Mandolin Case

mandolin case

Just a simple mandolin case, that shouldn’t be too difficult to design and make. I quickly became disillusioned of that idea after getting started.

My son has added a mandolin to the growing collection of music instruments that he plays. But, it came without a case. That should be easy enough to make, I thought.

First, I traced the outline of the mandolin and measured the maximum depth so I could make a pattern. Then I rounded up materials.

The fabric for front and back pieces, the zippers and the strap are from recycled luggage. A couple garment bags were purchased at a thrift store and then disassembled for their fabric and hardware. Lots of zippers in a garment bag. It was an inexpensive way to get a long double slider zipper and some heavy duty fabric.

But it required some extra effort of seam ripping and done carefully so as to not ruin the zippers. There was just enough of the dark blue fabric for the front and back fabrics. I was even able to cut out the front piece so that it included a zippered pocket from the original garment bag.

For the side pieces, I was going to use fabric from the black bag, but the fabric has a fairly open weave, which did not seem like a good choice.

I needed less than a 1/4 yard of fabric for the side pieces, but did not have any leftover scraps that would do. This meant a trip to a fabric store. I went shopping with a friend to a fabric store closing sale where I found several yards of a brown fabric that would work nicely. Didn’t need or want that much, but the whole thing cost about the same as buying a 1/4 yard of fabric at regular price and it was suitable for the project.

There was one more material to find and purchase, which was 1/2″ thick foam for padding. The rest of materials needed was just thread, needles, inner fabric and stabilizer; all of which I already had.

patches in her box of fabric

The inner fabric was a scrap that had migrated to the box of fuzzy fabrics that my dog likes to sleep in. It got washed, cut up and stitched into the case. Don’t worry about my dog, she has plenty of fluffy fabrics in her box.

To give the bag some rigidity, a layer of heavy duty stabilizer was added to the bag. The foam was stitched to the stabilizer and trimmed to the same size as the stabilizer.The stabilizer and foam had to be cut to a tad less than the finished size with no seam allowance so that they would not add bulk to the seams.

mandolin padding

Trying to cram stiff stabilizer and 1/2″ thick foam through the machine took patience and a shorter presser foot. The need for a shorter presser foot was an idea that came to me after a long struggle with a regular foot. I used a free-motion embroidery foot since it is a little shorter. Even then, I had to compress the materials to get them through the machine.

The hardware was stitched to the outer fabric pieces. Should be simple enough.

mandolin case handle

Nope, I mistakenly attached the handle to the hinge side of the case instead of the zipper side. That would have not only been inconvenient form my son to have to set the case down and turn it around to unzip it, it could have been disastrous. If the case was not zipped all the way shut when picked up (which might not be noticed since not on handle side), then the mandolin could have fallen out.

mandolin case handle on wrong side

So, back to seam ripping again. This time I had to carefully remove the handle and D-rings (for strap that got omitted from final product), then figure out where to locate handle on the other side and reattach it.

Next, the stabilizer/foam pieces were stitched to the fabric pieces. First to the liner and then to the outer fabrics for the front and back pieces and in the reverse order for the side pieces.

What I did not realize was that the stabilizer in addition to the foam would make the pieces rather stiff. That was a good thing for the finished product to protect the mandolin, but for construction, it made assembling on the sewing machine a physically challenging step in the process.

Flat pieces were not difficult to sew together, but once the thing starting to take shape it was becoming a monster to handle. In the picture below, I had just started to sew the side to the back piece and it was relatively easy going at this point.

mandolin case assembly

I am pleased with the finished product and more importantly, so is my son.

If I had to do this over again, it would be a little easier for the lessons learned and much easier if it could be made on an industrial sewing machine that was built for this type of sewing. This is not a project I would volunteer to do again even though it was worth the effort of making the mandolin bag, both so the mandolin could have a case and for the value of the learning experience.

Of course, there is all those leftover zippers that I am sure will find their way into future projects. Hmmm, I’m thinking of one of my zippered bags which is going into self-destruct mode after many years of service and needs replacing. With all those zippers, there could be different compartments and there could be….


Temari Tote Bag #4- final version

temari tote version 4 pic 1Version 4 of the temari project tote bag was made to improve a couple design details.

The  eyelets for thread guides and buttonholes to close the pockets were good design ideas that had problems.

In the first two versions, the eyelets were too small to be easy to pass the thread through. The third version solved this problem by using larger eyelets.  And in all three of the previous versions, the eyelets were below the buttonholes. This meant reaching into pocket to get to eyelet hole, making it more difficult to  thread the thread through the holes. Although, not much of an issue with the larger eyelets in third version.

Then there were all those buttonholes. They are time consuming to make tricky to have come out looking nice on course fabric that has a loose weave like the linen.

So, the solutions to both problems was to eliminate them: no eyelets and no buttonholes.  The eyelet thread guide were replaced with V notch at the top of each pocket. The buttons were kept, as a means of securing the thread, but not for closing the pocket.

temari tote version 4 pic 2

The previous version used a heavy weight fabric which made sewing seams challenging, especially when sewing the sides to the bottom. Trying to sew the sides and base together with a heavy weight fabric was a bit of a challenge.

To make construction a little easier, a lighter weight fabric was used in this version. Lighter weight means less bulky seams. The outer fabric in this bag looks like it would be a heavy weight, but it is actually not, so it was easier to sew.

The first two bags had a tendency to slouch since, which made it a little difficult see and access the inside. So the 3rd and 4th versions have a stabilizer to back the sides of the outer bag. With a lighter weight fabric, it was essential to have the stabilizer to give shape to the bag.

Adding stabilizer did not add bulk to the seams since the stabilizer was cut slightly smaller to avoid being added to the seams.

Also,  with a stabilizer backing the fabric, pulling the thread down against the V notch does not collapse the bag sides.

Without buttonholes, the buttons now serve only to secure the thread, not to close the pockets. The pockets do not really need to be closed. Besides, having the button closures meant that the depth of the pockets was limited by the placement of the closures.

To make the outer pockets a little more accommodating, the inner bag fabric was made with a stretch sportswear fabric and elastic was used instead of twill tape for reinforcement. The fabric stretches to hold more and it also helps hold things in the pocket. The fabric was a little challenging to work with, but the results were worth the effort.

temari tote version 4 pic 4

The inner pockets are made like in the 3rd version, but decided on three large pockets instead of two large and two small like in the 3rd version. The stretch sportswear fabric was used for the inner pockets too. The hems on the top of the inner pockets have elastic inside so that it will stretch and then return to its original shape.

Another change that was made was size. The first two bags have a hexagon with 3 1/2′ sides and the third has 4 1/2″ sides. The smaller size was just a tad too small and the overall size of the third bag was to big for most of my temari projects. The obvious solution was to compromise and try a 4″ sided hexagon base. It has turned out to be a nice size.

temari tote version 4 pic 3


temari tote version 4 pic 5

In summary, the “improvements” are:

1. no buttonholes- means less bag construction time,

2. no eyelets- means don’t have to buy or install them and no fussing with threading thread through hole,

3. V notch replaces eyelets- easy to make,

4. stretch fabric for inner bag- helps hold thread in pockets so don’t need to have button pocket closure and stretches to accommodate larger balls of thread,

5. hexagon base with 4″ sides- this is just a different size option from previous 3 1/2″ sides, not necessarily an improvement,

6. lighter weight outer fabric- less bulk to sew in seams,

7. stabilizer in outer bag- gives bag shape so does not slouch (also in version #3), and

8. inner pockets- the addition of inner pockets means somewhere to put tools and supplies such as scissors, paper strips,  needle book, thimble, graph paper, hand warmer, etc. (also in version #3),

Another change in this bag is the type of handle. It is not necessarily an improvement, just different. Paracord was used to make a 6 strand flat braid handle and to make the drawstrings.

Unfortunately, the coordinating temari pincushion was finished before I realized that the lobster claw intended to attach it to the bag was too small for the D-rings already sewn on the handle. So, a split ring was added to connect the two.

I have been using this tote bag version for a while now and really like its features. It was worth the time to make another version to address different design details.

The temari that is seen in the pictures is the current one in progress with the thread that is being used to stitch the pattern. The finished temari will be in an upcoming post, so come back soon.


Attention to Details: temari project tote bag version #3

temari tote v3 1

In the third version of my Temari Project Tote Bag, there were some details that needed attending to that the first and second ones did not address.

In the first version, I considered the bag to be attractive and served its functions well except that the mesh inner bag would snag pins on the ball and pull them out. Not good when it takes quite a bit of time to measure and mark for accurate pin placement. This was fixed in version #2.

In the second version, I made the bag a little larger, but it shared a feature with the first one that needed to be improved. The eyelet holes needed to be a little larger to make threading the thread through the hole easier. Also, both #1 and #2 had soft sides so the bag would slouch when the pockets were not full. The pockets in both versions were intended for thread and there was no accommodations made for needles, scissors, and paper, unless the thread pockets were used.

So, bag #3 has larger eyelet holes, stabilizer in the sides and a second set of pockets.

This version stands up on its own with the stabilizer in the sides. Unfortunatley, I discovered that the combination of stabilizer, heavy weight fabric,the inner bag fabric, inner pockets fabric and two layers of fabric for the hexagon base, made considerable thickness in the seam for sewing the base to the sides. Sewing the seam was a bit challenging. Of course, this got me to thinking of using a lighter weight fabric combined with stabilizer would be a better choice for ease of sewing. That is being dealt with in version #4 which will be in an upcoming post, if it turns out well.

Version three has two small and two large inner pockets for tools and accessories. The two larger pockets have a button and loop closure so that the pockets don’t gape open.

temari tote v3 2

The larger eyelet holes for thread dispensing is much easier for poking the thread end through. A definite plus since there is no sense in making things more difficult than necessary. It is tempting to cut out the eyelets on the first two bags and replace them with larger ones. But that would take courage as I might end up doing more damage than good.

temari tote v3 3eyelet thread hole v1

These were all details that relate to the function of the bag.

In the third version, a lovely piece of upholstery fabric was used for the outside of the bag. When cut, the fabric has a tendency to unravel on the cut edge. This fabric choice led to considering some of the aesthetic details in designing the bag.

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Not looking farther than what was on hand, I found a piece of rope that could be reused for the bag strap. Although the color of the rope could be found in the fabric, it still looked like it was a make-do choice. By taking a piece of the fabric and pulling some of the warp thread away, these could be used to weave into the braided rope to bring the fabric colors into the rope handle.

temari tote v3 5

In the picture on the left, the braided rope is on the right and the strands of warp from the fabric are on the left. On the left hand end of the rope, you can see where I experimented with weaving the warp strands into the braid using a tapestry needle.

To finish the handle, more of the same warp threads were used for whipping the rope together to form the handle. This also serves to hide where the rope ends join, making for a clean finish.

The same warp thread was used again to create braided cords for the drawstring closure on the inner bag.

temari tote v3 6By using the same material from the fabric in the handle, in the pull strings, and on the temari pincushion, it creates unity in the design.

It is attention to design details that helps create good function and pleasing aesthetics.

Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial

This Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial is based on my second version of this tote bag. It is a handy tote for other sewing projects too.This project is not recommended for beginner sewers.

temari tote v.2 1

Although this bag could easily be used for other types of needlework projects, there are couple nice features incorporated into the bag that have the temari maker in mind.

The tote bag has a hexagon base, six outer pockets and an inner drawstring bag. The pockets accommodate both thread and small tools. The button pocket closure serves the additional function of securing the thread that is dispensed through the eyelet hole below the button hole. There is an additional D-ring below the bag handle to hang a temari pincushion. These instructions do not include the temari pincushion but the temari pillow will be in a separate future post.

The instructions that are given here are to make the bag as seen in the photo above which is slightly larger than the first version. You might wish to change things depending on what you have available such as: type of fabrics, size of D-rings, size of buttons, material used to  make strap, etc.

Just remember if you change the size of something, it might effect the dimensions of something else. For example a different size D-ring would need a different width strap to attach it to the bag.

There is little use of pins in this project, but feel free to use more pins if that is your desire.


Looking ahead: a link to a printable hexagon template is provided in the next section, Making Bag.


Outer bag– 1/3 yard  heavy weight fabric such as denim or upholstery fabric (I used denim)

  • Cut one at 7″ h. x 28″ w. (outer bag sides)
  • Cut one 11″ x 11″ (outer bag bottom)
  • Cut two at 1 1/2″ w. x 3″ l. (for D-rings)

Inner bag– lighter weight such as muslin (I used shirt weight linen)

  • Cut one at 10 1/4″ h. x 28″ w. (inner drawstring bag)
  • Cut  one at 11″ x 11 (lining for bag bottom)
  • Cut one at 7″ h. x 28″ w. (lining for outer bag)
  • Cut one at 5″ w. x 30″ w. (sleeve for drawstring)

Stabilizer for bag bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 8 3/4″ across (point to point)

6 buttons at 3/4″ diameter (for pocket closures)

6 eyelets at 1/4″ and eyelet tool (eyelets could be substituted with small buttonholes but there will be some friction on thread when thread is pulled through). NOTE: if I had larger eyelets, I would have used them as they would be easier to poke the thread through than these small ones.

3 D-rings at 3/4″

General purpose sewing thread– one to match inner fabric and one to match outer fabric

Twill tape at 1″ wide and 28″ long in a color to match inner fabric

Cording– #21 weight cotton cable cord (2mm craft cord is a comparable weight)

  • 4-6 yards (for braided handle)
  • 2 yards (for drawstrings)

Stencil material- a piece of heavy cardstock or stencil plastic that is at least 10″ x 10″.

Temari pillow– The temari pillow tutorial will be coming up soon but the following supply list is provided now so you can get your materials at the same time in case you wish to have the fabric match your bag.

for top: cut one hexagon 10″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag

for bottom: cut one hexagon 8″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag

Stabilizer for pillow bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 7″ across (point to point)

1 button at 3/4″ diameter (for temari pillow)


Hexagon template

This pattern template is a half of a hexagon, cut to 10″ from point to point with a 9″ half hexagon inside. Click on this link for a printable pattern.

If you don’t wish to or are unable to print the hexagon template, then you will need to make one. Click on this link for printable instructions on how to draw your own.

me center point, draw a 9″ diameter circle inside the first circle. Use the comp

Hexagon base

temari tote v.2 2

Rough cut the hexagon outer fabric to slightly larger than the template.

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Cut out hexagon inner fabric to slightly larger than the outer fabric. Here they are stacked together so you can see that I did not waste time cutting out the inner fabric, just tore a square to that is a little oversized.

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Trim the template to 1/8″ smaller than the stitching line. It is easier to see what is meant in the next picture.

temari tote v.2 5

Note: The hexagon template gets cut to just a tad inside the stitching line because the stabilizer for the base needs to be slightly smaller than the finished size of the base. The seam that joins the top to bottom gets stitched close to but not right at the edge of the stabilizer. This makes it easier to stitch the two parts together and the end result looks nicer.

Use the resulting hexagon template to mark and cut two pieces of stabilizer. When tracing the template onto the stabilizer, I find it easier and more accurate to mark the template half on the stabilizer, then rotate the template and mark the other half, rather than trying to mark a folded stabilizer since it is so stiff.

temari tote v.2 6

Stack the two stabilizer hexagons with edges aligned and then stitch them together with an over-edge zigzag stitch.

temari tote v.2 7

Lay the stabilizer hexagon on top of the back of the inner fabric. Stitch them together with a smaller zigzag stitch than in previous step.

temari tote v.2 8

Flip over the stabilizer and inner fabric so that inner fabric is up and place on top of outer fabric. Use a straight stitch to baste them together. Notice that the stitching is close to, but not right against, the stabilizer. When stitching the hexagon base to the sides, you will be stitching a tad closer so this should not show. The edge of the lining fabric is turned up so you can see the outer fabric it is being stitched to.

Trim seam allowance to 1/2″ from edge of stabilizer. This will give a 3/8″ seam allowance. The extra 1/8″ is to keep the stitching off the stabilizer so it is not adding bulk to the seam.

Outer Bag 

 temari tote v.2 9

Take the two pieces of fabric that are 7″ x 28″ and place right sides together. Stitch 1/2″ from edge along one long side.

note: I used the wrong side of the denim as the right side since I wanted a lighter colored denim bag.

temari tote v.2 10

Press the seam allowance towards the inner fabric side and then top stitch close to the seam. In the photo above, the edge is turned back so you can see the back too.

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Fold the stitched together fabrics with right sides together and align seam and pin short side. Stitch 1/2″ from edge.

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Press seam allowances open. Pressing the seam open rather than to one side, not only reduces bulk when stitching to base later, but looks nicer.

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Fold along long seam so that wrong sides are together and pin along the folded side. Stitch 1/2″ from edge. This will be the top edge of outer bag.

Then pin together the other long edges and stitch about 1/4″ from edge. This will be the bottom edge of the bag. Stitching the two fabrics together makes it easier to manage them when pinning and stitching them to the bottom later.

temari tote v.2 14

Fold the resulting short tube in half so that the short seam is exactly at one of the two folds. Use a ruler and find center of the top edge of the bag and pin mark. Then pin mark edge at 2 1/4″ to each side of the center mark pin. This will give a space of 4 1/4″ between two pins.

temari tote v.2 15

Flip bag over and again pin mark edge at 2 1/4″ to each side of the center mark pin. Remove center pin.

temari tote v.2 16

Pin mark edge at each fold.

temari tote v.2 17Stitch buttonholes so that they are centered between pins and the top of the buttonhole is about 5/8″ from top edge. That way you don’t have to stitch a buttonhole through the bulky seam allowance along the top edge. The pink dots represent the pins that I forgot to leave in for the picture in my eagerness to move on to next step.

Inner Bag 

temari tote v.2 18

Measure up from bottom to center of button hole. Mine is 5 1/2″. This is the height at which to stitch the twill tape to the inner bag fabric.

Yours might be different if you placed the buttonholes down further or used a different size of button and therefore buttonhole.


temari tote v.2 19

Just line up the sides of outer bag with the short side of the inner bag fabric and use the distance from bottom of outer bag to center of button hole and mark both short sides of inner bag fabric. Lay the Twill tape so it is centered over marks, pin in place and then stitch it down to fabric along both sides of the tape. Put a small pencil mark in one of the corners at the bottom edge so you will know which is top and which is bottom in later step. See my little mark in lower right corner?

With the twill tape to the outside, line up the short sides of the outer bag and stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance, then stitch again with an over-edge stitch. Press seam to one side and then turn the tube of fabric right side (so that the twill tape is inside).

temari tote v.2 20

Along the length of the 5″ x 30″ piece, fold over 1/2″ seam allowance on one edge towards back and press. Repeat for other side. Stitch folded edges down with a triple stitch zigzag stitch.

Note: It is difficult to see the edge of seam allowance in this picture because it is on the other side and just showing through the fabric. I don’t like to use pins and find that sewing it from the top side works well without pins.

temari tote v.2 21

Cut the strip into 2 1/2″ long pieces so there is 6 pieces at 2 1/2″ x 4″. Fold them in half along length and machine baste about 1/4″ from cut edges (not folded edge).

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Pin all six of the sleeves to the top edge of the inner bag evenly spaced apart. Arrange so that the seam on the inner bag is in one of the spaces between tabs.

Then stitch at 1/2″ from edge.

temari tote v.2 23

Use an over edge zigzag stitch to finish the seam edge.

temari tote v.2 24

Fold sleeves back and press. Stitch seam allowance down using a triple stitch zigzag stitch.

Note: Don’t let the fact that the outer bag and the drawstring cords are in this picture mislead you. Inserting the drawstrings is the last step. The tabs pictured here are a redo of this step. After the bag was “done” I discovered the original drawstring sleeves were too tight to allow the cords to cinch the bag closed.

temari tote v.2 25

Assembling Parts 

Pin together the inner and outer bags so that the little sleeves are spaced between the button holes. Machine baste them together about 1/4″ from edge.

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Install an eyelet at about 3/8″ below each buttonhole.

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In the next step, you are stitching the inner and outer bags together and creating pockets at the same time.

Use a narrow zigzag stitch and topstitch along outer bag seam up to the top stitching at top of bag, then switch zigzag settings to make a bar tack at top.

temari tote v.2 28

Lay bag flat and use a ruler to mark a vertical line that is centered between two button holes and stitch the same as the one on the seam in previous step. Repeat until all six are done.

temari tote v.2 29

Pin hexagon base to bag bottom. The vertical pocket seams that you just stitched will be lined up with the corners of the hexagon.

Using a zipper foot, stitch 3/8″ from edge. A zipper foot works well, allowing the seam to be about 1/8″ from stabilizer. When working with the bag bottom facing up, it is important to constantly be adjusting the bulk of the bag underneath so it does not get caught up in the seam. If it does, a seam ripper is a handy solution.

temari tote v.2 30

Using an over edge zigzag stitch to finish the seam edge.

For this step, the bag bottom was at the bottom to make it easier to stitch without worrying about fabric getting caught up in seam. Notice that each corner is clipped to make the seam allowance lie flat while stitching.

temari tote v.2 31

Fold the 1 1/2″ x 3″ strips down the length so that cut edges are to center and press. Next, stitch down center with triple zigzag stitch.

temari tote v.2 32

Slip one D-ring onto one band and slip two D-rings on the other band. With right side out, whip the two ends together to form a loop.

temari tote v.2 33

Before stitching the D-ring loops onto bag, make sure inner bag is folded down into bag, and pin it to outer bag to keep it out of the way when sewing on loop. That is what the pin in the picture below is for, not for pinning the loop in place.

For both loops, roll the seam to 1/2″ from the bottom fold and press.

For the loop with two D-rings, place loop on side seam with 1/4″ sticking above bag and both rings at the top fold. Remember to place the loop seam should be at bottom. Stitch loop in place at 1/2″ from bottom with a straight stitch to baste it in place and then secure it with a bar tack.

temari tote v.2 34

Slide one D-ring down and then stitch between the D-rings at 1/4″ from top of bag, first with straight stitch and then bar tack.

Attaching the loop with only one D-ring is the same, you just don’t have to deal with a second loop.

temari tote v.2 35

Sewing Buttons

To sew the buttons in place, it is easier to mark through the buttonhole to get proper button placement. Lay the bag flat on the table and insert a pencil in the middle of the buttonhole, give the pencil a twist to make a dot on the inner bag.

Stitch the buttons on the marks, which are on the outside of the inner bag. The twill tape that was sewn on the inside of the inner bag provides a backing for the buttons so that they don’t tear the fabric.

The buttons could have been sewn on before now, but they buttons are usually best saved for after machine stitching is done so that the buttons don’t get in the way or get snagged on something.

Drawstring Closure

Thread a length of cord through all six short sleeves so that two ends come out in space between two adjacent sleeves that lines up with one of the D-ring loops.

Thread the second length of cord so that it starts and ends at a space that is opposite the first one and lines up with the other D-ring loop. Tie ends and trim cords.

temari tote v.2 36

Now for the handle. The cording length was given as 4-6 feet since it depends on if you tend to braid tightly or loosely and if you use 3 or more strands to braid with. This handle is a four strand braid.

Cut the cord into two pieces and fold them both in half. Take the loop end of the cords and insert them into the top D-ring of the loop with two D-rings. Insert the cut ends through the cord loops and pull the cords through until the cords make a snug cow hitch (lanyard hitch) knot. Braid four strands together. There are plenty of tutorials on how to make a four strand braid on the internet. When the braid is long enough to wrap around one side of the bag to the other D-ring, split the braid end into two groups of two strands and insert on group through empty D-ring. continue to braid for a couple more inches and then tie off end and trim the cord ends about an inch from knot.

Note: you will want the handle to be long enough to wrap around one side of the bag so that it is out of the way when putting in or taking out the temari ball. See picture below.

Your temari project tote bag is done.

Here are a couple of accessories for your bag. A peek inside the bag shows a temari resting on a removable pillow. The pillow can be taken out and placed on a table to rest your temari on so it does not roll away. As mentioned before, the temari pillow tutorial will be in an upcoming tutorial.

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The next picture show the additional D-ring in use. A temari pincushion is made removable with the use of a lobster claw clasp.

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MotherOwl used this tutorial to make her own temari tote bag. She included nice details such as contrasting thread that matches the wooden buttons and cord handle and drawstrings that coordinate with the outer fabric. She was kind enough to share a picture, seen below. Thank you MotherOwl.

Temari Project Tote Bag- version two

Here is another temari project tote bag, but with some improvements on the original design. Before explaining the improvements, I should first admit that this post is a bit of a tease. You get to see the new, improved version before I post a tutorial on how you can make your own.

014Although this bag is made with different fabrics, only the inner fabrics are an improvement over the original one. The outer denim fabric was chosen to differentiate from the other bag.  Since I now have two temari tote bags, it would be nice at a glance to know which one to grab on the way out the door.

On a side note, the denim is from an old, castoff pair of my husbands jeans. The pants were worn until the fabric was nice and soft, but they had too many holes, and not just in the knees.


The original bag had mesh inner fabric which made it possible to see what was in the pocket from the inside. But that advantage was offset by the fact that pin heads sticking out of the ball would catch in the holes of the mesh fabric when taking the ball in or out of the bag and then the pins would get pulled out of the ball. This would not be a big deal except that the pins on temari are usually are for marking. It is no fun trying to re-measure and re-pin randomly plucked out pins when the time could be spent stitching.

So this time, a lovely light weight linen was used for the inner fabric.


The same linen fabric was used to make the little hexagon pillow for the temari. The pillow is not really necessary for the tote bag. But it is removable from the bag so that it can be used as a rest for the temari to sit on, which prevents the ball from rolling off a flat surface such a table.

This temari rest is more of a pillow in this version and more of a cushion in the original one. Knowing I would be writing a tutorial for this tote bag, I decided that the temari rest needed to be easier to make than the cushion, hence the pillow version. Although the pillow uses pellets to fill the form instead of foam, polyester fiber fill, like the kind used for pillows and stuffed animals, could be used instead.

This bag is a tad bit wider than the first one, so it will be reserved for slightly larger temari projects. Using the original bag for smaller temari will help prevent the pins from getting snagged and pulled out by the mesh since it is easier to wrap a small temari in my hand to keep the pins away from the mesh fabric.

This bag was made slightly larger so that the width of the pockets would be slightly more generous to fit my supplies easily. I noticed that the pockets in the original one were a bit of a tight fit for my larger thread balls and a snug fit for my needle book or my magnetic needle nest. The roomier pockets are more accommodating and easier to use.

The basic bag design is the same. The improvements include different fabric for the inner bag, larger pockets and an easier to make temari rest. Oh, and I moved  the eyelet holes up higher to make it easier to thread the thread through the eyelet holes. Of course this meant that the buttons and buttonholes had to be moved up too. I hope you like the new and improved version as much as I do.

In the upcoming tutorial, you will also get to see the temari pincushion made just for this bag and my homemade thread dispensers.

It will be a few days before the tutorial is posted, so come back soon or follow my blog so you get a notice when there is a new post.

Temari Project Tote Bag

This linen tote bag was designed and made especially for carrying a temari project. I got tired of fishing around in the bottom of a bag for tools, supplies or a temari. Pin heads sticking out of temari often tangled in thread and would get pulled out.

temari tote 1This was a challenging project for a couple of reasons. I started this project shortly after having surgery on my elbow of dominant hand. My arm was in a full arm splint that limited motion and pain also imposed limits. So, it progressed a little slowly, but this gave me time to think about steps rather than just plow through the project. The other challenge was designing the bag to have all the features that would make it easy to use.

The handle is a four strand rope braid. The rope was purchased from a hardware store years ago. Hanging off one of the handle straps is a temari pincushion, which is detachable.

temari pincushion

Notice the buttons and the eyelet holes. They are not decorations but are functional. The button close pockets that are on the inside which hold thread. The thread is threaded out the eyelet holes and pulled on when a length is needed. To secure the thread, it is wrapped around the button, similar to a button and string envelop where I got the idea from.

temari tote 2

In the picture above, one of the pockets is unbuttoned so you can see one of the pockets is used for a needle case and a pair of scissors.

The mesh pocket liner has a drawstring closure. Opened, it reveals a temari ball waiting to be stitched.

temari tote 3

Below, the ball has been removed to show the hexagon donut shaped pillow that the temari rests on. The pillow was made of a piece of foam covered in felt.

temari tote 4The base of the bag is a hexagon, but it does not show in the picture.

temari tote 5Taken out, the donut pillow makes a nice rest so the ball does not roll off a table.

temari tote 6


Blue Plaid and Denim Tote

blue plaid and denim tote

This bag was going to be a plain plaid bag. But the addition of the denim, to reinforce the bottom and to make a pocket, along with the braided trim gave the blue tote bag more character.

I really like the blue plaid fabric and will be sad when it is all used up as I have no source for more of it. The weight of the fabric is similar to a lightweight canvas. It is the same fabric used for the crutches bag. The denim is left over from a pair jeans that I used to make a small project tote bag. And the wonderful braided trim is from my grandmother’s stash of trims that my mother gave me many years ago.

It would have been a rather plain bag without the denim and trim.

Two More Bags

Both of these shoulder bags are made from fabrics found at a thrift store. They are very similar in design. They both have adjustable shoulder straps, magnetic snap closures, fully lined and have an inner pocket. They are also lined with a stabilizer fabric to give the bag a little stiffness to help it retain it’s shape.

horizontal strip bag

The striped fabric used for this bag was an upholstery sample that still had it tag on it when I purchased it. The whole piece was used. I let the size and shape of the piece dictate what the size and shape of the bag would be. The bag is lined with the same fabric that the strap is made of, which was also a thrift store find.

flowering tree bag

This bag is roughly the same dimensions as the other bag. Since there was plenty of fabric, it was easier to copy the one I had already made. There was enough of this lovely upholstery weight flowering tree fabric to have left overs for a couple more bags, so I imagine there will be a couple more in the works soon. I think the fabric would  make a nice tote bag.

None of the bags I make are from patterns. I just make up the design as I go.


Quilted Mini Tote with Braided Cord Button Tie

This bag was inspired by the wonderful bronze colored fabric that is quilted with a turquoise thread.

mini tote with tourquoise button, view 1

It is fully lined complete with little pocket on back side of lining.

mini tote with tourquoise button, view 2

A fabric covered button that is padded with batting and covered with the same turquoise fabric as the lining is used for the closure. The tie closure is made of a four strand braid that is weighted and finished with a bead. Making the braid took a little longer than anticipated.

mini tote with tourquoise button, view 3

Two Upcyle Tote Bags

Carolyn, a friend I met years ago through our quilt guild, was debriding collected stuff since she is moving. So, she gave me a bunch of fabric and other things. Among the fabrics were some scraps that were just seemed to want to become a tote bag.

carolyn's scraps bag

I made the one above then gave it to her when I saw her at our quilt guild meeting as a going away gift. I will miss seeing her at the meetings, but there is always internet to stay in touch.

placemat tote

Among other things she brought over was a couple of matching placemats. One got transformed into a box and the other became this small tote. The tan fabric on the top was a scrap from a thrift store and the ribbon used on the handles was a scrap from my box of ribbons.

The box bag is almost done, but not quite, so maybe it will show up in a later post after it is completed and my frustration with it has worn off.

Even though both totes were made from fabrics from my friend’s scraps (mostly), they ended up with very different personalities.