Tanya Whelan

My new go-to everyday bag

Every day, I take a 5-ish kilometer walk around the lake near my apartment. Craftin’ can involve a lot sittin’, I’m sure you know, and you need something to fight that. I’ve started going first thing in the morning so it’s nice and quiet and, most days, it’s a lovely walk. Just me and an audiobook or some musics and the sunshine (sometimes – this is Holland, after all).

My sittin' spot

If it is a sunny day, I’m usually about 10 seconds from completely melting by the time I get to this point. This here is my Sittin’ Spot – another reason I like going in the morning, this spot is very rarely taken that early. You can’t really see it here, but nearly the whole other side of the lake is in direct sunlight. That sounds lovely, but can be a bit much on a really bright day. This is the perfect spot to stop for ten or fifteen minutes and enjoy the breeze. (As you can see, I share my spot with a family of … some kind of birds. But that’s ok, we all mind our own business and get along just fine.)

Because I have much common sense, I always take a bottle of water with me, and some band-aids and whatnot. The usual always-in-your-bag stuff. And my iPod. Also a couple of notebooks for ideas. And often an umbrella (this is Holland, after all). Every single day, I throw all that stuff into my new very favorite go-to bag for everyday stuff.

Reversible Tote

This is the Reversible Bag from the ridiculously skilled Very Purple Person. I did a test version first with some adorable Ikea fabric (photos here) before I cut into this beautiful Tanya Whelan fabric (from the Dolce line). I knew I wanted to use those two fabrics for a summer handbag, but I’d originally envisioned something small – similar to the Buttercup bag (of which I have made many), but slouchier. I only bought a quarter meter of each, figuring that’d be plenty to patchwork into something small and cute. Of course I ran into the Reversible Bag after that and loved it. What’s not to love? It’s got the simplest possible construction and all kinds of understated style with that lovely rounded bottom.

Reversible Tote Detail

Construction was basically as you’d expect, patchworking the Dolce fabrics into one side, cutting the other from an Amy Butler Love print that somehow worked very nicely with the others. The only thing worth noting about my method was that I had a very particular sense of what I wanted it to feel like. It had to be slouchy like a tote, but squishy for some reason, and sturdy enough to feel substantial. The squishy was easily achieved with a layer of ordinary quilt batting, stitched to the patchwork side. Rather than interfacing which can make things kind of crunchy, I added a fourth layer of Ikea cotton canvas. I have a stash of bargain bin Ikea fabrics that I’m not likely to ever use as a feature fabric but come in incredibly useful for this sort of thing. I read this as a tip somewhere – to use canvas instead of interfacing; I’ve never been able to track down where, but it’s been a winner for me several times.

Reversible Tote Slouchin'

This bag is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made – it’s the perfect size, extremely durable with so few seams, and infinitely customizable. I take it absolutely everywhere and it’s good for pretty much any occasion. I have a feeling there will be many more of these in my future.