That Purple Tote Bag

May 2012

Sometime prior to 2004, before I acquired my own embroidery machine, I commissioned someone to embroider my middle daughter's initials on a piece of cream Ultrasuede in purple metallic thread. It came out wonderfully. I had Grand Plans to "do something" with it .. I think, perhaps, to applique it on the front of a removeable book cover. But, the book cover was never made. The embroidery got put away in a Safe Place.

Every so often, when I was rummaging around looking for something else, I'd rediscover it. I'd remember that I really need to do something with it but would end up putting it away one more time.

Then, once upon a time, I attended a quilt show .. or maybe it was a machine quilting exposition ... I don't quite remember ... but I acquired a marvelous purple tote bag from the Handi Quilter people. It was a generous, ginormous tote bag, being 15"x19"x5" in measurements.

I was happy to have it because Middle Daughter has claimed all things purple for her own. So, it was earmarked for her.

But, I didn't think she would overly appreciate the Handi Quilter's people's logo on the bag. I figured I would need to diguise it in some manner ... and there the project sat, for quite a long time.

I apparently stashed it away with all of my other tote bags because it wasn't until this past weekend (MANY years after acquiring it) that I rediscovered it. The rediscovery was serendipitous because Middle Daughter is relocating to New York City (NEW! YORK! CITY!) to attend a summer class in digital publishing offered by New York University. We all have high hopes that she will make contacts that will enable her to find a job in the publishing industry ... albeit in New York City. (from our lips to God's ears)

At some point, over the years, this same Middle Daughter put the snatch on one of my very own repurposed totebags.

I had taken a grocery store canvas tote bag, covered up their logo with some pirate-y fabric to make an exterior pocket and then attached a separating zipper so I could close it up.

She rather liked it and, unbeknownst to me, spirited it away to her apartment (about 70 miles away), where it resided for Many Years.

Now that she is moving somewhat further away (like about *3,000* miles), she has returned *my* tote bag to me. I guess she couldn't quite justify retaining "ownership" of it while being that far away. :-) Well, little did she know that ... having rediscovered the ginormous purple tote bag AND the embroidered Ultrasuede ... I had resolved to repurpose the purple tote bag for her very own! :-)

First order of business: disguise the Handi Quilter logo. Now, if this tote bag was going to be for me, I wouldn't have minded having Handi Quilter's logo on the inside of a pocket. After all, I *am* a quilter. But Middle Daughter is not. She might be disconcerted about explaining who/what Handi Quilter is to anyone who happened to see it. So, I top-stitched a piece of dark purple solid fabric over the Handi Quilter logo. Good-bye logo! (Sorry 'bout that, Handi Quilter!)

Now .. what to do with the embroidered Ultrasuede? The Ultrasuede itself was oversized, so I trimmed it to have an even margin all the way around. The result was a rectangle.

I pulled out some dark purple fabric with faux writing in gold and made an on-point square to go behind the Ultrasuede.

The exterior pocket was made from a lavendar stripe fabric that is a particular favorite of Middle Daughter. I've used this fabric in other projects and all I have left is scraps. There was one piece large enough to make the pocket; I interfaced it and then lined it, sewing just the top and bottom seamlines. I knew that I was going to be top-stitching some sort of ribbon along the sides, so I didn't bother to finish the sides of the pocket.

I appliqued the Ultrasuede embroidery onto the center of the pocket, then finished the sides with some lavendar grosgrain ribbon. I had *exactly* enough to cover the pocket edges!

That took care of one side of the tote.

Wouldn't you know that the Handi Quilter people put their logo on *both* sides of the tote? :-)

For the second pocket, I could either use entirely different fabric ... deliberately having the pockets mis-match .. OR .... piece together the remaining scraps of the lavendar scrap fabric to cobble a single piece big enough. Upon reflection, I decided that having coordinating pockets would look nicer, so piecing the scraps is what I did.

I measured the height of the pocket and made 3 on-point squares of the purple fabric with gold writing to fit. Then I cut squares of Ultrasuede to fit inside the on-point squares ... reminiscent of the Ultrasuede embroidery on the other side. Everything was top-stitched onto the pocket.

The sides of this pocket were finished with another length of purple ribbon. I must be living right because, once again, I had exactly the length of ribbon I needed.

I could have stopped at this point .. having disguised the logo and made a perfectly respectable tote bag. BUT ... one feature of the tote bag that Middle Daughter had purloined from me was the zipper along the top that allowed her to close the tote bag securely. Therefore, *this* tote bag needed to have a top zipper also.

Fortunately, I had on hand a 20" separating zipper. I didn't want to sew the zipper directly to the top of the tote (as I did my own tote bag) because the depth of the purple bag was 5" and she'd lose quite a bit of storage space.

Therefore, I sewed a 2.5" strip of fabric to each of the zipper tapes. The other side of the fabric was sewn to the top of the tote, thereby creating a 5" strip to span the top.

She can zip it closed, if she wants to keep the contents hidden or she can separate the zipper if she needs the room.

All in all, I think I did a pretty good job. :-)