Ethel Tote Bag from Swoon Sewing Patterns

Do you Swoon?  (As in, do you love sewing the handbag patterns designed by Alicia of Swoon Sewing Patterns?)  I do!  Ethel is free tote bag pattern from Swoon and a great way to try out a pattern from Swoon, if you haven't already. (Swoon has several free patterns here)
*this post contains my affiliate links for Swoon.  I received this pattern for free - because everyone can!  If you use my links and make a purchase, I will receive a portion of the sale.  If making money were a motive for this post, I would not be reviewing a free pattern (ha!).  UPDATE Sept 2015 - Alicia at Swoon has updated the Ethel pattern since I sewed this version.  The newer version features a higher pocket, new diagrams, and different interfacing (with the introduction of Pellon's new Flex Foam)  You can see her post about the new Ethel here.

Sewing Ethel is not difficult.  I would not say handbags are my forte, but I've made a few other Swoon bags (but just realized I never blogged about any of them!  You can spot a picture of one of my Glendas in the collage in this post).  I think Alicia does a great job making the illustrations and instructions clear to follow.  The only modifications I made for this bag were to lengthen the shoulder straps a few inches and sew the lining with a larger seam allowance.  The lining and main fabric are cut from the same pattern pieces, so I find that it helps to keep the lining from bunching up inside if I use a larger seam allowance when sewing those pieces.  I forgot to do this for the bottom, and I got a ripple which I am not proud of (and a blurry picture of it, too).

The Ethel tote from Swoon is designed with a front slot pocket, an interior zip pocket, and an interior slot pocket; but, you can easily add, modify or remove pockets to suit your own vision for the bag.  I sewed a divison in the interior pocket, to hold smaller items in place better, such as a cell phone or pens.

This particular Ethel tote was a thank you gift.  The recipient's daughter helped me pick out fabric she thought her mom would like and after I sewed the bag, I stuffed it with snacks and little gifts.  I was really impressed with how much the bag held.

The free Ethel Tote bag pattern is designed to be made from quilting cotton, but I used home decorator fabric and still used the interfacing and fusible fleece that the pattern calls for.  The finished bag is very sturdy.  When I cut this bag, I cut three others, which are now in my UFO pile.  I'm eager to finish those as well as a few other Swoon Sewing Pattern handbags I have on my to-do list.  Any guesses how long it will take me?  I cut them in February.  Interfaced them in May, I think.  Am I the only one who does that?!

You can read more about Alicia from Swoon in my interview with her and you can join the Swoon Sewing Patterns Facebook group to share ideas and tips.

1 comment

  1. I was the recipient of this lovely tote!!! It is so pretty and so sturdy. I love the way it holds its shape and protects what is inside. I use it to carry smaller books, snacks, an extra T-shirt, notepad, drink... those extra things I might need for the day. It fits nicely over my shoulder so it is easy to carry when my hands are full of other items. The zipper pocket is great for those smaller items you want to keep easy to find. It makes a great gift!


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