Wednesday, February 3, 2016

gift sewing - Tessa Basket

It's so much fun making gifts for others! Early in January I made this cute tote bag for a sewing friend who has made several amazing gifts for me over the years. The gift-giving bar has been set pretty high by her, but I feel like I met the standard with this bag - it turned out so great I almost didn't want to give it away. But her reaction upon opening it made me so glad I did :)

I used the "Tessa Basket" pattern by Pink Stitches available here as a PDF download and Amy Sinibaldi's (of NanaCompany) version as my inspiration.

The fabrics used in my version are an eclectic mix of Cotton & Steel prints, Hobby Lobby quilting cottons, and a charcoal grey shot cotton from Studio E's Peppered Cotton line.

The pattern doesn't provide exact cutting or finished dimensions for the bag, but I knew I wanted it to be a good sized tote that could carry a lot of sewing supplies :)  I cut a few strips from 15 different fat quarters in widths varying from 1.75" to 3" and then strip pieced them into two panels each approximately 18" wide by 13" long.  The 5.5" x 18" charcoal shot cotton was then sewn across the bottom perpendicular to the print strips making the entire panel about 18" square.

After using Spray n Bond to glue baste a layer of muslin and lightweight cotton batting to each bag panel (layered just like a quilt "sandwich"), I quilted them with random straight lines in a medium grey thread.  The panels were then trimmed to 17" wide by 18" long before using the pattern template to cut the top curves that later accommodate the straps/handles.

Bag construction was fairly typical - sewing the sides and bottom then making a boxed bottom with a diagonal seam at the corners.  The finished bag dimensions are approximately 12" wide x 13" tall (excluding straps) x 5" deep. 

I'm showing both sides of the bag so you can better view the placement and different widths of the fabrics I used.

The Tessa Basket pattern calls for cutting the 1" wide cotton webbing straps to a length of 11".  I like bag straps long enough to comfortably wear over my shoulder, so I cut the webbing for this bag at 16" per strap.

Don't you love this cotton webbing with the running stitch accent on the sides?!

The bag interior is no frills (meaning no pockets or zippers) in a fun feather print cotton available at Hobby Lobby.

When I make this pattern again I'll add some pockets to the interior and possibly use a lightweight interfacing on the lining fabric to give it more heft.  This version stands upright easily on its own; I think the lightweight batting worked well due to the density of quilting on the exterior.  If you want to do less quilting I believe you could replace the muslin with a layer of mid-weight fusible interfacing to provide the same level of stability to your finished bag.

A Google search on "tessa basket" reveals many images and links to other bloggers' reviews of this pattern.  Because you can use any combination of fabrics and cut them any size you wish to make the panels, this pattern is easily customized and can yield an infinite variety of one-of-a-kind bags.

1 comment:

  1. What a nice gift! But the best part is that you got to see her open the gift you made for her. I'd be making these and mailing them... and then missing out on the best and most fun part - the opening! I'm happy you enjoyed the making and gifting.


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