It took a few months, but I finally finished my quilted tote bag from Galloping Pony Studio. I love her miniature quilt designs, and although I am sewing machine challenged, I decided to try to make her tote bag pattern. I started by trying to track down the linen burlap, and lucked out, finding it at Hobby Lobby on close out. Then I had to pull out the strands and weave in some black crochet cotton to make the stripes on the bag. The idea was to make it look like an antique 19th century grain sack. Willow Decor has a good post on decorating with the real thing. I especially love the one they have that's decorated with a horse.
Then to hand cut the stencils. This was a pretty intricate design with not much room for error. Stenciling is something I had not done before, and I was a little nervous to try it out on the burlap after all that work weaving the threads, but to my surprise, I thought it turned out looking great for a first try.
I hand pieced the little quilt for the pocket, sewed that on the front, and then decorated the back with buttons, antique Mother-of-Pearl buckles, and an optical lense with one of my favorite old photos glued onto it.
Then it was time to assemble the tote. I had to email Virginia at Galloping Pony a few times with questions, and she couldn't have been more helpful. This was not because the pattern wasn't well written, but because I wasn't familiar with how to do some things on the machine, and she was very patient with me. I had a little trouble with the zipper being wavy, and had to ask around. Finally someone told me to baste it first, and that made a big difference. I made a minor change with the pattern, in that I made two handles instead of the one she had. I like my bags to open up really wide. I'm really happy with it, I learned a lot of new skills, and I think it looks pretty good if you don't look too closely at the machine stitching. :)