ago from Gather Here when I toyed with the idea of the tote bag so I decided to use what I had on hand and make the entire bag with it. This cut down my number of steps because I didn’t have to interface the main body of the bag. The lining fabric, Biology, is also from Gather Here.
I found conflicting information about whether waxed canvas can be ironed so I used a scrap to test it out. The test piece seemed fine and was much easier to handle post ironing. Once it cooled off though it was back to it’s rugged-ish texture. I decided to go ahead and iron all of the yardage.
My iron leaked a bit and left some discoloration on the bag, but it looks sort of cool. I think if you keep your iron to a no steam setting and don’t have a leaking iron like I do you’ll be fine to iron it. My piece of fabric had been folded in the closet for 2 years so getting those creases out of it before cutting was important to me. You can see the color “issues” here.
I used my walking foot for most of the construction and found it must easier when going over the bulky areas than with my regular foot. The walking foot also helped with the topstitching (and there’s quite a bit of top stitching!). Instead of following the directions for where to put the top stitching I just used different little bits and bobs of my walking foot and followed along. This made my life a lot easier and my top stitching is very even and straight.
I ordered a small turn lock, but I got sick of waiting for my order to arrive and decided to just go with the only turn lock they had at JoAnns. It matched the rivet I had used on the back pocket so I’m fine with it, but the one I ordered was cuter.
This was my first time installing hardware other than rivets and jean buttons! I won’t lie, I was intimidated. You have to cut a hole in your flap to install the turn lock so if it’s too big, you have to start over. Mine looks a little crooked, but not so much that I would redo it. I’ve ordered some more in various colors to keep on hand from Pacific Trimmings so I’ll be prepared for future bag making endeavors. Here I am pulling my lip balm out of the back pocket, with it’s lovely rivet!
The thing I liked the least about making this bag is also something about quilting that irks me. No pattern pieces! For this bag I drew the pieces onto my fabric and then cut them out, but since the waxed canvas yardage was so large it meant I couldn’t see the grid of my cutting mat which is something I pay very close attention to when cutting out pieces for quilting. I can use a ruler to get the right size, but the giant grid makes me feel better about lining everything up exactly right. Since I really like this bag I decided to make my life easier for future versions and cut the pieces out using poster board from the craft store.
Speaking of future versions, I already have one in the works. I found a seller on Etsy who hand waxes cotton, linen, denim and canvas so there are over 50 combinations available! For $10 I ordered swatches of all 50 so I can plan ahead.
And one last photo for you, the inside of my bag! I’ve only been using it for a few days, but of course it’s already filling up!
Special thanks to Derek from my work for taking these pictures while he had the camera setup to take head shots!