This summer i went to Portland OR, and went on a bit of a vegan vacation – not that Vancouver BC isn’t already something of a vegan haven, but Portland is lousy with amazing vegan spots. One of those spots is Herbivore Clothing, part of the Vegan Mini Mall. I got a few things while i was there – little stuff mainly, but i also got this tote bag which i used for the rest of the trip as a day bag. As soon as i got it i knew that i’d be modifying it when i got home. Modifying a tote bag so that it suits you is easy and rewarding.
In this case, the medium sized bag started with two small, lightweight handles, and i prefer one study strap that will let me wear it cross-body. I also wanted to add a lining to the bag to give it a bit more form and fun – when i saw this fabric on Spool of Thread’s Instagram i knew that i’d found my lining! It helps remind me of the spirit of adventure i was feeling when i got the bag.
Anyway, the Cow Hugger tote was made a little strangely in the first place – serged up the side seams after the top was double-fold hemmed. Not a big deal, but it meant that when i ripped the hem to tuck in the new lining i the serged side seam was going to come apart a little messily. To compensate, i put a couple of horizontal stay-stitches across the surged side-seam just below the hem to ensure it didn’t unravel further than intended as i was working. It also meant that after i had sewn in the lining and re-hemmed the top lip, there was a slight mess along these seams, which naturally dictated the placement of the new heavy strap (which is really just an old wide cotton belt with a poly core).
Modifying a tote bag: The Sewing is Simple.
To make the lining just make a fabric box with seems on three sides that is about two mm shy of the external dimensions of the bag with right sides together and seams on the left, right, and bottom. Don’t finish the top with a hem it will just be tucked into the hem of the outer fabric. Sewing the strap on takes a bit of patience – it’s a lot of fabric to sew through (if you’re having trouble try a denim needle which will cut through the layers more easily). Sew a two-inch box of tight stitches (reinforced in all corners) with an X through it to secure the strap.
I think before i call it done i’ll add a bit of cord inside the top hem give the bag’s mouth even a bit more shape. All-in-all, I can completely recommend modifying a tote bag if you find one that is perfect for you in some respect but not in others.