Cotton & Linen Tote Bag Made for my Niece コットン&リネンでナチュラル系トートバッグ

I was asked by my dear blog reader recently whether I stopped sewing lately... as my previous posts were all about my crocheted stuff and no sewing... But oh no, I have not stopped sewing! How could I give up my love of sewing?!  
So I decided to post about my sewing project today :)  It's a cotton & linen tote bag with a small initial embroidery stitched for the recipient.
私のブログを読んでくださっている方から、最近は編み物を中心に作っているのですか?と聞かれました。 (いつも読んで下さってありがとうございます)。 確かに、ここのところはかぎ針編みの小物が続いてしまったので、今日は久しぶりにソーイングネタをご報告させてくださいね。

Actually, this was a requested item from my niece.  You can't imagine how super excited I was when my niece asked me to make her a handmade tote bag to celebrate her 14th birthday!
Although it took me a while to get started with this one... My niece's birthday is just a week before Christmas and my schedule is just too crazy during that time of the year... Sorry niece, for the belated birthday gift! 
こちらは姪っ子の14歳の誕生日プレゼント用に作ったトートバッグです。姪っ子から、プレゼントには(私の)手作りバッグが欲しい!と言われた時にはオバさんはとっても嬉しかったのですよ。 ただ、なかなか時間がとれなくてギフトのお届けはほぼ1ヶ月も遅れてしまったのですが・・・。ごめんね、姪っ子!
So far, I have five nieces and two nephews altogether. Unfortunately, we all live far away from each other so we don't get to see each other that much. This niece lives 7,200 miles (11,000 km) away from us (in Asia) and I'm trying to recall the last time we met... which was more than five years from now, I think.
When making this tote, my niece and I exchanged several lengthy emails to decide the size, shape, and the fabric of the tote, because I wanted to make something that my niece really likes.
 私には今のところ、5人の姪っ子と、2人の甥っ子がいます。 皆、遠く離れた地に暮らしているのでなかなか会うこともままなりません。この14歳になったばかりの姪っ子も我が家から11,000キロも離れた地(アジア圏です)に住んでいるのでなかなか会う機会がなく、もうかれこれ5年以上・・・も会っていないんです。

As you can tell, my niece has a very mature taste in fabric choices. Unlike most pre-teen and teenage girls that I know of (including our girls), she prefers natural linen over neon colored fabrics, and chic polka dots and gingham checks over flashy designs. I think my niece and I share a similar taste in fabric choices, which was a wonderful surprise!

So we selected this black/white gingham check fabric for the interior. I added several pockets for convenience.  Like all the bags I create, this bag can be used as reversible.
内布は黒x白のギンガムチェックで。 バッグはリバーシブルでも使用できます。 姪っ子の希望でポケットを多めに作りました。

Adding this pouch was my idea. I whipped up a matching zipper pouch/wristlet with a detachable strap for easy access.
学校用のトートバッグを希望していたので、携帯電話などが入るポーチをお揃いの布で作ってみました。 ポーチは取り外しが出来るタイプにしてみました。

I made sure that her iphone/ipod and other gadgets would fit inside the pouch. (The above image is shown with my iphone 5).
私のiphone 5がピッタリ収まるサイズになりました。

I made a bag shaper/base board to keep the tote bag in shape. I knew that my niece's plan was to use this tote bag for her school, so I wanted to make the bag sturdy enough to keep all her textbooks and belongings inside without losing its shape.
My niece doesn't know (yet) that the bag shaper/base board is made from the Pokemon monster chart that I found in our house! (lol)  I cut out this plastic chart sheet in half to fit the shape of bag bottom, and then clipped off four corners into round shape.
このバッグ底、家にあったポケモンの下敷き(我が家には男の子がいないので誰も見向きもしない新品のシロモノ)を使ったのです。 未使用の下敷きを縦半分に切って四隅を丸くカットして、2枚重ねて補強しました。
The two cut-out plastic sheets were taped together like this and covered securely inside the matching gingham check fabric (so that Pokemon monsters would not show!)

Of course, I wanted to add a special touch to my handmade gift for my niece, so I hand embroidered her first name initial to the front side of the tote bag. The alphabet "Y" is stitched with a chain stitch, and the tiny flower is stitched with Lazy Daisy.

The tote bag is finished and it flew 7,200 miles (11,000 km) away from Southern California to Asia!
It was such an enjoyable process for me to work on a handmade project together with my niece.  And I'm delighted to announce that the gift arrived safely in her hands, and she seems to like the handmade tote!  She told me that she brings it to school everyday, which left her aunty with a big smile on her face :) 
トートバッグはなんとか無事に完成して姪っ子の元まで飛んでいきました~。 その後・・・姪っ子からのメールで、毎日学校に持って行ってくれているということです。 それを聞いてオバさんは安心しましたよ~。
なかなか会う機会のない姪っ子と、今回はハンドメイドを通して頻繁に交流できたのがとても楽しかったし、嬉しかったです♪ まさに、食いしん坊万歳!じゃなくて、ハンドメイド万歳ですね!(笑) 
Happy handmade and happy sewing!
Love, Amy

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