I had wanted to make something a little special for my mother's birthday. Her and my aunt are both active members of their local Red Hat group......so what better gift than a custom-made Red Hat tote. :>) After much searching I found the "perfect" fabric for it and just needed to find the "perfect" pattern. I was looking for the pattern when I spied this lovely sample tote hanging above a fabric display. Unfortunately when I asked for the pattern, I discovered that there wasn't one. It was a "panel tote"....meaning I had to purchase the panel in order to make the tote. So the panel was added to my growing pile of fabric.
Took everything home and sat down to make the "panel tote"....thinking it would be relatively easy. After all, how hard is it to cut out the pieces and sew them together. Turns out it wasn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be. Distinguishing the front and back pieces was easy. What was not easy was figuring out which strips were for the handle and which ones were for the bag gusset. Not a single thing was marked.....and the strips were all the same length. One set was a bit wider than the other set....that was the only difference. I ended up using the strips that should have been for the tote handles for the bag gusset instead. Didn't figure this out until the body of the bag was assembled and I was looking at the handles thinking "these are awful skinny!". Had a moment of panic before I realized that I had more than enough of the lining fabric left and this would make wonderful handles. Yes, I did line the bag.....and even included pockets on the inside (something the panel did not include).
The "panel tote" turned out to be a practice piece for the one I finally made for my mother. Although it's not as "fancy" as the practice piece, it did go together beautifully. I was smart enough to make patterns as I went so other totes can be made at a later date.....if needed or desired. The practice piece went to my oldest daughter who absolutely loves how large it is. She uses it on a daily basis. The Red Hat tote went to my mother who absolutely adores it. :>) She can't wait to show it off to her Red Hat group and plans on using it on their next outing. Isn't it wonderful when things that don't start off the best end up turning out better than you could imagine?? :>)