I’ve become a big fan of Blue Calla patterns lately. I enjoyed making the Dahlia Drawstring Bag but wanted to try my hand at something a bit bigger to showcase some Harris Tweed and Essex Linen. I was drawn to the Mimosa Market Tote for being so roomy with plenty of utilitarian pockets, inside and out.
The pattern itself does have elements of the Dahlia Drawstring Bag with the smaller panels at the front and back and larger, wrap around panels on the side. The side panels have exterior zip pockets which are nice and large and there are also slip pockets inside. The bag is fastened by a flap which you can use either a magnetic snap or twist lock to secure.
I chose a lovely herringbone Harris Tweed that I sourced from the Lil Shop of Harris Tweed on Facebook. The flecks of pale pink and aqua add a nice twist to a very traditional herringbone tweed. I have to admit to having a bit of a love affair with Harris Tweed. It is the only fabric product in the world that is produced in large, commercial quantities by using traditional methods. I love that the colours reflect the colours of the Scottish Isles and you have to feel it to believe that it isn’t scratchy!!! I promise. To complement the tweed, I picked a yarn dyed Essex Linen from Sew Hot for the side panels. These two fabrics do make really lovely bag-fellows.
Cutting out took forever and, not only that, it got a little bit confusing in places. Maybe it’s me, but I struggle when the pattern asks you to use one pattern piece but then calls for you to fold it over to make another pattern piece. Lots of Post It Notes needed. It does help if you are using lots of contrasting fabrics as it will give you an idea of which pieces are which. I think next time I make it, I will print out two pattern pieces and label them individually to save all the folding and unfolding on the dotted lines! Hopefully, with a bit of practice, cutting time will also be reduced.
Just as with the Dahlia, I used Pellon FlexFoam on the front and back panel and fusible fleece in the side panels – I think it gives the bag that little bit of extra structure – and, although I iron on my SF101 or G700 (woven interfacing), I now only sew in any other kind of stabiliser or interfacing. I’ve just had too many disasters with peeling and puckering. I’m using up my iron on stock of FlexFoam by ironing calico onto the sticky side of the foam. Another small expense but it actually gives it a much more hardwearing feel, too!
Base construction is made easy as the designer, Celine, has marked where your bag feet need to be – a little touch that would be nice on more patterns – I clip the pattern piece to the base and use my punch to make the hole through the leather and the pattern piece. I love how stitching the Peltex to the base with a large seam allowance gives you a nice design touch. If I was braver, I might consider using a decorative stitch or a contrasting thread!
After you have installed the zips and constructed the sides, sewing the main body of the bag is just sewing 4 straight lines. Easy! The top stitching is simple, too, until you get to the final panel as you are effectively sewing inside, however, I never have a problem with this just by taking my time and making sure the fabric you don’t want to stitch is out of the way!
The rest of the bag comes together easily. I did graduate the lining a significant amount towards the bottom maybe up to 6/8 inch but it fits perfectly with no sagginess. I added plastic cross stitch canvas to the base, under the lining, to give even more strength to the bottom of the bag.
Finally, the straps. This is where I started to lose the will to live! I’ve made straps using the method outlined in the pattern before where you sew two pieces of vinyl/fabric or, in my case, recycled eco leather together, having already added the D rings. This leaves you with a circle where you fold the fabric into the middle and then flatten the strap and sew together. Could I do it? Could I get it neat? I don’t know why but everything was against me trying to get a decent finish on the straps. Because I wanted to charge a high end price for this bag, I admitted defeat and used proper leather straps which, looking back, I wish I’d done at the start!
Overall, this bag took me 6 hours to make but I think I could get that down to 4. The sewing bit is easy there is just a lot of cutting and fusing. This pattern uses an astronomical amount of SF101!!!!
Thanks for a great pattern, Celine……I have sourced some beautiful Scandinavian matt oilcloth that will make a gorgeous Foxglove, I just have to pluck up the courage to start it! Watch this space!