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Totes Ma Tote Nautical Beach Bag ⛵

I've got a couple of commissions to sew for people going on holiday, this is the first one, a beach bag for May, using the Totes Ma Tote Pattern from Emmaline Bags.

Totes Ma Tote from Emmaline Bags

By coincidence I had just bought a couple of printed canvas fabrics on eBayand when I showed them to my friend she chose this one, called "nautical".

The trouble with a big design like this is the fussy cutting required does waste material, it can't be helped, but it does mean you need to buy enough!  I am using a plain royal blue cotton duck canvas for the contrast straps, but I opted out of doing the strips over the side seams.

For the lining I dithered and finally skipped stripes in favour of 'Anchors' by Timeless Treasures (BEACH-C3503-SKY) as it is so cute!  I got all the hardware from and already had royal blue zippers in my stash, one dress zipper for the inside pocket and one YKK  #4.5 handbag zipper for the top.

In fact the only hiccup in my supplies was the Pellon Peltex used to stiffen the base.  I decided to actually try and buy some on e-bay this time as I didn't have any of the equivalent Vilene product anyway, and it came really quickly despite the Easter holiday.  Looking at it I think I could have used some of my "Stiff Stuff" by Lazy Girl as it appears to be very similar.

I got on with the assembly.  The first problem I hit was making the zipper gusset with my YKK 4.5 handbag zipper.  The zipper was just too stiff and bulky for my corners to turn out right no matter how I trimmed it.  I unpicked the zipper and cut new gussets and tried again, curving the zipper out of the way this time.  It was slightly better but you can see that the other end is nice and crisp. Janelle actually specifies a YKK #5 zipper, but these are ones I bought from Zipper Island on Etsy back in 2014!  Another time I think I would try the method Christine uses for her zipper gussets ( to see if it worked better with these zippers.

The bag feet all went according to plan, with the Pellon Peltex base made up as per instructions. No more problems until it came to fitting the lining inside the exterior.  My lining was too big and baggy, so I took it apart and trimmed 1/2" off and fitted it again.  Still too big.  Rather that take any more of the bag facing I unpicked the base lining, cut 1/2" off the lining sides then re-fit the base.

Now it looks right.  I guess I didn't take enough care with the cutting out, as I was careful to keep the seam allowance right.  You can see the slip pockets and the large pocket with the magnetic snap on the sides, and the way the zipper gusset folds down out of the way to open the bag up wide.  However you can't see the zippered pocket as it is hidden by the gusset, which is a security bonus I guess.

The large oval grommets went into the bag perfectly, I took my time and gradually trimmed the edges to a good fit. It is a rather nerve-wracking experience though!

Next I had to make the straps and fit the grommets/eyelets.  I only had a pack of 5 mm ones, so I tried using them, and learnt several things, one of them being the fact they were too big!  Another was that there is still a right side and wrong side as the top-stitching is more defined than the bobbin stitches, and the straps all needed to be the same way up!  Also eyelet needs to go in the right side, the washer goes on the wrong side, and they should all be the same way round.

Also if the opening isn't big enough, threads get caught in the washer, distorting it, like this one, and once in you cannot get eyelets out without ruining the fabric!  I have lots of excuses, it was late, I was tired, the light wasn't good, the dog came in and jumped all over me so I had to go see what he wanted.  When I came back I put the next one in the wrong way up.  Sigh

So having made all the above mistakes I then had to order the right size (4 mm), make another set of straps and fit the eyelets again.  I bought a Prym pack as you get everything you need and can use a hammer or the Prym Pliers if you have them, which I have.  Second time round I made none of the previous mistakes and it all went smoothly!

I neatened both ends of my buckle straps, which wasn't necessary but I wanted to, and I used a couple of rivets to fix them.  Janelle had suggested that if your straps end up too thick for your sewing machine and I think they look good.

Despite my worries about the ends of the zipper gusset being a bit curved they really look fine, and I am so pleased the zipper matched the straps so well.

I loaded it up with a beach towel, sun tan lotion, sunglasses and a nice thick paperback and there was still room for more!  You can see that the zipper folds flat out of the way so the bag opens up really wide.

The finished bag, ready to deliver.  I had intended the centered sailboat to be the front, but I really like the other side too!  Another advantage to this bag is it is very lightweight.  Some of my totes weigh quite a bit even before I fill all the pockets.  My friend was pleased with it, and that's the most important thing!

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Comment by Jeannie Phelps on May 13, 2017 at 8:34am

Yes it does . Thanks!

Comment by Karen on May 13, 2017 at 6:13am
I am no expert Jeannie, but you can attach it to the seam allowance of the outer bag if you are confident it will turn through the h*** in your lining ok. Make sure the stitching is reinforced so they don't rip. Otherwise you can insert it through same h*** in lining once the bag is turned right side out and it should stay in place, or you can make a sleeve to hold the canvas and have it as a loose removable base. Does that help?
Comment by Jeannie Phelps on May 12, 2017 at 8:15pm

Made my first tote now on my second one making improvements. Over the first. What is the best way to add in a plastic canvas bottom. The tote is lined.

Comment by Karen on May 4, 2017 at 6:43pm
Thank you. I guess all the girls love a sailor still!
Comment by Susan on May 4, 2017 at 6:50am

Me too.  I love just about anything nautical, and this tote was very well done.  (As always!)  

Comment by Carol Skilling on May 3, 2017 at 8:24pm

I absolutely LOVE this nautical bag.  Fantastic job!  Carol

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