Friday, September 26, 2014

241 Tote and Tutorial Round Up

That's right folks, you heard it here first,
I made a 241 Tote!!!

 The 241 Tote is by NoodleHead Designs.  I just cannot say enough good things about this pattern!
I have never made a tote, bag or purse before, and was very trepidacious about venturing into bag making. I thought; Sooo many pattern pieces, Sooo much cutting, Sooo many words for which I have no meaning. So many weird sections of JoAnn's that have names like stabilizer and interfacing and sound much too much like software developers over for a double espresso and a rehash of last nights error code re-writes! 
But, NO! The Noodle Head 241 Tote is simple to make, very logically and carefully laid out, and very well written. And just so you will no longer fear leaping into places Gucci would fear to tread, I have gathered the very best of the 241 Tote Tutorials and have them here along with a coupla pointers of my own; Ready for you to drink in and drool over, cause you won't be able to wait to get your hands on one of these!!

The 241 Tote is good for Country Living, gardening or picking up the kids.

The 241 tote is great for Urban exploits as well! That Tote makes that
motorcycle look BADASS, don't you think??!!!

Materials used in the making of this bag:
Pellon interfacing (Gasp!!) ES114 
Grey Peppered Cotton by Pepper Cory
Kona Solid in Orange on the inside of the pockets
Denise Schmidt for Joann's Orange and Navy plaid for center body and handle. 
Light Grey polyester thread by Gutermann. I know! But my machine like polyester thread, what can I say?
Pfaff Bi-Level binding foot for edge stitching (I'll tell you why in a sec)

So, to review the pattern:
1.  I purchased a pdf pattern straight from NoodleHead's website. It was quick, easy, and painless. Then I printed it out using my home computer and printer onto regular ol printer paper. Since I now, unfortunately, have Windows 8, it was a bit of a run around to print the pattern out at normal size as Windows 8 wants to reduce everything to fit. Long story fairly short, if you open up the pdf file and print it from adobe acrobat, you should not have any problem Dont forget to check your pattern for size! There is a one inch measurement square on the first pattern piece. 

2.  I then cut the pattern pieces out, taped the A-A and the B-B, double checked that this was indeed the case, and having ironed all of my fabric in advance, weighted the pattern pieces and cut around them using a small rotary cutter. Easy peasy!! Don't pin your pattern to your fabric, as it distorts the pattern quite badly. 
I followed this tutorial by Katy, The Littlest Thistle, for pattern layout and cutting instructions. Ba-rilliant!! Then I read through this tutorial and review by SewSweetness, Sara Lawson. I just want you to know that I clipped my seams about a hundred less times than they did, and they lay perfectly flat. For now, anyhoo!! 

3. I fused the interfacing to the fabric pieces as directed on the interfacing package, and it has stayed on like a champ. And I am not easy on my purses. They invariably end up under the seat, or the dog, or the Boy. You know what I am saying!! I think that the Pellon ES 114 was the perfect weight for the peppered cotton, as that particular fabric is quite sturdy. If I had been using only quilting cottons, I think I would have used one step heavier of an interfacing. But, like I say, I am pretty hard on my handmades. But I can tell you that I am now going to buy it by the yard from JoAnn's and absolutely use a coupon. The little box that I had was just enough to make this bag, and no extra. I know that other countries do not get coupons or have Pellon... maybe an Etsy seller could help??
UPDATE: Walmart now carries Pellon products for $5 a yard LESS than Joann's. Wowsa!

4. I did NOT trim the interfacing back 1/4 inch like the manufacturer suggests. My theory was that I wanted that stiffness to help the seams at the bottom of the bag and pockets hold up to all of the junk that accumulates in the bottom of my purse... I am not going to show you a picture of that, as I do not wish you to cry ;) 

5. When sewing the darts, line up the edges of the bottom of the bag, then pin...
I am about to move into position to sew a dart, but look! The edges of my fabric are lined up!
Keep them this way!

6. I had no problem sewing the sides of the bag to the central pieces because I used my Wonder Clips.., Man, those things are some kinda heaven!! One Tip: pin/clip Starting, NOT at the seam intersection, but out at the ends of the side, and work your way back to the curved seam intersection where the bottom of the side meets the bottom of the center of the bag... This will keep your side centered and ease the complete side into the bag.  Go to SewSweetness's tutorial for a pic of the side insertion. 

7. If you have a Pfaff, and you want to topstitch, you will not be able to move your needle over and use your stitch in the ditch foot, or your edge foot, because there is only a central hole in Pfaff feet. No broken needles, thank you!! So you can either wing it, and risk wandering top stitching, or you can purchase the handy bi-level binding foot.  It has a large and small side to the foot, and a solid front, so that you cannot see what you're up to. If they'd asked me first, they would have known better than to do that. The sides of the foot are undercut so that they help to guide the fabric. Move your needle to the distance from the edge of the fabric that you wish, and go ahead and stitch. This is the first time I have ever had top stitching come out looking like anything that could leave my house. 

You can just barely see here how the right-most side of the foot is undercut. If I was doing binding, I would have the left-most side of the foot cuddled up against the edge of the binding and the rightmost side of the foot riding along the outside edge of the binding. I would move the needle right until it was the desired distance from my edge to stitch... here it is way too far over for topstitching!

8.  If you have a lightweight machine, you are going to want to hand crank your way over the intersections of the pockets. I'm just sayin... no need to break your machine just to have some lovely stitching! 

This is the intersection you will want to hand crank through.
9. I used a titanium needle for the first time. It didn't make it all of the way through the bag before skipping stitches and dulling. I switched to a universal 90/14 and finished up with no problems. Has anyone else ever had this happen??! I was really hoping that titanium needles were the answer to fewer dull needles in the middle of projects... 
    *Update! Read Katy's comment at the end of the page to see why you SHOULD always use a 90/14 needle and trim your interfacing, both! 

That's it, folks!!! Please stop by the tutorials and familiarize yourself with the process, and then jump right in!!! 
I leave you with a bevy of pics of 241 totes other sewists have made. I sincerely hope that you will try one, or a dozen, yourself! I know I am!!!!!!!!!!!!


Denim, Perfect!!

Ooh, Elegant!

For another review, check out Red Pepper Quilts
For info on Interfacing go to Sew Sweetness
And for a tutorial on how to insert a magnetic snap go to Noodlehead 

This 241 tote is a finish for the FAL3 over at The Littlest Thistle! Woohoo!!!!
Linking to:
Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts 

Holy Mackerel! Did you see that Craftsy has 70% off??!!

Check it out!


  1. I'm laughing so hard here, since I wrote both the tutes you reference, it's just that I guest posted at Sara's for an event 2 years ago ;o) Glad I could help though, the bag looks brilliant :o)

    For the interfacing trimming - the reason why you want to do this is that you don't want seams that are bulky - interfacing is meant to stiffen the fabric, in seams it becomes the thing that breaks your needle as it's too thick for your machine to cope. Whilst leaving the fusible woven to go to the edge of the fabric is fine, leaving fusible fleece etc in the seam allowance can actually lead to baggy and gaping seams because if your machine struggles to digest where bits overlap, it won't maintain tension, and the stitching will be looser.

    I've not used titanium needles, but for bags, especially with heavier duty fabrics on things such as straps, you want to use bigger needles, like a #14 - #16.

    For interfacing, the rest of the world (*possibly with a bit of exaggeration ;o)) uses Vilene rather than Pellon, and Sara has a comparison chart for the codes somewhere, as does Nikki at Nicole Malalieu Designs.

  2. Your bag turned out great, and your enthusiasm helps me think about trying something like this one day. :)

  3. Your bag is adorable. Thanks for posting the info on it. I just made my first tote a few days ago and I love it. I can see a lot of bag-making in my future! :) The colors you chose are just perfect.

  4. Love how yours turned out - the plaid especially. I've made one of these bags as well and was really happy with how it turned out - Anna's pattern is great. I've yet to make it with the zips (the alternate version) so I'm hoping to do that at some stage. The hardest part is choosing the fabric - there are so many combos that would look great!

  5. Love the colours you have used for your bag. It is very smart! :-)

  6. Very helpful tips. I'm sure they will come in handy when i finally sew my first 241 tote. It has been on my wish list for the longest time. Your bag is wonderful. I love the colors you chose.

  7. Your bag turned out fantastic! And yes, it does make the motorcycle look bad ass. I have contemplated this pattern so will have to give it a go now.

  8. I have a Pfaff, andim going to look for that binding foot. I've been using the stitch in ditch foot to machine bind, but I think this would be better.

  9. Coming from Lily's Quilts, I clicked through your blog and found this tote ... and I followed your links (still thinking about buying the PDF!!!) ... I love YOUR tote design most, the dynamic orange-navy-red with grey pepper ... Thank you for sharing it ... ;))) The landscape fotos are awesome ... You are LIVING in Alaska??? What a wonderful country ... ;)

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