as new, exhausted, exasperated parents, we often hear, “kids don’t come with an instruction manual.” ain’t that the truth. every baby is different, even if as a parent you are the same. every one of them requires their own individual tool kit, and adding a new one to the fray can definitely throw that equilibrium out of whack. there’s not much we can do as bystanders to aid growing families in this transitional period other than offer our love and support…and this bag.
you may recall that roughly one year ago, i posted my first super tote, at the time a rare bit of selfish sewing. i think it was the first tote bag i’d ever sewn for myself, and i remember feeling like i would never finish it. in spite of carefully selecting (and splurging on) the fabrics, it fell victim to a common irony among seamstresses (or maybe it’s just me)…once i finished it, i decided i didn’t like it anymore. fortunately, its spaciousness and storage capabilities makes it a terrific diaper bag, so it was quickly relegated to that fate rather than gathering dust at the back of my closet.
needless to say, i wasn’t in a huge hurry to sew any more of these, but it caught the attention of a very old friend and previous college roommate of mine. with her own toddler and, hush hush, a new babe on the way, she too wanted a giant tote full of pockets to fill with the necessities. i love to make gifts for people, and she even gave me free reign of the fabric choices (with one limitation–NO birds as she happens to be an ornithologist and the bird thing gets a little old). my excitement was renewed, and i quickly ordered a variety of sun print by alison glass, which was hot off the press a year ago, but i still love just as much today!
then a few things happened. so many that i can’t quite remember all of them, but this gift, like SO many gifts in the past year, kept getting shoved to the back of the line. shortly after receiving the fabric, i had to seriously buckle down for art fair, which ate up the entire fall and early winter. then i had to play major catch up to get holiday gifts done. days after the new year i went back to work, and while i found time here and there to eventually get the whole bag cut, i just couldn’t find the time to construct it. and my very supportive friend, the FIRST ever customer in my etsy shop, waited patiently through the holiday season, the entire course of her pregnancy, and through the first few months of her new baby’s life to finally receive this bag she requested over a year ago……….have i mentioned i’m a terrible business person (and negligent friend)?!
there is one redeeming aspect to the lag time, which is that in the course of the past year, my own super tote has evolved into our stalwart toddler survival kit. we keep it loaded up with everything we need to have a mostly seamless outing, just adding some new snacks and a change of clothes before we head out for the day. it occurred to me that while the bag is nice on its own, it makes a pretty kick ass gift when you fill it with some thoughtful goodies. packing that activity bag can be a huge pain, and we love the convenience of being able to just grab a bag of tricks on the way out the door, whether we’re just headed to a restaurant for a meal, for a day trip, or a longer vacation.
this bag does have ample room for storage, and this is very similar to what our own bag looks like on the inside. if entertaining little ones isn’t quite so close to home for you, here is what the bag is stocked with:
- diapers, wipes, diaper cream
- hand sanitizing wipes
- age appropriate non perishable snacks: baby purees and crackers/nut butter
- teething toy
- coloring book and crayons
- play dough
the bag we use for our kids also has some of their favorite books and water bottles. with a change of clothes, this should keep kids comfortable and satisfied (and electronics free, since we’re old fashioned that way) for a pretty good stretch!
as for the nitty gritty, it’s a fantastic pattern and you really can’t go wrong, even if you are a beginner seamstress. it will offer you all the tips and tricks you need to make this a sturdy, professional looking bag with lots of customization options. it went much faster than i remembered, probably because i wasn’t rushing through it this time. i’d even say it came together quickly, since i had done all the cutting and prep beforehand, which can be involved depending on your fabric choices. since i used mainly quilting cottons, i followed the instructions outlined in the pattern about reinforcing with two types of interfacing, and now it feels like canvas all around. for my outer pocket, i chose to line it fully and add a magnetic snap. i wish i had added a layer of interfacing to the pocket just to make it a bit less flimsy. i also lowered the outer pocket piece down by about 2″ only because i love that geometric arrow print and didn’t want to cover it all with the text! my zipper is 24″ long instead of the 18″ called for in the pattern–that was just out of desperation as eventually, a lack of zipper and motivation were my two largest barriers to beginning construction. at joann one day, i just bought the longest coordinating metal zipper i could find. while you can’t shorten a metal zipper, you can just center it accordingly and have a longer tail, which i think is fine. the recessed zipper piece and the lining are both birch brand quilting cottons i bought on sale long ago–i’m not sure they’re in print anymore. the straps and gusset are black essex linen.
anyhow, i love how the bag turned out, at long last. now that i’ve decided i don’t mind making it, i can see this becoming a go-to gift for baby showers, and maybe for the annual auction at my kids’ school. i’d definitely consider this for your next baby/kid related gift!