Summer Sewing: Poolside Tote!

or What I Did [before] my Summer Vacation

poolside tote

I’ve been wanting to make a Noodlehead Poolside Tote for a while now…and admiring all the cool versions online. So, with summer vacation plans including several trips to our cabin in the Sierras (read: swimming at the pool or lake every day), I knew it was the perfect time. I had an image in my mind of what I wanted my tote to look like and headed off to my favorite fabric store to search for blue stripes, yellow canvas, and something floral…

The ‘something floral’ was the toughest one to find – everything was either too floral or the wrong color – and I almost gave up and got a geometric print instead, but then I found this:

lining material

and I knew it was meant to be. Isn’t it satisfying when you find the perfect combination of fabrics and everything starts to come together just as you had envisioned it?

proud of my new tote

This tote took me quite a while to make (several weeks), working an hour or so at a time a couple evenings each week. It went something like this…print and assemble the pattern one night, two nights for cutting the pieces, another for fusing the interfacing, two nights for sewing.

This was my first real experience using interfacing, and while it wasn’t difficult, I wasn’t quite prepared for how it seemed to exponentially expand the cutting list …6 main pattern, 4 handles, 4 facings, …you get the idea. I skipped interfacing the handles and handle accent pieces since I was using canvas duck for those and I figured they would be thick enough without it. I’m glad I skipped it for the actual handles (they are plenty sturdy as is), but wish I had interfaced the handle accents because the blue chevron of the main bag shows through a bit on those (not sure that you can see that in these pictures as it’s pretty faint, but definitely there). Not really a big deal, but I would do it differently next time.

I did the zipper pocket option, with a nice cheery yellow zipper to go with the handle accent color.

inside the pocket

I even managed to cut my pocket piece so that the chevron pattern lined up nicely. That little bit of inverted pattern you see on the zipper binding piece (top of zipper) was actually on purpose, although it didn’t end up lining up perfectly. Oh well, close enough for me:)

zipper pocket

Here’s the inside:

facing and key ring

with a swivel clasp on red ribbon to hold my keys, and a bit of chambray from my scrap pile for the facing. The pattern calls for basting lines to use as pressing guides for both the handle accents and the facing, plus basting lines to gather in the curved edge of the facing when you press it down – genius! It worked beautifully.

And, of course, there is plenty of space to hold all my stuff for an afternoon at the pool.

filled tote

Next time I might also add an interior pocket because I love pockets.

I used my new poolside tote every day on vacation – kept it packed and ready for swimming so that we could jump in the water any time we felt like it…say, after a sweaty hike, or when we happened to drive by a nice looking beach:) Now that’s a successful sewing project! Not to mention a nice vacation.

tote and me

What are your summer sewing projects?

Pattern: Poolside Tote by Noodlehead


  • outer – home dec canvas
  • handles – canvas duck
  • lining – Robert Kaufman surf n’ sand tropicals
  • interfacing – Pellon SF101

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