Maine, United States

Making No. 9 / SIMPLE / Makes / Pepin Tote
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Making No. 9 / SIMPLE / Makes / Pepin Tote

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In addition to some other amazing sewing patterns in our newest issue, Making No. 9 / SIMPLE, features a beautiful pattern from Anna Graham of Noodlehead, the Pepin Tote. Just when you think Anna couldn't make yet another incredible tote bag pattern, she does, and I am head over heels in love with it. I've been using this bag for a few months now, and I have to say, Anna is right, this is the perfect everyday tote. 

Anna is such an incredible bag designer that I get excited every time she releases something new. I always feel like sewing one of Anna's patterns is such an enjoyable and educational experience. I love that with this bag pattern, she uses some different techniques compared to her other patterns that have been in Making, which makes me feel that even though it's an easy make, my sewing knowledge continues to grow. 

You might remember me professing my love for Anna's Wool and Wax Tote, a pattern from Making No. 2 / FAUNA, which I made and published on the blog a few months ago. If you're curious about how the bags differ, the biggest one for me is the shape. While the Wool and Wax Tote maintains a classic elongated tote bag shape, the Pepin Tote is a little less shallow, which gives it the ability to function more like a purse or laptop bag. I love that I can easily fit my 12" laptop in it along with a few books and other supplies, which makes it a great work tote. 

I think my favorite thing about this bag has to be is the simplicity of it both in its design and the sewing process. This year, in my makes, I've been drawn back to the simple things, so this pattern is the perfect one for me right now. 


The fabric I used for my bag is a remnant that was purchased at my local Joann's; I don't know much about it, only that it was marked 100% cotton, so I took it home in the hopes that I'd find a use for it one day. I couldn't decide if I really liked the color, it's an odd, murky green, but I figured that since it's cotton, I could always dye it.

When I saw the pattern as part of our newest issue, I immediately wanted to make it. I looked through my fabric stash to see what could work, and this remnant jumped out at me. If fabric could talk, it would have said, please make me into that tote!" So I decided to go with it, and I'm happy that I did. The color has really grown on me; I love that since it's a bit darker compared to some of the other bags I've made, I don't have to worry much about getting it dirty and think it will hold up well to a lot of use.

Exterior Fabric Recommendations 

Anna recommends waxed canvas or cotton canvas for the exterior. Even though the canvas I used is pretty lightweight, it's a bit stiff, which is why it worked so well for this pattern and makes me wonder if it might actually be upholstery fabric. 

Some exterior fabrics I think would work well for this pattern include: 

Our Fray Print Canvas Fabric. I used this for the Wool + Wax Tote, Making Backpack and Tool Roll projects, and would say it's an ideal weight for the Pepin Tote. I'd love to make it again with this fabric and use webbing for the handles instead of leather. 

Merchant and Mills has an excellent selection of waxed canvas fabrics, some of my favorites include Olive Dry OilskinStorm Dry Oilskin, and for a more classic waxed canvas, Chocolate Oilskin

The Merchant and Mills Dry Oilskin fabrics are also available at Purl Soho in a variety of colors

If you're looking to make a natural colored, minimal style tote similar to the white one featured in the issue, Purl Soho's Natural 10-Ounce Canvas is a great option and one of my favorite fabrics. I used this canvas for the Wood Carrier Tote Hack project, a pattern from Making No. 9 / FOREST

Fancy Tiger Crafts has a really fun collection of canvas fabrics; this floral one is my favorite. 

Note: If you go with a lighter weight canvas or one that may be a cotton/linen blend, I'd recommend applying additional interfacing to stiffen up and strengthen the exterior a bit.

Lining Fabric Recommendation

For the lining fabric, I used an off-white Kona Cotton, the same fabric I used for the Wool + Wax Tote and Making Backpack, which paired really well the canvas since it's relatively stiff cotton. Kona Cotton has become my go-to for bag linings since it's such high-quality cotton and is pretty sturdy, but any quilting cotton would work well. 


I had a pair of leather handles from Anna's shop in my stash in the Natural color, but I wasn't sure how I felt about the color combination with the main green fabric. I looked at the other colors available in the Noodlehead shop, which is when I learned that since the natural color handles are vegetable-tanned, they will change color and darken a bit over time, so I decided to go with the ones I had. 


I've shared lots of tips on bag-making throughout the various projects I've made, so here's a little roundup of the ones that may be helpful when doing this project.  

Applying Interfacing (and other bag-making tips)

Working with Heavier Fabrics 

Sewing Leather Straps (scroll to the bottom of the post) 

I hope you give this pattern a try! You can grab a copy of Making No. 9 / SIMPLE HERE to get started. Happy making! - Emily