Happiness is Homemade Tote Bag

By Melissa LeRay

Ohhowsweet.com Sewing Illustration Totebag

Welcome to my stop on the #sewillustrated blog tour!  The book Sew Illustrated is the unbelievably gorgeous collaboration between my dear friends Minki Kim and Kristin Esser.  For as long as I’ve been on Instagram I have admired Minki’s work and loved watching as her talent for sewing illustration grew more and more.  I was over the moon to learn that she and Kristin were writing a book and hoped that this would help me to add that charm to my own work!

I think there are so many new sewing books coming out lately, and though many of them are undeniably beautiful, rarely does it feel like we are seeing something NEW.  This book has so many new techniques, and I love that they’ve taken the time to really show us how to do it, step by step.

Sew Illustrated

For my project, I decided to combine two of the patterns in the book (The Long Handled (Libary) Bag and “Happiness is Homemade” from The Drawstring bag) and I am completely smitten with the final result.  IN LOVE.  This may be my most favorite make ever, and its all mine.  As I saw how this was evolving, I knew some of my favorite Liberty of London would be the perfect compliment.   {The Liberty is Claire Aude T, and the linen is Kaufman Wide Essex in Flax}

I took pics along the way of the entire process; I thought it would be fun to share it here…

Step one was printing the design onto Fabri-Solvy, a product that has revolutionized embroidery (I don’t say that lightly!)  It lets you print out designs onto water-soluble adhesive ::: this means no more tracing!  Then I began to fill in all the letters.

ohhowsweet.com sew illustrated tote bag

Once that was done, I washed off the fabri-solvy, and let it air dry:

Ohhowsweet.com Sew Illustrated Totebag

Already looking pretty cute!  Next I created a patch with rounded edges, and sewed it down, adding a little tag flair.

Ohhowsweet.com Sew Illustrated Totebag

Once that was done I added some hand-stitching around the patch’s edge, using my machine stitching line as a guide:

Ohhowsweet.com Sew Illustrated Totebag

And finally, all sewn together!  I am so in love with this bag!

Ohhowsweet.com Sew Illustrated Totebag

I can’t get over how much charm and character the sewing illustration added to this bag!  I love abandoning the perfect, and embracing the perfectly imperfect feel of it – what a breath of fresh air to feel that its not possible to make a mistake!

Be sure to catch the rest of the blog tour! Below is the full schedule, and also be sure to check out the #sewillustrated and #sewingillustration hashtags on Instagram!

August 15: C&T Publications
August 16: Amy at nanaCompany
August 17: Wynn at zakkaArt
August 18: Sedef at Down Grapevine Lane
August 19: Lisa at A Spoonful of Sugar
August 20: Amy at chick chick sewing
August 21: Stacy at Stacy Olson
August 22: Debbie happy little cottage
August 23: Generation Q Magazine
August 24: Faith at Sarana Ave
August 25: Ayda at  cafenohut
August 26: Melissa at Oh, how sweet
August 27: Jemima at Tied with a Ribbon
August 28: Veronica at Vivid Felicity
August 29: Sharon at Lilabelle Lane Creations
August 30: Nadra at ellis & higgs
August 31: Kristyne at pretty by hand
September 1: Elnora on Instagram
September 2: Jennie at Clover and Violet
September 3: Auribuzz
September 4: Minki at Minki’s Work Table and Kristin at They Grow Up Too Fast

Sew Illustrated blog tour banner


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42 Comments on Happiness is Homemade Tote Bag

  1. LJ
    August 26, 2016 at 7:29 am (1 year ago)

    “Charm and character”…that was perfect; I totally agree. I love Fabri-Solvy and you used it perfectly. Great bag!

  2. apple blossom
    August 26, 2016 at 7:39 am (1 year ago)

    lovely tote bag. nice and sweet

  3. Kathleen
    August 26, 2016 at 7:45 am (1 year ago)


  4. Rosemary B
    August 26, 2016 at 8:27 am (1 year ago)

    This is such a sweet bag. I love it. The fabric is perfect for this

  5. patty
    August 26, 2016 at 8:33 am (1 year ago)

    Cute bag!

  6. Elise
    August 26, 2016 at 11:08 am (1 year ago)

    That is just the prettiest library tote! I need to make one now! Love how you added the patch! Perfection!!

  7. Cecilia
    August 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm (1 year ago)

    Pretty! Thanks for sharing your charming bag.

  8. Anne
    August 26, 2016 at 1:35 pm (1 year ago)

    Nice bag.

  9. Laurie Gelo
    August 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm (1 year ago)

    Very cool. I’m going to need to find some of that Fabri-Solvy and give it a try. Thanks for the tip. And sharing your wonderful tag.

  10. Mandi Kalf
    August 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm (1 year ago)

    Wow what a great bag! I love all the little details you added:)

  11. Denise
    August 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm (1 year ago)

    Love the tote you chose to make. I’m looking forward to getting this book!

  12. Kristy
    August 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm (1 year ago)

    Beautiful tote! Thanks for the tutorial!

  13. Michele
    August 26, 2016 at 7:48 pm (1 year ago)

    I love this bag!!! Beautiful fabrics!!

  14. Laura P in NH
    August 26, 2016 at 7:50 pm (1 year ago)

    I love your tote ~ sew cute.

  15. Kathy E.
    August 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm (1 year ago)

    “Abandoning the perfect”….what a statement! I want to make that my mantra and start making some of these projects too! Your new tote bag is “perfect” and I hope you’ll always love it!

  16. Milla
    August 26, 2016 at 9:53 pm (1 year ago)

    Beautiful bag!! Love all the special touches you made!

  17. Chris
    August 27, 2016 at 12:42 am (1 year ago)

    Like the embroidery a lot. Nice touch.

  18. Indianna
    August 27, 2016 at 3:15 am (1 year ago)

    Beautiful bag. I love the idea of fabric solvy as it works perfectly for the lettering.

  19. Becky T
    August 27, 2016 at 9:20 am (1 year ago)

    Love the use of fabric and thread in this book of projects. gives me ideas to do some of my own with traditional embroidery patterns. Just what I need more ideas

  20. Donna
    August 27, 2016 at 10:01 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for sharing about fabric solvy must Ho find some. Such a fun bag.

  21. Sharon
    August 28, 2016 at 6:49 am (1 year ago)

    Such a sweet label

  22. Carla Hundley
    August 28, 2016 at 11:14 am (1 year ago)

    Fabulous work on
    your bag! Love the
    lace trim and the
    Carla from Utah

  23. MoeWest
    August 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm (1 year ago)

    I love your bag!

  24. Mara
    August 28, 2016 at 4:26 pm (1 year ago)

    Love it, must get some fabri solvy

  25. Hueisei
    August 29, 2016 at 5:01 am (1 year ago)

    Very lovely tote bag. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Monica
    August 29, 2016 at 5:55 am (1 year ago)

    What a lovely bag.

  27. Christine
    August 29, 2016 at 6:18 am (1 year ago)

    It looks like a ton of potential in this book!

  28. Claudia M
    August 29, 2016 at 11:22 am (1 year ago)

    I have to make this!!!

  29. Rachel H.
    August 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm (1 year ago)

    I can’t believe those words are stitched! I thought they were printed – such a cute bag! :)

  30. Beth
    August 29, 2016 at 9:55 pm (1 year ago)

    Wow, really cool. I like this project!

  31. Martina
    August 30, 2016 at 10:03 am (1 year ago)

    Oh such a great way to do it! Love how it turned out, just beautiful!

  32. Mary Z
    August 30, 2016 at 1:14 pm (1 year ago)

    Your bag is so pretty-I love it!

  33. elena
    August 30, 2016 at 4:14 pm (1 year ago)

    lovely tote!!!

  34. Hannah
    August 30, 2016 at 11:52 pm (1 year ago)

    Thanks for showing the pictures of your process. Amazing. The results are unbelievable and the bag just perfect.

  35. Mariana
    August 31, 2016 at 8:51 am (1 year ago)

    This is so sweet Melissa!!!!

  36. Dani
    September 1, 2016 at 3:11 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you for taking us step by step. Your bag turned out adorable and is so inspiring! I definitely want this book to try out all the cute ideas.

  37. usairdoll
    September 1, 2016 at 5:06 am (1 year ago)

    Your bag is darling! Love seeing all the beautiful items on the hop.


  38. Banu
    October 25, 2017 at 4:43 pm (4 months ago)

    Beautiful bag! I love it <3
    I wonder about your sewing machine..
    What model is your Bernina ?

    • Melissa LeRay
      January 28, 2018 at 2:53 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Hi Banu, it is a Bernina 580 :)


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