Fabric selection took me forever. I had a hard time finding enough different shades of the same color in the same type of solid fabric (Jo-Ann's solids section is always a disaster), and I wasn't sure I wanted to stray too far from the original concept. [Some of the other testers had a bit more imagination, though, and picked some fantastic fabric and pattern combinations. You can check out the testers' photos on the Cozy Nest Design blog -- they are all really cool.]
I finally decided to go with a bright and cheery rainbow effect using a ROYGBIV color palette. Well, it was ROYGBP, anyway. I followed Sarah's lead and used white for the binding and thin stripes between the color blocks, but it would have looked pretty cool with black or denim strips too. (As usual, red and orange don't seem to photograph well for me, so you will just have to trust me that the bottom panel is red and the next panel up is orange.)
The front and back of the bag are mirror images of each other, and it's cool to see how the color blocks meet up on the sides. Shockingly enough, I got almost all of them to meet up nicely!
The tote is terrifically deep -- perfect for a laptop, a couple of beach towels for the pool, or even as an overnight bag for a quick trip. The official dimensions for the finished bag are 18" wide x 15" high (26" with handles) x 4" deep. I can imagine using it to haul supplies when volunteering at the elementary school, but I still haven't decided whether I will give this bag away yet. It would make a great teacher gift for sure.
The quilting cotton is interfaced, plus there is a layer of medium-weight canvas interlining to give the bag nice substance. Some of the testers quilted theirs with a layer of batting added, and they reported it gave the bag even more structure. It's great un-quilted too, because it could easily be stashed away somewhere without taking up much room.
Inside, there is an internal zipper pocket, and it closes with a magnetic clasp. After I finished my test bag, Sarah took the advice of a tester and added a couple of curved patch pockets inside as well. It was a neat use of some fabric that was cut away after the shape of the handles was created, which I adored. I'm kicking myself for finishing too quickly and missing out on adding those to my bag too.
The bag had a lot of pieces to it, plus each piece (including the lining) is interfaced. That made for a long prep process before I could get to the fun part of sewing the actual bag. It was totally worth all of the work, though, because the outcome is very striking. Making that bag in just one solid color (without the color blocking) would have resulted in simply a nice, but unremarkable, tote. The stripes are key.
When I first printed out the pattern pages, I started to panic a little. My kitchen island is over seven feet long, and I just about covered the whole thing with the printed pages when I taped them together. I was scared that my sewing skills weren't going to be up to par at this point.
My camera was broken at the time, so I took a photo with the iPad of all of the pattern pieces once they were cut out. I had to take it after I had ironed on all of the interfacing because there wasn't enough space on the table (since I took out all of the table leaves, it's a lot shorter to make room for my sewing table in the dining room) for all of it! Thank goodness the pattern includes little labels to pin to the fabric once you cut it out so you don't get confused.
Somehow, is magically all came together without a hitch. (Well, perhaps it wasn't magic -- just great pattern design and directions!) Here is another progress shot I took to send to Erin to brag about how amazing the bag was turning out. Isn't that beautiful? That would make a neat wall-hanging for a nursery.
Since I typically have a terrible time maintaining consistent seam allowances, I was afraid my finished product would be a little wonky. Without all of the placement notches on the pattern pieces and meticulous directions to keep me on track, a hot mess probably would have been the result. I can't even begin to image how Sarah can dream up her fantastic designs, engineer them, and then create the patterns for others to follow. I bow down to the master.
The Spectrum Tote pattern can be purchased on Craftsy, and is absolutely worth every penny. Thank you, Sarah, for allowing me to test for you again! You are one in a million.