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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review 3: Traveling in Circles Tote by Becca of Bryan House Quilts

Tote in this picture made by Stephanie of Sew Cozy

DONE! Finally done the tutorial for my third review! I started losing hope when I saw the two hour mark go by and still another ten pages to go (I copy pasted the tutorial into a Word document so I could print it off, and it took 17 pages). I have a lot to say about this tutorial, so lets begin! Click here to see the full tutorial.

Creator: Becca of Bryan House Quilts

Timeline: Approximately 4.5 hours (!!)

Estimated cost: 20$
1/2 yard cotton print: 2.25$ at Mardens - Outer fabric
1/2 yard cotton print: 6.99$ (13.99$/m) for members at Fabricville (19.99$/m for non-members) - Lining
1/2 yard lightweight muslin: 2.88$ (7.19$/m) for members at Fabricville (8.99$/m for non-members) - Interfacing
1/2 yard Pellon Fusible Fleece: 3.49$ (6.98$/yd--was 8.98$/yd when I bought it) at - Interfacing
(1) 22 inch zipper: 1.95$ at Fabricville
(2) 6 inch zippers: 2.70$ (1.35$ each) at Fabricville

Difficulty level: Intermediate to advanced sewer. Working with circles and multiple layers of fabric can be tricky, especially when the directions aren't 100% clear.

First tote made with the tutorial. Notice the bunching of fabric around the circle.

This was a frustrating tutorial to follow. On more than one occasion I wasn't exactly sure what I was supposed to do and had to restart a few steps. But, I love this tote! It's adorable and unique.

1) The materials list calls for lightweight muslin, batting scraps and optional lightweight interfacing. Isn't that a bit much? I opted to skip the "batting scraps" and only used lightweight muslin and heavy interfacing. When I redid the tutorial, I skipped the muslin and just used the heavy interfacing because I didn't see the use of the muslin. If I redo it again, I might try using heavy canvas to add even more stability to the bag.

2) Marking the circular and cylindrical pieces at each quarter. This was wayyy too time consuming! There are easier ways to make sure the pieces are aligned.

3) From the print, cut a 4 inch by WOF strip. Does anyone know what "WOF" means? I didn't, so I had to figure it out. From what I gathered, it means you have to not cut it any particular length, instead leaving it very long so you can cut it at a later time. (Because you have to pleat the bottom at your desired "pleated-ness" to have bigger or smaller pockets, which will make the strip longer or shorter.) A little explanation would have been appreciated in the tutorial.

Second tote made with the tutorial. It turned out much better thanks to the correct scaling of the pattern! (See below for details.)

4) A few times in the tutorial, some of the fabric pieces had to be cut again into different sized strips. I think these steps could all have been done at the same time at the beginning.

5) When the tutorial says to turn the lining piece pockets down, it doesn't mean the pockets are upside-down. (I made this mistake and it took me 15 extra minutes to undo the seam and start over.) It actually means the pockets are on the bottom, the way they're supposed to be.

6) A few of the pictures aren't accurate. For example, the pink lining will be shown instead of the muslin in the final assembly steps.

7) The second time I did the tutorial, I didn't quilt on top of the outer fabric. The bag looks OK both ways, so whether you decide to quilt or not is up to personal preference!

See the bunching? It isn't too bad, but I didn't have this problem on my second go at the tutorial.

LESSON LEARNED (the hard way): Towards the end of the tutorial when I had to assemble all of the pieces together, I got frustrated. The circle pieces for the top and bottom of the bag weren't big enough by more than an inch! At first I blamed the creator of the pattern. However, being more than three hours into the tutorial, I made due with the situation and ended up creating a bunch of pleats in the bag so that the contour of the bag would fit on the circles...which made me not so happy about the end result.

After being done, I took another look at the circle template I had printed off from the tutorial. It indicated on the circle that it was 8 inches in diameter. Now anyone who's ever printed off a pattern knows there's always a line that's one inch long on the first page so that you can measure it to make sure your pattern is the right scale. Well, I measured this line (after being done the tutorial) and it was only 0.75 of an inch. Which means I had a circle that was 7.4 inches in diameter instead of 8. HERE WAS MY PROBLEM! So, I must apologize to Becca (creator of the tutorial). Had I unchecked the "scale to page" option when I printed the pattern, my circle tote would have turned out just fine.

Second tote made with the tutorial.

Although I struggled, I have to say that the circle tote is very cute. I wish the tutorial had been a little more clear, but if I hadn't screwed up, the bag would probably be perfect! It certainly inspired me to start sketching out a new tote tutorial for myself. Want to give this tutorial a shot? Head on over to Bryan House Quilts!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next Wednesday for review number 4!


  1. Thanks for the thorough review. I think it's spot on.

    It's a challenging bag to make, and was an even more challenging tutorial to write. (I think!) There can be some variance in the way the bag is constructed and some size drift as the bag is taken from step to step. Each time I've remade this bag, I've had to refer to my own instructions and carefully think through the placement of the pockets.

    I will go back and indicate what WOF means. Sorry. WOF means the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage; usually after the selvages are removed it is 40 inches. For example, when I say "cut 4 inches by WOF" that means cut a rectangle 4 inches by 40 inches.

    And the tutorial is SO long. I think in the future, I will create a downloadable PDF for tutorials.

    Your bags turned out great! Thanks so much!

  2. Thank you Becca! I'm happy you liked the revue! I've had a lot of positive feedback from my friends about the tote, which is an adorable design, so I have to thank you for the tutorial as well (as I'm sure it took a lot of time to make)!

    I hope you have a great new year with time for lots of sewing projects! :)