Madrid tote for the sewist

Ok so the verdict on my laptop is not good. After a few hours of diagnosis over the kitchen table it had been referred to a specialist, with a corrupted hard disk partition. I am devastated, naturally, but know it will be in good hands. I am crossing my fingers, toes and eyes for a speedy recovery.
But in the meantime I am not able to blog about any of my makes that need a photo of me wearing them, (from my camera) nor the makes I’ve already photographed, but that’s not the end of the world. I have a few ideas about how to get around that and spread some sewing delights.
Like today’s. I made the Madrid tote from Colette Patterns’ online magazine, issue 1 last weekend.

I had some proper oilcloth ( not the cheap PVC that I was taken in by last time ) bought from a local shop – it’s Vintage Happy by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet and it is covered with, yes, vintage snippets from dressmaking catalogues. It’s a fascinating read! Garment descriptions, gorgeous line drawings of day dresses, the shape of a paper pattern as well as the lady drawn in her foundation garment glory. I have lots left too, so am thinking about making a set, maybe make up bag, travel set….
Anyway, onto the tote. Supplies. I bought some ready made handles which are made by Prym and seem to be available from a lot of online stockists. And if they sell bag handles the likelihood is that they will also sell the magnetic clasp too. And that’s all the hardware that I bought in. I bought from Jaycotts, but Minerva also sells all sorts of bagmaking stuff too. My lining was a stash find- Some left over gingham that was so off grain I am too embarrassed to show much of the off non pattern matched seams.

The Madrid is one of the patterns included with Seamwork if you pay the subscription, but all of the articles, as you probably already know, are freely available online, and in issue 1 there are articles to help you get your head around sewing bags- with extensive tips around bag hardware and sewing leather ( or similar ) for example. I found it really helpful as I have never sewn leather nor have I ever used hardware in bag making and it’s quite daunting, isn’t it? So with a reputation for demystifying techniques that could be perceived as complex, I knew I was in safe hands and not risking too much, by following Colette Patterns’ Madrid bag pattern and attempting a few firsts:
– using a magnetic clasp
– successfully sewing oilcloth
– using ready made bag handles

And there, look, magnetic clasp and bag handles

So as you’d expect the pattern consists of different sized rectangles, and you can use contrasting fabric for the top part and bottom. As I had such fab oilcloth I didn’t want to break up the design so went for the even easier approach and used the lining pattern to cut my outer bag pieces too. I also cut two interior pockets, knowing that a big tote is a cave of abandon when keys / phone / a pen/ purse are required to be found.

I cut the strap that comes over the top so that one of the fancy ladies in her day dress would be centred.


Isn’t she lovely ?

The patterns with Seamwork are also all put together with the premise that they are quick makes and relatively easy sews. I made mine using a couple of hours on a Sunday. It is straightforward. I was prepared to deploy countermeasures for sewing my oilcloth, should my foot stick, but surprisingly I had no problem on that front.


I was careful using pins, but did use pins ( minimally) along the stitching line.
The bag handles are sewn on by hand and this was easily the longest most time consuming step. The only word of caution I would offer on using the bag handles like this, is about where you attach them. They have a certain amount of bulk and you need to allow enough room for the top bag seam allowance as well as a little wriggle room to get your sewing machine foot through for top stitching. If you wanted a double line of topstitching just plan ahead with where you put your handles.

I did use my zip foot too, but with the layers of oilcloth and lining plus seam allowances, it did not like it that much.
So the bag ? A delight. I’ve used it for work on a non gym kit day and it fits all the usual crap without busting at the seams.


I got a few positive remarks ( everyone is used to seeing me with a beaten up old Berghaus rucksack!) and it also started a conversation about sewing, which has to be an excellent thing?

Here it is stuffed to the gunnels. So now I know my ay around Madrid, maybe there’ll be another ….. Has anyone else enjoyed Madrid-making or even exploring Valencia? (the extra clutch bag pattern in issue 1)

19 thoughts on “Madrid tote for the sewist

  1. Sarah

    Fabulous print for the bag and I love the red tape measure print I can see inside too, do you remember where that came from by any chance?

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thank you! The red tapemeasure is actually an inspired gift from a few years back – it’s a pencil case (or makeup bag) made from zig-zag stitched together tape measures that I was given, so it’s not even a ready made fabric! BUT you could do it yourself with enough of your own tapemeasures!!!

      1. Sarah

        What a lovely gift and a wonderful idea of creating the tape measure fabric – I will bear it in mind and possibly steal it at some point. Thanks for letting me know

  2. Amber

    So great to see someone else’s Madrid results. I made up the Madrid as a Christmas gift for my Mother in Law. Corduroy bottom, canvas top and airy lining and pocket. It was just as quick and straight forward as you say. And I ran into similar issues with topstitching around the handles. I also made up the Oslo cardigan. Have you tried it yet? It’s certainly not in the style of your usual cardigans, but it was another fun, quick sew. And the result is oh so cozy!

  3. Liz

    This is a really nice way to use such a great print – but what is a “panty dress” (bottom of third photo)?? Is there a line drawing?

  4. Rachel

    Spot on! I had to laugh, ruefully, at “fits all the usual crap”. Because that definitely is the key requirement with a bag. So infuriating when one overflows! ☺

  5. EmSewCrazy

    Don’t you love it when you get all worked up to do this hard technique and your sewing machine breezes right through it. That is super fun fabric and a great bag.

  6. Alessa

    It looks great – I’m so much in love with that vintage sewing print! Also, how fun to get a look into your handbag. 🙂 I like your thermos. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Adventures in pleather - the Madrid Tote - Scruffy Badger Time

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