Sarah's Redwood Tote

Sarah's Redwood Tote

I have been cautiously eyeing up the Noodlehead bag patterns in the Jenny Stitches shop for some time now, and finally decided to take the plunge!

There were two things that initially intimidated me when it came to attempting bag-making. Firstly, and most obviously, it is a new skill and those can always be a bit scary. Also, the list of fabric and notions on each pattern is so long that I couldn't face sourcing everything.

Fortunately, Jenny has a whole section on the Haberdashery section of her website which focuses solely on bag making supplies, which made everything much easier and meant that I could just focus on selecting my fabric and pattern for the project, with the extra notions all handily listed in one place.

I had never previously worked with a Noodlehead pattern, but had admired them on Instagram. They are a US-based company specialising in patterns for bags of all shapes and sizes. I wanted a pattern that would challenge me in a few small ways, but not so much that it would put this cautious beginner off, and ended up selecting the Redwood Tote.

The Redwood Tote is a mid-sized tote bag with zip closure, zip and slip pockets on the exterior, pockets within the lining and a reinforced base. It also has both short handles, and a long cross body strap.

The patterns work in a slightly different way to your average garment pattern, in that there are no pattern pieces. Instead, you are given a list of dimensions to measure and cut out. They also provide you with a sheet of label pieces to help you to identify each piece throughout the process. You definitely should not skip this step, as ultimately you end up with loads of rectangles and it could quickly descend in to chaos!

The pattern itself was really clear, and honestly I couldn't believe how quickly it came together in the end. I have only sewn a normal zip once, and that was in a garment on a beginner course, and went terribly! I have sewn invisible zips several times, but was worried about this part of the construction process. However, the steps were explained really clearly, and not only were the zips installed, but they had a neat finish too. Result!

In terms of fabric, I selected a beautiful large scale William Morris style print on cotton canvas for the main fabric, with lilac lining fabric and matching webbing for the straps. The pattern also includes guides to cut out your fabric for the straps, but I prefer the look of the webbing and it is really simple to use. You just need to check that the width of your webbing will fit through the metal strap slider and snap hooks. (The width of each item is listed on the website).

The fabric and notions were all perfect! The only slight challenge was that due to the large scale of the print on the exterior fabric, I had to print match, which I am known to avoid in most cases! It was a bit of a head-scratcher, but I did work it out in the end. You may notice that on the panels either side of the zip pocket on one side of the bag, there is an extra seam continuing from the zip. This is the only adjustment that I made, as I wanted the print on the side panels to match with that on the centre panel. To do this, I sliced the side panels in line with the zip, worked out the amount of length to take out in order for the top sections to match, and sewed them back together. I was a bit nervous at the time but am really pleased with how it turned out.

Overall I very much enjoyed my first bag-making experience. I am already eyeing up a couple of their backpack patterns for my next attempt. After all, with a wardrobe of me made outfits to wear, who doesn't want a selection of bags to match?

Inspired to make your own version?
Here's what you will need:

Pattern : Redwood Tote by Noodlehead

All bag hardware and notions are available in the bag making section of the website - check them out here

Fabric : Cherry Thief Cotton Canvas

Lining : Cotton Poplin in shade Iris

[Disclosure: Sarah was provided with the materials for her project free of charge and received a gift voucher in recognition of the time spent on her project.]

Back to blog


Love the bag. You’ve inspired me to give one a try :-)


What a lovely bag and made up in a beautiful fabric. The pattern matching is amazing. Fabulous make Sarah.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.