Swoon Ethel

After making the Conference Tote Bag, I thought I’d like to make more bags. I’ve read a few books, bought a book, reviewed a book, am planning on buying a new book coming out, and took a few Craftsy classes – all on bag-making. I thought it was time to try another bag.

Let me tell you, it’s a lot more of a workout to make a bag than it is to make a bra! I can’t think of a anything that you fight with as much on a bra. The only thing that would come close is stretching the elastic along the band, but that’s nothing. Now, having said that, there are no fitting issues with bags at all.

Before I go on about the fight I had making the bag, let me show you what I made.


This is Ethel, a free pattern from Swoon. I love the shape of this bag – that’s what drew me to it in the first place. It’s just a bit different for a tote bag with its tear-drop shape. DS2 came home the day I’d made it and said it was beautiful and what he really liked was the shape too. So, it’s a winning shape.

It doesn’t show up really well in the photos, but there is an outer divided pocket on the front of the bag. That’s something great for phones or keys or lipstick that you don’t want lost in the bag.

I used the same quilting cotton for the lining on this bag as I did on my Conference Tote Bag.


Here’s the outside of Ethel with just a bit of lining showing. I love how these go together.


You can see that front pocket I mentioned a little better in the above photo.

And here’s the back of the bag.


Oh, I love that shape. I’d like to make this again and include a few of the lovely details from the Conference tote – like an inside pocket with zipper, and a zipper closure.

Speaking of detail, here’s a close-up of the floral detail:


I love the gold on there, and the contrast between the dark brown and white.

Now, let me tell you about the fight we had. Well, the bag has interfacing and/or foam on all the pieces to give it structure. I did fight a little bit with the Conference Tote Bag – I’d decided boxed corners and I were not going to be friends. On this bag there are no boxed corners. However, the whole time I was sewing the seams, the foam seemed to want to push against something and I felt like I was fighting to keep my seam allowances straight. Tell me, any other bag-makers out there, is that normal? It felt like an arm workout that lasted too long.

The second fight is leaving that little six-inch gap in the lining to pull the whole bag through! I’ve read different comments where bag-makers have referred to that as birthing the bag. To me, it seemed more like I was trying to rip apart what I’d just fought to sew! Again, it was an arm work out too. Once the bag is turned though, well, that’s when you can see how it’s going to look when it’s finished. There’s just a little bit more sewing and some pressing to do, but the finished look is there. It’s a great moment.

In the end, I’m very pleased with it. This will be making its way to my Mum for Christmas this year. I had a lot of hints and questions after the first bag I made – I knew my Mum would love one too.

Happy creating!

A Review of Boutique Bags

Many years ago I made a tote bag for my Mother-in-law. She had wanted a bag with lots of pockets in it for a trip. I did my best, but my best then wasn’t anything to impress anyone – including me. I stayed away from making bags for a long time after that.

However, when Deby over at So Sew Easy did a Conference Tote Bag sew-along with video tutorials, I decided it was time to face making bags again. I loved the sew-along, and the bag I made.


In fact, I was using this bag yesterday and I’m really impressed with it. It’s really a great bag! If you’re wanting more information on the sew-along or the bag, you can read about it here.

When I was given the opportunity to review a book on bag-making, I jumped at the opportunity. I really want to make more bags as my last one was such a great experience. You can read my review of Boutique Bags over on So Sew Easy. Boutique Bags really is a great book, with a great chapter on techniques and so many bag options. And I love that there’s a PDF option.

If you’ve been thinking about making a bag, take a look at the review over on So Sew Easy.

Happy creating!

The Conference Tote Bag by So Sew Easy

Recently, Deby  from So Sew Easy came out with a tote bag pattern, and sew-along. The bags people were making and posting were beautiful, and I kept reading all these comments how Deby’s videos were so wonderful and helpful. Making a bag has been on my sewing list for a while. It was time to jump in even if I was a bit late.

First, I bought some lovely cotton materials for the bag. I’d picked out all my stabilizers too, but the dear woman working at the fabric store leaned over the cutting table and said quietly that they’d all be on sale for half price in a couple of weeks. Thank you! I bought my cottons, and tried my best to wait patiently.

material for conference tote

Here were the first materials I picked out. I do still like them, but on another trip to the fabric store, I found a third material that goes so well with both of these. I couldn’t resist.

Here’s an in-process photo of the front of my bag coming together.

Front of CTB

Oh, I’m loving how this is looking.

Here are a few more photos and details of this wonderful bag now that it’s completed. The bag front features a padded front pocket. The pocket will be great for a tablet or other device – the padding will kept everything nice and safe.


The bag back can be identical to the front, or the pocket can be divided. I made mine into a divided pocket. And can you see how nicely this bag stands on it’s own? What a great bag!


Inside of the bag there are some great features as well – more pockets! The one side has gathered pockets all along it. Lots of little spaces that are perfect for carrying all the little things we carry with us.


On the other side of the bag there’s another pocket. This pocket has a bit of a surprise to it – it’s a pocket within a pocket.


Just look. The pocket has a zipper and opens up to make another pocket. How great is that?


The bag closes with a zipper, and I found a really cute zipper pull that matches the rectangular rings that attach the straps.


To complete the zipper, there’s a great zipper tab that makes it look so professional.


If the bag pattern itself isn’t great enough, Deby has video instruction to go along with each day of the sew-along. I really can’t recommend it enough! The attention to detail was exactly what I needed to make my first bag. Thanks Deby!

Take a look. The Conference Tote Bag.

I did have one disappointment in making this bag. The foam I bought to give the bag structure also gave it a wrinkle. The foam comes folded in a pre-measured bag. One of those folds is showing through on the front of my bag.


Can you see that? That is glaringly obvious to me. I may have to source another type of foam that doesn’t come pre-folded. However, even though it has this fold in it, I’m incredibly happy with my Conference Tote Bag. I was thinking this would be a great gift for my Mum this Christmas, but I’m not sure I want to give it away. I just might have to make her something else.

Happy creating!