Friday, October 3, 2014

Sewing Pattern Review: The Senna Tote Bag

Today, for my first sewing pattern review ever, I'm reviewing one of my favorite bag patterns, ever.  The Senna Tote by Vanessa of LBG Studio, for Willow & Co. Pattern Collective is a very versatile, zip-top tote bag.  It has two exterior pockets, and one large interior pocket that can be divided as you wish. 

As with most bag patterns that I purchase, I added a few elements, and chose different interfacings.  I'll summarize my materials and approach to the construction of the bag.


Feature Fabric: Arrows in Coral, Moonlit Collection by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton + Steel
Contrast Bottom:  Diversitex Polyester/Cotton Twill Navy
Lining:  Water Repellent Nylon from Frank's Bargain Center in Claremont, NH
Handles + Exterior Pocket Lining:  Roc-Lon #412 Natural Super Muslin
Hardware:  YKK #3 Nylon Coil Zipper*, 1.25" Gold-toned Metal Diecast Zinc Slides
Interfacing:  Pellon Thermolam Plus Sew-in, Pellon 50 Heavyweight Sew-in, Pellon 926 Extra-Firm Stabilizer, Warm & White Cotton Batting
*A note about the zipper:  The materials list calls for a 22 inch nylon coil zipper, which is then cut to 19.75 inches.  So really, you can get away with a 20 inch zipper (trimmed down), or simply make longer end tabs if you need to use a shorter zipper, or to allow use of a metal zipper.  The important thing is that the total length be 19.75" after attaching the end tabs.


I was more than pleased with the instructions and illustrations in this pattern.  The wording is clear; not confusing whatsoever.  There was never a point in the process that I was unsure of what to do.  The pattern pieces are easy to assemble, and there are cutting instructions for the rectangular pieces if you want to save paper.  The line drawings are BETTER than process photographs, in my opinion.  I was most nervous about the "corners" where the zipper end tabs meet the side seams, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it came together.  Vanessa has you sew "dot to dot" to attach the zipper, and it works out quite well as long as you follow her seam allowances.  I'm happy with the result.




The pattern calls for quilting cotton and some combinations of Pellon SF101 and canvas as interlining.  I like to add some softness to a bag when possible, so instead I used Pellon Thermolam Plus Sew-in for the entire body of the bag, and added Pellon 926 to the contrast bottom for structure. I used Pellon 50 to interline the exterior pockets sandwiched between my feature fabric and my favorite muslin, Roc-Lon #412 Super Muslin.  The back of the bag has a unique pocket that spans the entire width.  This would be perfect for file folders or larger items.


For the handles, I used Super Muslin and a single layer of Warm & White for some padding.  I also added tri-bar hardware for ome visual interest.


I kept the interior simple, using a water repellent nylon in anticipation of using this as a beach or pool bag someday.  I interlined the pocket again with Pellon 50, and divided it into equal thirds.  Lastly, I skipped the zipper topstitching.  I'm rarely pleased with how my zipper topstitching turns out, so I usually skip it unless I feel the bag looks bare without it.


Overall, I definitely recommend this pattern.  As I said above, the instructions and illustrations are clear, and the process is enjoyable.  The Senna Tote Bag Pattern is available from Willow & Co.  I am also offering this bag made to order in my Etsy Shop.

I've linked this post to the following (check out what others are making!):
Show Off Saturday @ SewCanShe
InspireUs Thursdays @ The Inspired Wren
Purse Palooza @ SewSweetness


  1. this is a gorgeous bag, I love your fabric - great job!!!

    1. Thank you! I'm looking forward to your Jet Pack review. What a unique design!

  2. Beautiful bag and great review! I really appreciate sharing what you used for interfacing.

    1. Thanks, Laura. I like to make many of my bags machine washable, so I try to avoid fusibles when possible. Pellon 926 doesn't get enough credit- it's wonderful for creating structure in a bag bottom, and I sometimes use a double layer to substitute for Peltex.

  3. yay!!! Vanessa will love this! Your bags are fabulous!