Oh hello February! Plus a Genoa tote of epic marvellousness

So, it's February! How on EARTH has that happened? Does anyone else need to find the slow down button for their universe? Anyway, it is February which means that January has long gone and I'm yet to do any kind of 2016 wrap up bla bla bla. I'm going to be honest - I just can't be bothered. I've loved reading everyone else's but I've kind of missed the boat on this one and am so far into 2017 sewing I can't really be bothered looking back that much. 

Lets just say 2016 had far fewer misses than hits, an embarrassingly low number of zips and buttonholes inserted, many repeat makes tinkering with minor details and lots of lovely fabrics acquired. And socks! I knitted socks (3 to be exact!). 

Today I'm sharing one of my last projects from 2016 - it is the marvellous Genoa tote, a collaboration between my delightful friend Blogless Anna and Melbourne pattern designer Pattern Fantastique.

I'm sure you've seen lots of these floating around the webs and Instagram. True to form I am late to the party. But this lateness means I have been using my marvellous bag and can report back on it's extreme usefulness and fabulousness, not just the sewing part! 

The bag comes in three sizes - I clearly have made the largest version. I made my mum the medium sized version for Christmas and every time we take our beauties out we get comments on them. I tell anyone who will listen that bag making is a great gateway drug into sewing and therefore garment making. 

It's a great pattern. Yes Anna is my friend and generously gave me a copy but I think you all know my frankness that I shan't spruik something that isn't worth sharing. She's done an exceptional job with the instructions, including a full appendix on the leather strap application. There's lots of terrific little details that elevate this from basic rectangle bag to a very useful practical item that is beautifully finished. 

The pattern is designed for heavy weight fabrics, particularly denim, but I couldn't find any denim that was heavy enough at the time I was looking. I was at Spotlight one day as a last resort, thinking I might buy some lightweight denim and underline it, perhaps do some cool seaming as a bit of a feature, when I found this amazing tapestry fabric in the furnishing fabric section. I'm pretty sure I squealed when I found it, as I'm very drawn to foliage prints at the moment and totally obsessed with my houseplant collection. I also found some great cotton ticking fabric for my mum (who is very into stripes too) so it's well worth checking out furnishing fabrics if you can't find inspiration in the dressmaking section. 

The heavy weave of the tapestry meant I had to overlock every raw edge to prevent unravelling, before sewing it all together - worth the extra step to ensure longevity!

Sadly I can't find a finished pic of my mums bag, but I did have this blatant show off from Instagram displaying my kickarse stripe matching skills. 

My bag is lined in some leftover ikat cotton from my stash and the pocket some chambray scraps. I couldn't find a keyring clip the same dimensions recommended in the pattern so had to improvise my fabric tab but that was easily done. 

I was lucky enough that Anna attached my straps for me with her industrial rivet press, so I can't comment on how easy that is to do at home, but many have without drama. The instructions direct how to cut or source your own straps, but strap kits can also be purchased via the Pattern Fantastique website in various colours.

I adore my giant bag. I can safely attest I have carried a 6-pack of beer, a bottle of wine, 3 bags of chips and some chocolate honeycomb within, whilst still looking uber stylish and not at all overloaded. It's simple design means customisation would be so easy - I've seen external pockets added to great effect, some beautiful leather versions, and Nita Jane's incredible shearling version is amazing - wouldn't a giant wool version be great as a winter bag, acting as a stylish windbreak?

What's your favourite bag pattern? Could you handle the giant Genoa in your life?