Wood Carrier Tote Hack / Making No. 8 / FOREST
One of the projects in our newest issue of Making No. 8 / FOREST is another beautiful pattern by the talented Anna Graham of Noodlehead, the Wood Carrier found on pages 44-49. This project immediately brought back memories of my youth and sitting in front of the warm fireplace that was at the center of my childhood home. Even though it didn't get too cold in the wintertime where I grew up, my dad still liked to light a fire in the evenings sometimes, which always felt like a treat. Since we lived in the suburbs of Orange County, CA, we didn't collect firewood, but because my dad is a contractor, he would bring home scrap wood or pallets that would serve as our fuel.
There's something lovely about sitting in front of a warm fire, whether it's in your home or out at camp. I love listening to the crackle and pop and am mesmerized by how it moves and breathes. And even though I don't have a fireplace in my home now, nor do I gather wood, I knew I wanted to try this project and hack it into more of a bag for those of us who'd like to utilize its unique and modern shape in another way.
Anna's patterns are always so thoughtfully created, unique, and truly a joy to make, so I was excited to get started on this hack. I initially had a few ideas for how to transform this pattern into more of a bag, but I wanted to maintain the distinct angled shape of the design and continue to play on that theme. I had all my pieces cut and laid out, then played around with them a bit, pinning things into different forms to try and figure out what I liked best. Finally, not entirely with a plan, I got started choosing to go with the flow and feel out what worked best for the fabric and pattern pieces. The more I worked, the more it became apparent that simplicity was best for this hack. All that was really needed was a few seams at the sides, which is what I did by using a French seam. There were a few changes necessary to do this, and in the next post, I'll share that tutorial.
I love the way this simple tote bag turned out. Since it doesn't have a bottom panel, it's nice and flat, making it perfect to use as a laptop or book tote. This pattern is generously sized to accommodate wood, so it's also wonderful for carrying other significant things like blankets and towels for trips to the park or beach. I also think it's the perfect shape and size for farmers markets or craft fairs, and, you know, trips to the fabric store.
Tips and Thoughts
I'm a big fan of simple canvas bags, a trend that's become popular lately, which is great for us home sewists because the look is easy to create. I'm also a fan of the natural or colorless canvas look, which is what I used for this project. I love the simplicity in this color, and that it goes with any outfit. When it comes to shoes and bags, I've always been more of a natural minimalist, though I can't say that for the rest of my closet, so simple and clean was my desire.
I'd initially ordered a few fabrics, including a waxed canvas that I planned to use for this project, but after they arrived, I didn't feel they were right for the project, or at least, the look wasn't speaking to me. That happens sometimes, and I think it's nice to give ourselves some flexibility in being able to change plans to fuel our greatest creativity. In my case, it was by entirely simplifying things. I decided to take a trip down to the Purl Soho warehouse here in Orange County, CA, to give their canvas a feel, which is when I fell in love with the fabric.
The fabric I used for this project is Purl Soho's Natural 10-ounce Canvas, which is a stunning and natural-looking fabric. It's 100% cotton, a creamy off-white color (more creamy and less white than it appears online), and has little flecks of brown throughout it that gives it an extra level of charm. I've used Purl Soho's 24-ounce Canvas before for one of their bag patterns, which is an equally stunning fabric. After using this 10-ounce version, I've decided that it will be my go-to canvas for bag making from now on. I love the color, durability, availability, and price point of this beautiful fabric.
I continued thinking that I'd use the brown waxed canvas for the contrast bottom, but when it finally came time to install it, I decided to go with the most minimal look and used the same fabric for the contrast bottom. Even though the canvas and webbing for the straps are all the same color, there is a bit of understated line detailing in this pattern, which gives texture to a project made of a single color. It's a quiet form of radiance, which is my favorite kind.
Anna suggests using Denim or Microtex needles for this project. Since I had both on hand, I decided to compare their performance. I started with the Denim needle, which produced somewhat crooked and messy-looking stitches when sewing down the edges of the carrier in the early steps. Then I switched to a Micrtotex needle and was more pleased with the result; the stitches weren't messy and came out straight. I found it interesting that the Microtex needle worked so well since, in the past, I've used it exclusively for sewing silk. According to Schmetz ABC Pocket Guide, Microtex needles are one of the sharper available, have a very slim acute point, create straight stitches when topstitching, which is what I found to be true when I used one on this project. Denim needles, on the other hand, have a medium ball point and reinforced blade, making them ideal for working with thick fabrics. Later, when I sewed the French seams to close the sides, I switched back to the Denim needle. The way a needle responds to the material will always vary, so I suggest trying different ones to find what works best for your specific project. If I didn't have a Microtex or Denim needle on hand, I would start with my standard Universal needle, which is what I typically use for most fabrics, including denim. If you find that you're getting skipped or crooked stitches, try a different needle. Also, grabbing a copy of this Schmetz ABC Pocket Guide, or downloading the app for Apple or Android might be helpful. I find it comes in handy often, and it's also interesting to learn about the needle anatomy and differences in each type since even the slightest change can improve the sewing experience and quality of the item being made. I stick to Schmetz needles because they're what my grandma has always used and are some of the most high quality available.
P.S. Did you know that you can buy Schmetz needles in bulk? This is the way my grandma and I buy our Universal needles so that we never run out!
Alright, now that I'm done with my tangent on canvas and sewing needles, we can get to how I hacked this pattern. See the Wood Carrier Hack / Tutorial post for the details! - Emily
P.S. If you're curious about the dress I'm wearing in this post, you can find all the details in the Array Shirt Dress Hack post!