Today I'm sharing with you the Field Study Tote bag by Betz White. I recently made this lovely bag for my first contributor post on the Betz White blog. It was my first time sewing one of her bag patterns, and I can't say enough good things about it! Keep reading for more details on the Field Study Tote and to see more photos of this awesome bag!
The Field Study Tote bag is versatile and can be worn as both a large or an extra large bag. There are times when I am on a school field trip with my children or spending a day out at a local fair where I need to carry more items than usual, and the Field Study Tote gives me the flexibility to do just that!
The Field Study Tote design offers both purse handles as well as a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap. Attach the shoulder strap to the lower set of d-rings, fold over the top of the bag, and carry the smaller version of the bag with things in it like your wallet, phone, tablet, and a zipper pouch filled with personal items; or, attach the shoulder strap to the upper set of d-rings, and fill the tote like a small back-pack or briefcase with a laptop, tablet, file folders, or other work items.
The inside of the Field Tote is very spacious and includes both a large zipper pocket and a slip pocket. For my version, I omitted the fusible fleece and velcro closure from the inner slip pocket and instead sewed a seam down the middle of the pocket to create two separate slip pockets. These pockets are large enough to hold a phone, keys, pens, a lipstick or any small item you don't want to get lost in the main part of the bag.
The outside pocket is the width of the bag and is huge! As you can see below, it's plenty big enough to hold an i-pad or even a small laptop.
My favorite part of this bag is the method used to sew in the zipper tabs. Betz' pattern showed me a technique I had never used before which eliminated the zipper tabs from being sewn into the side seams. When I first read through the instructions, I thought it would never work, but now it is my go-to method for sewing zipper pouches or zip top bags!
For the main part of my Field Study Tote, I had originally wanted to use a cotton/linen blend fabric or a canvas print, but everything I could find that I liked was a directional print! It's important to note, that whatever print you use for the main bag, be sure to pay close attention to the direction of the print since the top of the bag can be folded over. On a quick visit to one of my favorite local fabric shops, I found this silky soft cotton print called Adventure Springs from Art Gallery Fabrics that I fused both Shape Flex and Fusible Fleece to in order to provide support. Although the arrows really only point in one direction, it's barely noticeable since the angle of the arrows stays the same when the top of the bag is flipped over.
The bottom of the bag, the purse handles, and the adjustable strap were all constructed using a textured faux leather. This fabric had the weight and drape of a real suede leather hide and was very easy to sew but cost far less than real leather! Because the faux leather is made with a sturdy synthetic backing, I opted to only fuse Shape Flex to pieces used on the bag bottom. When doing so, I made sure to use a press cloth and not keep the iron in any one spot for longer than 5 seconds. It took a little longer to fuse, but I did not want to damage the faux leather by exposing it to excessive heat.
TIP: Reduce bulk in your seams by cutting the interfacing and fusible fleece without the seam allowance.
The interior of the bag and the outer pocket lining were made from a printed cotton canvas. Since I used both Shape Flex and Fusible Fleece on all the exterior bag pieces, I opted to omit any interfacing or fleece from the lining.
While a note in the Field Study Tote pattern encourages repurposing or reusing fabrics from discarded clothing, I encourage you to recycle or upcycle purse hardware as well. For my bag, I recycled hardware from an adjustable strap I purchased at my local Goodwill Outlet store. I saved the black webbing I salvaged the buckle and clips from and will reuse it eventually on another project, and the entire strap with hardware cost me less than 50 cents! I often go there to find purse hardware including d-rings, o-rings, buckles, clips, magnetic snaps, purse zippers, or purse handles. To read more about what I look for when selecting a purse or bag to upcycle, read my blog post about Tips for Upcycling Purse Hardware on my blog, sewVery.
For a bag that has room for everything, you must try the Field Study Tote! You can purchase the pattern in Betz White's Etsy Shop here.
Have FUN sewing!