My Material Life

Lotta’s Tote Bag Formula

I’ve been too preoccupied with end-of-year school activities for personal projects lately, but I did run across these bags while I was cleaning out closets last weekend.  I made these for Samantha when she was in preschool.  Bags are such a satisfying sewing project.  They are so straightforward to sew that you can easily create something both beautiful and useful.

Do you know Lotta Jansdotter?  She is a textile designer (among other things) with a modern Scandinavian bent.  She grew up in Sweden, but started her business in San Francisco and now lives in New York.  These bags were inspired by the Simple Tote project in her book, Lotta Jansdotter Simple Sewing.  The body of the bag is made from one piece of fabric that is folded in the middle and seamed along each side.  Before it’s folded and sewn, the contrasting fabric at the base of the bag is stitched on top of it, resulting in a double layer of fabric at the bottom of the bag.

What I love about these bags is the use of similar, but different fabric for the handle and the base.  I don’t think these bags would be nearly as interesting if you used the same fabric for both.  In addition, I think two prints plus a solid is more interesting than one print and two solids, at least in the case of the bags above.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but the handle fabrics actually have small polka dots on them.  Now take a look at the placemat in the photo below.

Can you see how the embroidery thread used in the center of the motif is a little more intense in color than the outer rings?  It’s close, but it’s different.  Well, some of the placemats in the store (Target – last winter) were embroidered with a single color, no variation.  They looked so flat compared to this one.  That simple change made such an improvement.

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