241 tote

241 tote

This week, I’ve been mostly bag-makin’. With, I’d fairly say, mixed success. The idea of making a new bag has been hovering around my to-sew list for a while. While I’m totally not a bag-obsessive type of person (I own exactly one everyday bag at a time and wear it into the ground) it’s such a pain to find one I like when the time to replace it comes that the idea to sew my own seemed kind of obvious. I’ve been slowly beavering away inspiration and pattern and fabric options. Here’s some of that pinspiration (click through to the post to see the pins below if you’re in a reader):

In the end I chose the Noodlehead 241 tote pattern in grey faux leather. It’s the second Noodlehead bag pattern I’ve made – my mum is still toting her Poolside everywhere. The pattern is called 241 because you can either include the zipped front pockets, or leave them off for a more straightforward sew. I liked the look of them so chose the harder route, but soon began to wish I hadn’t.

241 tote

My faux leather, while nice quality (it’s this imitation napa from My Fabrics) and easy to cut and sew, was a tricky one when it came to any step requiring pressing, such as making the strap or zip pocket openings. It melted at the mere sight of an iron, so I simply couldn’t get a crisp and neat press. In the end I shot it with steam from the lining side and clamped some heavy books on it for a while to help the shape ‘set’. You also can’t use pins because they’ll leave a permanent mark, so a lot of sticky tape was deployed. Hence those front zips look decidedly amateur with the lining poking out, unpicking marks left around one of them, and the zip tape openings showing at each end. Yucks.

241 tote

Maybe I’ll just wear it backwards with the plain side facing out all the time, ha ha, because otherwise I am fairly happy with it. I printed the pattern at 110% size to make it just a little larger, and I like that the base has darts which add some 3D roominess. It’s not included in the pattern, but I used this tutorial to make the strap adjustable in length. The rectangular brass rings and sliders are from Bobbin Girl.

241 tote

Construction was quite simple, zips and fabric issues aside. It’s bagged out like any normal lined bag – I used a Cotton and Steel print inside. It closes with a magnetic snap at the top.


Here’s how it looks in use. To be honest even though I’m not 100% happy with the construction I will probably use it anyway since my previous bag is really tatty by now. I wouldn’t discount making the pattern again, but maybe in a friendlier fabric with more attention to detail on the zip insertion. I’m off to sew something way more fun now…

22 thoughts on “241 tote

  1. AvatarKathryn

    I think it looks amazing! Seriously, no one would look at those zippers and think they look bad. They would be too busy thinking ‘what, you made that??’.

    I really want to try making this bag in a mix of wool and leather, I’ll probably use the wool for the panel with zips as it seems pretty tricky to get a good finish. I took a couple of leather handbag making courses at London College of Fashion and have a massive appreciation for anyone working with leather as it’s so unforgiving. It was interesting from a sewers perspective to see how different the construction methods are, a lot of toxic glue is used to stick pieces together or glue seams open which are then reinforced with topstitching.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Wool and leather sounds perfecto. I’ve seen a film of the making of a Dior (I think) bag and it’s mind-boggling. I sort of get why they charge such crazy prices!

  2. AvatarRachel

    I think the lining poking out around the zippers gives it interest! Plus, it ties in the whole look when you can see the lining poking out when you’re wearing it. I think you did a great job for working with such a tricky fabric and that bag is too cute!

  3. Avatarlisa g

    I like this bag a lot! I can see how the leather would be tricky to work with around the zips though. You almost need to just cut out the opening instead of turning it in as with regular fabric. Interesting! Will definitely check out this pattern as I could really use a new bag myself.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yeah, I was considering something like that but couldn’t think how I’d attach the pocket bag in that case. Next time, a more pressable fabric!

  4. AvatarTatiana

    I think your bag looks so cool and I want to make one exactly like yours! I agree with Rachel that lining around the zippers adds interest and ties in with the overall look nicely. Other people will not look at the zipper ends and unpicking marks, so don’t worry about them.

  5. AvatarCaroline

    Good effort Katie – you should definitely still use this bag as it looks stylish and cool! Maybe try again in a more forgiving chambray / denim / corduroy combination!?

  6. AvatarSonja

    This really looks great! No one else will notice the things that bug you. But, I feel your pain… it’s not an easy fabric to work with! But it looks really fashionable and cool!

  7. AvatarGia

    The bag looks great!
    I agree with Sonja above, only you notice those little details. Everyone else sees a really cute, well-made bag.
    I do the same thing with bags. I make one just the way I like it and then wear it until it starts to deteriorate. It’s always sad to see them go……

  8. AvatarHannah

    It’s a shame the zips have you such grief – I think the bag looks really cool, so I hope you still enjoy using it once you get over the frustration!

  9. AvatarJenny Gale

    It looks fantastic! You’re probably the only person who’ll notice any zip issues and you’ll soon forget when people start complimenting your new arm candy!

  10. Avatarcrab&bee

    I can see what you mean about the un-crips seams in your detail shots but it looks great in the pic where you’re wearing it! I wonder if it’s just one of those projects that will improve the further you get from the construction of it. And maybe the seams will settle a bit as the bag is filled and used. It’s a really cool design and scaling up made it perfect.

  11. AvatarKatie

    What a great purse!! I made one of Noodlehead’s bags over the summer (the Caravan Tote), and I love it as a bag, but I think this has more of a classic purse look – which is awesome. Don’t beat yourself up over any of the issues you see with it – I think it looks awesome! I’m definitely making a note of this bag, my Caravan bag is getting too dirty! Time to replace!

  12. AvatarRenataLaura

    Agree, it looks gorgeous and useful. I hate real leather won’t use secondhand either, this fabric seems soft and photos well not too shiny – tempted on the burgandy colour! The moon shape of the bag is really trendy too.

  13. AvatarRochelle New

    I love this! The 241 tote is on my 2016MakeNine list and I’m still trying to decide what fabric to use for it. I’m in exactly the same boat with bags (carry one and run it into the ground) so I want to make sure I pick a really versatile goes-with-everything fabric. I know the zipper issues would bug me too, but I really love how your bag looks in the last photo! The little peek of lining fabric has a piping kind of vibe and I think it adds an extra element of visual interest and color! Wear it proud :)

  14. AvatarAlessa

    Great bag, it looks fab in the pleather! Honestly, I think you can probably hardly see the not-quite-perfect zipper from a couple meters away, anyway. :) The pattern and pocket placement look quite interesting.
    I’ve also been procrastinating on bag making… Maybe next week. ;-)

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