At CHA this winter, Clover USA had a ton of exciting new products, but Nancy’s Hobo Tote Collection Trace ‘n Create Bag Template was definitely one of my favorites.
For me, working on this review couldn’t have come at a better time. My current handbags were all starting to look pretty rough, and I really wasn’t looking forward to the nightmare that is purse shopping. So, making my own custom bag with the fabric of my choice was the perfect alternative!
According to the Clover USA website:
Showcase fabrics from a fat quarter collection, or a single sensational print, in this easy new tote. —Nancy Zieman
Roomy Tote Size
18″ x 5″ x 16″
457mm x 127mm x 406mm
Retail price: $19.95
What I loved:
1. The two templates are made with a heavy, yet slightly flexible plastic. They felt solid and were easier to work with than a paper pattern.
2. The instructions contain step-by-step directions and illustrations to keep you on track.
3. The seam allowances are included in the template, so you can just cut and go with no extra measuring required.
4. The template didn’t cut easily when I made little slips while cutting around it with a rotary cutter. (Technically, you’re supposed to trace the template, not cut around it. But, since I’m not new to pattern cutting, I broke the rules a little bit for the sake of the review. I’m guessing that this is a shortcut that many of you might take too.)
5. If you’re into following the trace-then-cut rules, the templates are thick enough to get a good, clean line without the chalk pencil jumping.
6. Once sewn together, one side panel from the bag is used as the pattern for the lining. I liked this, because you can be sure that, no matter how much fudging of the seam allowances you might have done, your lining will still line up with the rest of the bag.
7. If you’re new to bag making, the instruction for placing trim over the seams at the center of each side of the bag is great for disguising minor hemming mistakes and adjustments.
8. The pattern template has stitch lines, notches, and holes built in for easy tracing and perfect fabric marking.
9. The pattern includes inside pockets on each side of the lining to help keep smaller items organized. (Each pocket is separated into three sections.)
10. The finished bag feels sturdy, and, at 16″ in length, it’s definitely roomy enough to take on my afternoon errands. (It’s actually a lot larger than I’d initially pictured.)
What I didn’t love:
1. The plastic template moved a bit when I cut or traced. (But, frankly, not nearly as much as I thought it would.)
Tip: If you’re working with slippery fabric, anchor the fabric with pattern weights, then use a couple of small pieces of scotch tape to hold the template in place while you trace or cut.
2. In the fabric cutting section of the instructions, it would have been helpful if there had been a summary of how many pieces of each pattern should be cut out of each type of fabric.
3. The ¼” seam allowances seem a little too narrow for bag seams. I think ½” would have been safer in case the fabric frayed a bit or moved while being stitched.
What you should know before getting started:
- This isn’t a beginner project. While the skills are pretty basic, the bag construction requires precise stitching and dealing with a relatively narrow seam allowance. The detail work might overwhelm someone new to sewing, but it’s great for more experienced sewers.
- In addition to fabric, there are quite a few specialty notions that you’ll need if you want to follow the instructions to the letter. These include grosgrain ribbon, Clover Create-a-Strap strap interfacing, a Clover Bias Tape Maker, tote hardware D-rings, magnetic snaps, bag feet, and Clover Shape’n Create bag and tote stabilizer.
- It’s easy to customize this project by changing a few small details. In my bag, I used bias tape instead of fabric for the trim and used webbing stitched right into the top seams of the bag to make my handles instead of installing D-rings to hold fabric handles. I also added an elastic key leash so my keys won’t get lost in the bottom of my bag.
The templates were easy to use, worked exactly as the directions described, and the bag I made is sturdy and attractive. To me, the $19.95 price tag seems a bit on the expensive side for two plastic patterns and an instruction book, but I can certainly confirm that the directions are complete, the results are consistent, and the finished bag is really cute. (Plus, the templates are reusable, so you can make as many bags as you want.) All in all, I’m really happy with my new hobo tote, so I would definitely recommend Nancy’s Hobo Tote Collection Trace ‘n Create Bag Templates to sewers looking for a solid—though a little bit pricey—handbag pattern.
Disclosure: Samples provided for review, but my opinions are honest and my own!