This is a really image heavy post, for while I sort of apologise, but on the other hand, the fabric is amazing, so at least it's pretty :D
(I'm also writing this in between bits of work at work, so if coding is amiss, I apologise - there's something not quite right with the images, I'll fix it when I get home) - photos have now been fixed.
The first finished make of the year is an Ethel Tote from Swoon Patterns. I've had the pattern for a couple of months now (it's a free pattern that I picked up because I'd bought their Betty Bowler pattern and then decided I wanted a test project to see where I was missing knowledge). I bought the fabric before Christmas and kind of used it as a lure to make sure I got all the xmas sewing done in time.
This is a PDF pattern, with some bits that need taping together. I printed it at work, and somehow ended up with everything being about half an inch bigger than it should have been (I suspect I messed up the print settings). Never mind. Everything was still in proportion, so it didn't matter too much.
The fabric is Moda Cheery Cherries, and the lining is Kona Cypress. I bought the fabric and all notions from Plush Addict, who kindly confirmed that I had managed a decent colour match between main fabric, lining and thread (I love their colour match service)
This was the state of affairs after the first evening of cutting; all the fabric and a good proportion of the interfacing and fusible fleece. I used midweight interfacing (which I've used before) and fusible fleece (which I'd never used before and had to look up which was it should be ironed on). My dining room table isn't the best for this sort of thing, but I needed the ironing board out so I couldn't have the paste table out to cut on.
I'm not going to lie, there was a lot of ironing involved in this project. Every piece barring the internal zip pocket has interfacing, all the external (cherry) parts barring the open pocket pieces have fusible fleece, and the external bottom piece has some extra thick stabiliser to give it a bit more structure. I don't like ironing, my iron is old as balls (it's at least 13 years old) and my ironing board is probably about 20 years old and really rickety.
At this point I also realised I hadn't cut the handles. These aren't included as pattern pieces as they're simply 18x4 inch rectangles, so I cut and interfaced them, and pondered whether they were going to be long enough.
I think after that the instructions have you sew the straps up. This is pretty easy; fold in half, iron, then fold into quarters and edge stitch. This was where I decided that they definitely weren't going to be long enough, and cut two more pieces so they'd be doubled in length.
All in all they were pretty easy to put together. They're then set aside.
And then its time for the main construction. I have so many pin pricks in my hands and arms now. I'm sure there may have been an easier way to do this (actually there was, which I worked out when I did the lining) but at the time (about 22:00 on a Monday evening) it didn't seem like there was (I do most of my sewing in the evenings, which isn't the best idea really). It actually went pretty smoothly, for all the times I stabbed myself, and I was pretty pleased that it was finally starting to look like an actual bag.
I pinned the second side in, and then called it a night because I could feel myself getting stupid-tired.
I sewed the second piece to the exterior and did the lining while I was cooking my dinner (after being stuck in traffic on the way home and sulking because I was wasting good sewing time).
Then you sew the straps to the exterior, and then it's time for construction. I'm not going to lie, this was a little bit terrifying. And my sewing machine was not impressed with the number of layers I was sewing through at times.
It went ok, and my sewing machine survived! You sew from one handle all the way round until you meet it's pair, and that gap between the handles is what you turn it right side out through. This is not a big hole, probably about 4.5 inches at best, and that's a lot of fabric and stuff to haul through without splitting any stitches. My hands were killing me after doing this.
You then topstitch round the edge to seal up that remaining gap and to hold everything in place. In theory you then iron it all so it doesn't look scruffy, sadly I'd had enough of ironing by this point, and had come to the realisation that I couldn't actually get it on the ironing board. I half arsedly did a couple of bits, but it was kind of late, I was high on having finished it, and I kind of wanted to go to bed where it would be warm (Victorian buildings; great for keeping cool in the summer, hell for heating and keeping warm in winter)
And there you have it. My first bag. I'm using it today, and it fitted my lunch, my breakfast, various snacks, the novel I'm reading, my diary, two notebooks and a pencil case. And my wallet. With room to spare. And the straps are perfect.
If I were to make it again I would put a magnetic snap closure on it, as it is a bit vulnerable to thieves. I did consider this and buy a closure, but decided against putting it in. I'm sure if I really want to I could find a way of adding a closure to this.