Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Finley Tote sew - along (cutting + strap and handles)

Hello lovelies, so glad you're here.

Are you ready to start making your Finley Totes? I definitely am.

This week is mostly about doing all the necessary prep work (cutting out all the fabric panels and fusing interfacing). There will be some sewing though too, as we'll also be making our handles and a strap. Should be fun :)

And, in case you're new here and would like to join us you can purchase the pattern here and read all about materials and supplies here.

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I will be using Merchant and Mills Dry Oilskin for the exterior of my tote and striped cotton for the lining. I really love how well these two fabrics look together and oilskin exterior will be perfect for our unpredictable Dutch weather. What fabrics have you chosen?

By the way, you can share all your fabric choices as well as progress photos on IG using #finleytotesewalong.

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Now remember, this is a measure and cut pattern meaning there's no need for printing any templates as we do all the cutting using ruler, rotary cutter, and self-healing cutting mat.

All the cutting measurements are provided on page 3 of your pattern. Please make sure to label your panels as you cut to prevent any confusion during construction (you can find labels on page 15 of your pattern).

You have a few options when it comes to cutting your fabric A exterior front panel.

You can either use the same fabric for the whole main exterior of your tote and follow the directions as described in the pattern. You will cut one piece of fabric A front panel, interface it, and then subcut it into four different panels as directed in step 5A. 

Or, you can decide to change the direction of you print like I did for this Finley Tote. This layout works great for striped prints.

Another option is to use a focal print for your pocket and frame it using some neutral fabric like I did here. It's a perfect way to showcase your favorite print. This way you can use bold print but not overwhelm the bag.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you do decide to go with alternative layouts, just remember to skip cutting front exterior panel from fabric A as directed in cutting instructions and use panel measurements in Step 5A on page 5 for your cutting measurements. You'll be cutting each of your four (A,B, C, and D) panels separately. Pay attention to width and height of your panels so they each end up in the direction you wish them to go. (the same goes for interfacing meaning if you cut your main panel using instructions in Step 5A, cut your interfacing using the same measurements)

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Once all the cutting is done it's time to do a bit more prep work. Follow Step 2 on page 3 of your pattern to adhere interfacing to all the corresponding panels. Follow manufacturer's directions and take your time with this step as you want to make sure all the interfacing is adhered evenly, no puckers of bubbles as that would affect the finished look of your bag.

I found this and this very useful article on interfacing in case you need a bit more help.

Please note no interfacing is fused to your strap fabric at this point as that will be added once the strips are sewn together.

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We have one more thing to tackle this week -  follow directions in Steps 3 and 4 on how make the strap, handles and D-ring tabs.

I've made my share of fabric handles and straps and wanted to share a few helpful tips:
- I like to use sewing clips to hold the open edges of my strips together, they are super strong and keep all the layers neatly in place

- Use a slightly longer stitch (I normally use 2.5 for regular sewing and 3 for topstitching).

- Use good quality thread. I usually use coordinating thread for my sewing as I like the thread to sort of  "disappear" into my project. I find this way I don't have to stress so much if some stitches don't end up being perfectly straight and a little wobble sneaks in here and there. You could, of course, use a contrasting thread as it does add a lovely finishing touch to your strap and handles, but beware that all the little mistakes are going to be quite visible.

- Hold both top and bobbin thread with your fingers as you start topstitching - this will prevent any knots from forming on the underside of your handle.

- Let the machine do most of the work. Your hands are there to guide the strap/ handle, no pulling or tugging.

- Don't sew too fast or too slow. Find the speed that works for you and be consistent.

- Make sure your needle is in the down position every time you stop.

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Oh, and I posted a quick little video on making a handle to my Instagram in case you're interested. Just click here.

I think that's it for this week. Please leave any questions or suggestions in comments below.

Happy sewing everyone! Svetlana


  1. Dear Svetlana,
    your projects are wonderful! I think I'll buy your book.
    Do you use interfacing with oilskin and canvas too?
    Where do you buy canvas?
    Thank you
    Best regards

    1. Hi Francesca, I buy canvas at my local fabric market but I think Joann carries a lot of canvas in different colors if you're in the US. I use interfacing with canvas, but not with Oilskin.

    2. Thank you!
      I live in Italy and it's hard to find good canvas here.
      Have a nice day!

  2. I am planning to do the Finley Tote sewalong and am wondering if you have a thread preference when making your bags, totes and pouches...I normally use Aurifil for my patchwork. Do you use cotton or polyester and what weight for your bags. I am just waiting on my zippers but have fabric, bag hardware and interfacing so I will begin sewing tomorrow, unless I am distracted by the day's mail...your book is scheduled to arrive then...color me happy! judieharronatyahoodotcom

    1. Hi, I use Guttermann polyester thread for my bag making.




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  4. Hi what is the name of your book?

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