I am so excited to share a free new sewing pattern today! It's been quiet over here lately, but I've been hard at work behind the scenes with several new patterns. (Have you seen my latest Kinley Pouch pattern??) If you aren't signed up for my email list, sign up and get the first access to my new patterns!
Ok, on to the free pattern: the Indigo Skies Tote. This project uses some techniques I shared in a recent blog post of one of my favorite ways to alter fabric - by using deColourant! More info is in that post - but essentially, deColourant works by removing dye from fabric when it is heat activated (by ironing or by the sun). It's unlike bleach in that it does not affect the strength and integrity of the fibers, as bleach does. This technique is used a lot in the book I wrote with Sarah Case, Transfer Embellish Stitch.
This tote project can be made with any variation of quilting cotton fabrics, I chose to use deColourant to modify Riley Blake Confetti Cotton solids because I love putting my own spin on fabrics to create a totally new look. I had never used the Confetti Cottons before, and after seeing the beautiful range of colors they offer, and using the cottons to create this project, I'm hooked. It's a gorgeous solid basic, has a beautiful hand, and sews up so nicely.
I chose a range of three shades of blue - Cadet, Cornflower, and Deep Water. These colors are close enough but different enough to create the handmade, hand dyed fabric look that I wanted to emulate. I was inspired by the Japanese shibori method of dyeing fabric. If you haven't hear of shibori before, hop over to Pinterest for a rabbit hole of amazing fabrics created with this beautiful dyeing technique traditionally done with indigo dye.
Using deColourant instead of indigo dye for this project gives the fabrics the hand made, personalized quality that I want, but it's fast and easy and I can guarantee that once you hop on the deColourant train, you won't want to hop off.
First, before I committed to these colors, I made sure to snip off a piece of the fabric to test how it reacted to the deColourant. This is a must-do before you embark on a big project -- sometimes you end up with unexpected results! In the end, I decided to forego the teal color, I didn't think it lended itself to the indigo look I was aiming for.
I also selected the Charcoal color for a nice dark contrasting bottom fabric. After looking at the blues and the charcoal together, I felt that something was missing -- so at the last minute I decided to add a contrasting trim piece to the bag (the color is Burgundy), and I think it really accents the bag nicely.
I know there are tons of amazing tote bag patterns out there, so I wanted to add a little secret surprise to this one! That exterior patchwork cleverly conceals a handy pocket! I made my pocket lining match the contrast trim -- and I decided to coordinate my thread to the trim fabric as well. That pocket is totally sneaky, right??
I went a little over-achiever on this project and decided to add some pattern to the lining fabric (the color is Ash) with the deColourant as well. It's a nice touch to an otherwise plain lining -- and if you read my other post about deColourant, you know that you can reuse the freezer paper stencils a couple times before tossing them, so I was able to simply reuse the stencil I had already created for the patchwork pieces on my lining fabric.
The straps are made with one of the same blue fabrics that make up the patchwork squares, but I think they would look great coordinated with the contrast bottom fabric too. I decided to do an additional row of center stitching on these handles -- it adds a little bit of color and texture, and makes the straps feel more substantial.
I hope you are inspired to make your own version of the Indigo Skies Tote! Don't forget to tag me if you post your project on Instagram (@jenfoxstudios) or Facebook, and use the hashtag #indigoskiestote.