It was an unusually busy week for me last week, and only now do I feel like I can breathe deeply again. In between various errands, dental appointments, impromptu babysitting, an appointment with an accountant, a birthday lunch, a birthday party, and a school field trip with my son, I managed to squeeze in some time for a couple of sewing projects. Here's one of them, an Oliver + S Mother-Daughter tote (free pattern) for my niece's 8th birthday.
If that sounds familiar, it's because I used this same pattern before to make totes for my 9-year-old twin nieces last fall (all three young ladies are cousins). Here's the purple tote:
As you can see, I tweaked the pattern by using one large stripe for the middle instead of two smaller ones, and using the same complementary solid-color fabric for the bottom, top stripe, and handles. While I loved the original patchwork feel, I was going for a different, more elegant look. I was inspired by the dragonfly/butterfly fabric and knew that I couldn't simply use it as an unrecognizable stripe on the tote. So instead I decided to "frame" it and make it the centerpiece. (If you're interested in how I dealt with the dimensions, I simply added the height dimensions of the two middle stripes, from 3.25 inches each to one larger piece that was 6.5 inches. The height dimension of the lining had to be increased two inches to 23 inches. The rest of the dimensions remained the same, but the change resulted in a slightly taller tote than the original.) I think the tote turned out wonderfully, and this time around I was more meticulous about cutting the pieces and doing any necessary trimming as I went along so that the seam edges matched as closely as possible (though unfortunately still not perfect).
Here's a closeup of the awesome dragonfly/butterfly fabric, superimposed with different handwritten designs appearing to be the work of a natural historian or entomologist. The fabric design is both lovely and intellectual, and I thought it would be appropriate for a youngster who is exceedingly bright.
I don't have a photo of the inside lining, but for some fun I used this colorful stripey fabric which might look familiar to long-time readers. I used the same fabric to make an art smock from another Oliver + S pattern last summer. For this tote, I had the stripes going horizontally since it looked better that way. I wanted to use a colorful fabric for the lining because I personally get a kick out of seeing polka-dotted or brightly-colored linings in elegant leather purses or wallets. The contrast makes me feel like I've got a fun little secret, like when I wear bright patterned socks underneath pants or boots. Just one of the things that float my boat. :-)