multiple skills for optimized tools

This morning I had another post planned for today. During lunch I had an irresistible desire to improve a tool, so I did. It took less than a half hour at the sewing machine to transform a simple tote bag into one that’s much improved. It’s really why I am thankful for my diverse skill sets. I’m not an expert in sewing, but it’s very helpful that I know the basics. Yes, I like making things from start to finish, but to modify something so it works better for me? As I’ve mentioned before that’s what makes a useful tool into one that I love. Not everything requires modification, but I enjoy knowing that if I want to make something a little bit better, I can.

Anzula Tote bag, after modificationsAfter working for Anzula at one of the TNNA Trade Shows, I acquired this tote bag. It’s become the right size for toting current projects around the house and to schlep home my library holds. It’s nice and basic. While I love my Tom Bihn Swifts, right now I find this is easier to take everywhere. However, other bags have features I like and for the past few weeks I’ve wanted them in this bag. So I made the necessary changes. This version is not perfect but I love how straightforward it was for me to make it better.

I forgot to take in process photos.

Three changes I made to optimize this tote bag

Click on the image to see it full size.

Totebag with zipper sewn inOne – Add a zipper As a knitter I have an aversion to velcro. The zipper I installed isn’t the best choice but it’s working. We’ll soon be in foster kitten season, any closure is better than discovering I left an open bag on my desk.

Why? Kittens often decide to help themselves to yarn.

Using another tote bag to create an instant pocket!Two – Add a pocket For this bag, I added the internal pocket in a lazy way very efficient manner. I have several thin cotton bags that I use for many different things.

I sewed a small one to the back inside of the tote. The handles were kept accessible so that I can knot it closed if I want.

Bingo — instant pocket!

pins and reinforcement patchThree – Reinforcement While I haven’t yet gotten into the enamel pin thing, there are a few I like. Lysa gave me my Angry Feminist Knitting Club pin. I then found my Tricoteuses Sans Frontières pin and my Ravelry logo one (whoops it’s upside down).

As there are also often many coil-less pins attached to the bag, I wanted to make sure I didn’t rip through. Reinforcement to the rescue–I cut a square from an old pair of jeans and attached it at the top. The various pins will keep it closer to the body of the bag.

I’m slow and late to this pin game thing. There are a few I confess I find fun, but I don’t know if I’ll actively add to the collection. (If you have a favourite designer of pins, please let me know!)




When I next sit to work on this bag I plan to place the pocket and reinforcement patch better inline with the zipper. I also hope to remember to sew in the zipper so it opens where I want, right now it’s reversed. This new zipper looks as if it could handle my impatience!

Do you modify tools to work better or to reflect your personality?

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