Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Super Tote Pattern Review

No doubt you have seen this bag plenty of times already, since I am a little late to the game.  There is a reason why it is so popular.  The Super Tote by Anna Graham of Noodlehead is easy to follow and produces a functional, giftable, unique structured bag.  I will absolutely make it again (and again and again).

QAYG Super Tote Side 

When I purchased my pattern about a month ago, all I knew was that I wanted to make this bag to carry around quilt market and festival.  I had not given any thought to fabrics or techniques, I just wanted to make the bag.  After reading through the pattern a few times, I eventually became overwhelmed with the task of picking fabric.  Does this happen to you as well?  I shelved the project for a few weeks.

 super tote qayg pocket panel

One night it came to me, as things usually do, while I lay in bed thinking.  Quilt as you go!  I could use lots of fabrics.  I did not have to decide which fabric to feature as a main print, I could use them all.  I did some fussy cutting and lots of scrap diving to round out this patchwork of awesomeness for the front pocket.  I added the embroidered "THINGS + stuff" using my own handwriting and a water soluble pencil.

QAYG Super Tote Back

I quilted the back in an uneven herringbone pattern, inspired by one of my favorite prints: Joel Dewberry's Herringbone from Modern Meadow.  I first quilted the three sets of vertical lines, evenly spaced across the panel.  Then I used the 45 degree line on my ruler and some washi tape to mark about five diagonal lines at varying widths down each section to use as guides.  Some lines were made by lining up the edge of my walking foot with the washi tape or previous quilted line, some are just eyeballed. 

QAYG Super Tote Slip Pocket

I lined the bag in a bright blue Kona (possibly Caribbean?).  I omitted the pockets from the pattern since I do not usually use pockets like that.  I did add a slip pocket to hold my phone.

QAYG Super Tote Recessed Zipper

I knew I wanted to use this yarn dyed Essex Linen, but I did not want to use my whole piece on the lining.  Instead, I just made the recessed zipper and the top part of the lining from it.  I had to do a little math and piecing to make the gusset lining match.  I used a metal zipper, which I think really makes the bag look sharp.

Finally, here are some of my notes, in case they will be helpful for you.

- For the outer main pocket, I used a quilt as you go method.  Layers are quilter's cotton/linen blends (the patchwork), batting, and then cotton duck.  The whole piece was zigzagged around the perimeter and is also interfaced with SF101.  Some of the fabrics I used are Melody Miller Ruby Star Sparkle (the phone), various Echino prints, and some scraps of AMH, Joel Dewberry, Lotta Jansdotter, and Lizzy House.

- For the outer back exterior panel, I used Essex Linen Blend (not yarn dyed) in Natural, and quilted it with the same layers/interfacing as the main pocket.

- For the front main exterior panel, which is not visible under the main pocket, I simply basted on some cotton duck, and fused on Craft Fuse (808) and SF101.  No quilting.

Digital Pattern notes:  I purchased my digital pattern in PDF form from Noodlehead.  It was $8.00.  A fantastic price, especially because I know I will make more.  The pattern is 21 total pages.  The first two are full color, the rest are fine to print in greyscale.  I printed pages 10 through 21 (12 pages) for the pattern pieces only and read the rest in PDF form on my laptop.  There are a lot of pattern pieces and you have cut multiples from each piece.  It got a little overwhelming for me, but in the end it was worth it.  If you pay really close attention, some of the pieces do not need to be printed and cut out, because they are rectangular and have the measurements noted on the piece.

- Definitely use the magnetic snap for the pocket (especially if you plan to quilt that part).  After a few days of use, I am most annoyed by the fact that when the bag is full of stuff, the pocket WILL bow out.

- On the straps, definitely use more interfacing and/or batting for the straps if you do not plan to use a heavy fabric.  I used linen blends and only the recommended SF101 (one layer).  As a result, my straps are pretty flimsy, and I wish I would have used more interfacing.  I also cut my straps 2 inches shorter, just because I wanted to use a certain fabric and did not have quite enough.  It worked out fine, the straps are still a good length for me.

- Time.  This project took me about 3 days, to accommodate for the quilting, and the fact that I had a preschooler running around the entire time.  I think it is entirely possible to finish in one day if you are not quilting it and do not have distractions, or two days if you need a break.

Again, I most definitely recommend this pattern.  Even if you only use it one time, it is absolutely worth the price and the time and fabric investment.  You will not be sorry!


  1. Great review Kristan! I made this pattern as well and am very happy with the result, however I did too much QAYG and too many heavy fabrics and doing the final steps were really really tedious. It did not come together easily at all. I think I'd do less next time I make it. Mine could stand up on its own in a wind storm!!

  2. What a nice review. I like your idea to QAYG. I hadn't noticed the gusset on the side of that bag before. That's a great structural touch. Was the recessed zipper easy or was it a bit fiddly?

  3. lovely! have fun toting it around quilt market and festival! Ill be in town next weekend for the festival so maybe Ill spot you sporting it!

  4. Your Super Tote looks amazing, and I loved your review of the pattern. I have been thinking about getting this pattern for a while now, and I think I might have to get it :)

  5. Thank you so much for your review. Your tote has turned out phantastic! And it encourages me to start on one too - I was still a little undecided up to now. Thanks for sharing and greetings from Claudia in Germany

  6. I love the details you give about your items. It is so helpful when others go to try the same pattern. But I have made two of these and I am dying to know, HOW did you topstitch through all those layers at the very end?? That was the only step that really gave me trouble, and I didn't use the 808, I just used 101 + duck.

  7. Great post, you have pointed out some fantastic points , I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. Dslr camera price in pakistan


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