09 Apr

Another Pattern Review

Just to add another dimension to my already schizophrenic blog, I seem to be on a roll with commercial patterns and I think the best way to share them is to do a review. So here’s another pattern review:

Like the Heather Bailey apron, I saw a peek of the Anna Maria Horner’s Multi Tasker Tote and knew I wanted it — but had to wait for it to be published. Luckily the wait this time was less than a year. Kathy of Pink Chalk Fabrics was potentially first in line to stock the patterns and I think I was first in her line to order one. She ships fast and I was off and sewing right away.

Description:
A roomy tote bag with integrated outer side pockets. The bag’s big side panels are perfect for bold prints as shown on the pattern, but also leave room for adaptations like mine. I love the side pockets as an opportunity for coordinating fabric (the more fabrics, the better in my book).

Instructions:
The instructions are very complete with lots of diagrams. At first glance some steps might look a little weird, but as soon as you have the actual pieces in front of you it all makes sense. I spotted two typos and noticed that although the pattern piece for the strap says to cut two out of interfacing as well as your fabric, the outer panel pattern piece does not (even though you DO need to cut two out of interfacing). Luckily, the written instructions are very clear about what you need to cut out of what and the typos are inconsequential.

Degree of Difficulty:
Although this is not a difficult pattern, there are some steps that may be a bit tricky for an absolute beginner — mostly in terms of wrestling odd shapes under one’s sewing machine foot. It should be a piece of cake for an intermediate sewer though. Sometimes I see something and I can figure out how to make it myself, but this one has a bit of ingenious construction, so I’m glad I bought the pattern and learned a new trick or two to add to my toolbox of sewing skills.

Modifications:
It’s probably obvious that I modified my tote a bit. I deconstructed one of Mr. Incredible‘s old uniforms for my outer panel fabric. The side in the first picture is the back of the uniform “blouse” with the nice big side pocket from his pants. I added a name tape and branch insignia in totally non-official places. I used the cinch-y thing from the pants and a cuff from the blouse for quasi-usable decoration. The other side is essentially the front of the blouse with the two lower pockets, and including the button placket, although it opens to nothing (if I were really high-speed I would have sewn an inner lining behind the button placket so there’d be a hidden Napoleon-style side entry pocket). Another cinch-y thing, jump wings, insignia from another branch, and a tape you can’t see that says US Army dress it up a bit. On the insideĀ  I used the upper pocket from the uniform blouse because it has an awesome inner pocket for a pen (photo above). The other side of the interior has the pocket included in the pattern, although I used the ribbon that cinches up the bottom of the uniform pants instead of the fabric loop from the instructions (photo below). The shoulder straps are from the length of the pants and include a bit of the double layered sections that reinforce the knee and inner thighs (adds nothing to the functionality of the straps, just a couple of decorative seams).

Conclusion:
I’m very pleased with the pattern and the finished product. I appreciate when something looks equally handsome in real life as it does in the photos on the package. I would definitely recommend this pattern. I give it 12 muffins too (though not literally this time).

13 thoughts on “Another Pattern Review

  1. I love the combo of the recycled (repurposed) fabric with the pretty floral. Do you use the pockets? I find that I don’t end up using tote pockets. Or I forget what is in them!! But that is my life. I like having a place for every thing, but I don’t always get every thing in its place.

  2. I LOVE IT! LL Bean has now has the digital camo for book bags, etc. I still like the old pattern better. I really like the addition of the name band.

  3. Wow, fabulous combination of materials. I absolutely LOVE the pocket on the inside. You have an amazing talent for putting your signature on everything you create!

  4. Thank you for this review. I have been wondering about getting this pattern, and now I definitely will!
    You have made a great job of incorporating all the “useful bits” of that old uniform to make your bag unique, and I love the combo of Army and Flower Power!

  5. What a wonderful bag! My first ventures with designing my own bags revolved around using up old usmc camis. Yours is far & away my favorite! You’ve got a wonderful website; I bookmarked you. Thank you!

  6. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  7. Your bag looks great. I like the re-use element. I’m in the middle of making the same bag & a little baffled by steps 5 & 6 of the exterior & pocket panel section (second section I think). It says to match the triple notches & fold pocket panel right side against itself which is all fine but hte picture doesn’t it do it justice. Do I sew through the fold created by folding the pocket panel against itself (it sort of accordions up in there)? If you have any tips, thx.

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