Approximate finished dimensions are: 18″Wide x 15″ Tall x 5″ Deep
The Professional Tote has all the pockets and compartments needed for today’s professional woman. Whether you work in an office or not, this tote has it all. There is a pleated pocket on each side of the tote to hold a bottle of water, umbrella, magazine, baby bottle or telephone. Also, on the front is a zippered pocket to hold your ID and Passport for your airport travel. Behind that pocket is one for your boarding pass.
On the backside is one large pocket for a newspaper. On the inside, there is a large center dividing zippered pocket that holds file folders. There is plenty of room inside for a laptop computer. Several pockets are inside for your business cards, keys, pens, PDA, and more. To finish it off, there is a zipper that will close tight to keep the contents secure. This would also work great as a sewing tote with a place for patterns or books, fabrics and notions.
Let’s not forget about the “professional” diaper bag, with a pocket for all the babies’ needs.(See FAQ’s for information on bag size and zipper size) I sell a very nice heavy weight webbing/belting that I use in most of my totes.
3 1/2 yards of webbing are needed for a Professional Tote. See 1″ Webbing and 1.25″ Webbing. Note: If you make the handles with fabric, you do not need any webbing. I fuse the handle fabric with Decor Bond interfacing.
Fabrics and Notions needed for the Professional Tote:
Main Fabric: 1-1/8 yards
Contrast Fabric: 1 yard OR 1-3/8 yards if making fabric handles)
Lining Fabric: 1-3/8 yards
1 -Magnetic Snap, 1- Vinyl Pocket, 1- Cord Lock Set , 2.5 yards of Decor Bond
Handbag zippers: My zipper colors match the webbing colors. You will need one 7″ zipper to match the outside fabric, one 14″ zipper to match the lining fabric & one 18″ zipper to match the outside fabric for the Professional Tote.
1- Swivel Hook, 1 Set of Purse Feet
I made 6 of these. What does that tell you? They were gifts and the people could not believe I mad them. The construction was a little tricky but the results were amazing. Better than the name brand totes at any price.
The directions are clear, easy to understand and follow. Read through the instructions before doing anything, including cutting!
It seems complicated but it’s not, just follow the directions step by step. The bag is stunning! I’ve made several for gifts.
Suggestion, do put ‘feet’ on the bottom, keeps it a bit cleaner.
I used a longer zipper for the zipper closing, for some reason it was easier to put in.
Great pattern! Great instuctions! Thank you!
Anne Quade –
This pattern is amazing! Very well written and easy to follow along.
I made one of these about 10 years ago and love it. I am only making another one now because the straps are getting so worn. This is a fabulous bag and it was so easy to make.
The pattern is fine. The construction is great. But it does have several shortcomings. Despite my reservations about the these things, I made my first PT according to the pattern, with minor exceptions (listed below). Next time, I will make additional modifications.
The bag is a tad small for airplane travel. Putting puffy pockets on the ends of a 15″ tote does not make it an 18″ tote. On the inaugural flight for the bag, I sat next to a woman who had asked about my bag. She said her daughter-in-law had made her one. She said it was a gorgeous bag, but that she used it for one flight and never used it again because it was too small. Bingo.
Next time I make it – and there WILL be a next time – I will enlarge the pattern to make it 18″ wide and 6″ deep.
The other thing I would do is to make the lining asymmetrical. The zippered pocket being in the centre of the bag considerably limits what you can pack into it. I will cut one side of the lining larger and the other side smaller so that the zippered pocket ends up closer to one side of the bag, about 1″ or 1 1/2″ from the side, not in the middle of the bag. That way, the iPad or laptop will slide right in and I will have all the rest of the bag for packing lunch, shoes, headphones, books.
Changes I did make were to add feet and insert a bit of additional support in the bottom, in the form of plastic canvas cut to fit. I inserted the prongs for the feet up through the plastic canvas and fastened it in before putting the lining into the bag.
I put a credit card holder on the zippered pocket where the pattern provides for an optional ID holder.
I used a separating, sports zipper rather than a regular zipper. I like the look of the wider teeth on the bag and it is easier to find things inside.
Next time, I will either make the bottom contrast section from ‘pleather’, vinyl or home dec fabric or I will use fusible plastic on the contrast fashion fabric. This should help with cleanliness and wear.
I will also attach a snap to the very top of the handles to hold them together or fashion an additional piece with a snap on it that will hold the straps together. Separate straps just do not stay in place well when running through a busy airport.
Overall, I love the pattern and I love the look of the bag. I just wish it were larger and that the lining configuration allowed for more usable space inside the bag.
Tina Carpenter –
I had been looking for a tote with a middle section inside and bingo you delivered. I have been sewing for over 40 years and must tell you I have never sewed any pattern that was better written or illustrated they this was. The bag turned out great and I can’t wait to make another. I went back to the quilt shop where I purchased the pattern and told them for wonderful yours was written. I saw another one there by you so I bought it just because. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed sewing this bag. I loved how throughout the pattern you gave very insightful tips and how you would write admire and set it aside (it made me smile, like you knew what a person would be doing at that point. I would send you a picture of my tote but I don’t see away to do it. I will keep looking. Thanks for your patterns!
Debbie Wilson –
I saw one of the pro totes 4 years ago and admired it. I knew it was way above my pay grade. I just took a class and completed my tote. My instructor changed the pattern to do away with most of the décor bond. She used a lighter pellon in some places, a little décor bond and FUSED SOFT AND STABLE TO THE MAIN BAG PIECES WITH STEAM A seam. She had us cut the soft and stable to be just inside the stitch line so we didn’t have so much bulk on the seams. The bag is beautiful. I am planning to make the mini tote and will use the modified zipper instructions and add purse feet. They did have a tote using décor bond and one using soft and stable sitting side by side. There was a tremendous amount of difference in the appearance. Love the soft and stable. I was surprised to hear someone thought it wasn’t big enough. Much bigger and you’d need a Sherpa to haul it. I love it for commuting to work but want the mini tote and to try Creative Thimble’s other patterns as well.
Debby, I am so glad that you finished your Professional Tote. I have not tried one with Soft and Stable myself but have seen a few of them. It would be a good idea to cut down the Soft and Stable like you mentioned so it isn’t in the seam allowances as I think it would be too bulky otherwise. Enjoy all of the compliments you receive on your tote. Thanks, Laura
I took this professional tote bag as a class at my local quilt shop. It was amazing. It is definitely a very involved pattern but so worth the end result. At first I was thinking there was no way that I could ever make this. All you do is follow the very detailed cutting instructions ( and I even used a directional fabric ), she even gives you labels which are amazing to keep yourself organized. Then you follow it along step by step and then next thing you know you are done. I am taking mine on my trip to Alaska with me. Love it, will be making more that’s for sure.
I have made four of these bags and while contemplating what I wanted to sew today, this tote came to mind (been a few years since I made my last one). Came to your site to see if there was any mention of soft and stable and there was. So I am off to make another using S&S. Love this easy to follow pattern and the finished tote!
Kevin (verified owner) –
Since the pattern designer doesn’t mention this anywhere in the description I wanted to let you know that this is not a pattern; it is simply instructions with cutting dimensions. There is only one pattern piece included and that is the Pocket Flap. That is because of the curve on it.
I draft 99% of my own patterns. The only reason I buy one is to save me time in having to measuring and cut. I know this isn’t important to some, but if you are very busy like I am and your buy other patterns to save some time it is important to know this.
I can’t really comment on the pattern design itself. I finally opened it up last night thinking I would be able to quickly sew it up. Instead spent all of MY spare time drawing the pattern pieces in Illustrator. I modified the sizes to make it a bit larger. I added some additional pockets as well. I’ll print them out when I get a chance some more free time.
It looks like a great design. I am looking forward to making it. Mine will be made of a nice soft leather I have had on the shelf for a while now. It is going to be a special gift for someone very special.
Kevin is correct in saying that there are no pattern pieces in my patterns. I have designed them so you can simply use your rotary cutter and mat to cut them all out. All of the pieces are rectangles or squares and cut out as you would cut out pieces for a quilt. Kevin, send me a picture of your finished tote in the leather it sounds like it is going to be beautiful.
I first saw the Pro Tote at a meeting of my sewing group. I saw this gal’s bag, and had to find out about it – it was beautiful, and big, and didn’t look like a gee-I-made-this-myself bag. Got the pattern, and with a couple adjustments, I made it up, and I LOVE this bag. My adjustments were to (1) add a layer of thin fusible fleece, because I thought the stuff I carried in 2003 (when the pattern was first published) and the things I carry now are different – the newer things require some padding; and (2) changed the cords on the side pockets so the ends don’t hang out (I just threaded one cord through the cord lock – no dangly ends). Otherwise, I made it up as is. This has to be the best-engineered bag I’ve made in a long time. Thanks!
LOVE LOVE LOVE this tote. The pattern is so incredibly well written. It was very straightforward to make, I had no trouble following the instructions and I really appreciated how detailed the cutting diagrams were, and how the interfacing pieces are numbered to match each fabric piece they go to. The little numbered labels to pin to each piece really helped me keep organized. My pro tote is now my go-to carry-on when I fly. My slim little laptop fits perfectly in the laptop sleeve – although some fat laptops would have trouble fitting. I think the bag looks gorgeous and I am so proud to show it off. I am currently working on my second one.
Thank you so much for making my day with your kind words about my pattern. I am currently working on another pattern and this will energize me to keep writing!! I am so happy that you are enjoying using your tote. I am so glad that your computer fits so nicely into the pocket. It is just serendipity since when I designed the pattern 12 years ago, I made it so it would fit a file folder inside of the pocket, who knew that computers would get so small and virtually replace the file folder. I have since designed the Mini Professional Tote to specifically fit an iPad in the center pocket and even they are getting smaller.
Thanks again and have a great weekend.
Linda Tullock –
I am hooked on making these bags! What we did up here in Canada – for the interfacing – front and back – the two sides = we used foam fabric> Works great and the bag stands by itself!
Thanks Linda, I still haven’t tried one with foam on the Professional Tote, but I have on some of my other bags and I do like it. I thought it might be too thick for the Pro Tote, but I’m glad to hear that it’s not! Laura
Reading this pattern through before I actually started seemed overwhelming, but as I followed them step by step, it was so very logical that it was difficult to go wrong, and I will definitely be making another one! I used cotton twill on the bottom pieces and covered the strap with the twill as well. I also used the foam interfacing for the outer pieces, having two layers of that on the bottom gives it a lot of support. I didn’t add feet this time, but will definitely do it next time around when I make the smaller version. Thank you so much for writing such detailed, yet easy to read and understand instructions
Charmaine, Thank you for taking the time to send me a note, I’m so glad that you pushed through the directions and actually enjoyed the process. I know that it looks like a lot of directions, but I tried to write everything down so you wouldn’t have to read between the lines. If you add feet next time add them after you finish the outside of the bag, right before you “set aside and admire”. Happy Sewing, Laura
I am still in the process of making this tote, I love that the pieces can be cut with a rotary and are square, it save time cutting a flimsy pattern and then cutting material again. I find that this helps me with a more exact seam allowance and sewed structure. What I would love is on the cut out portion for some of the pieces to state “top” or “bottom” to help decipher how to cut a material with a distinct pattern. It really sucks to get to construction and have to recut material because its upside down or sideways. Overall, so far I love how easy this is to read, follow, and construct. I am a novice sewer and am doing this in a class.
Mary ONeill –
Love this pattern. As previous folks mentioned, if you follow the instructions to the “T” it all comes out beautifully. I have made 3 and made variations on each. Here are some of those changes: I used outdoor fabric on all of the exterior main pieces (not on the lining pieces). The only hassle with the outdoor fabric is you need to use a pressing cloth when ironing, but I felt it would be more durable and you could wipe the bag clean. I also added more vinyl pockets to the inside zipper pocket. I love tons of pockets. Also, I used Pellon’s fusible interfacing 987F on all of the main, exterior bag pieces (the main bag pieces, the side panels and the bottom panels) and used decor bond on everything else. It’s similar to Soft and Stable but it is fusible and the bags stand up beautifully. I did not cut out the pattern piece labels, I just use blue painting tape marked with the piece #. I am planning to make a few more as gifts and then make the mini professional tote for my day to day running around. Pattern is great and thanks.
Mike Martell AKA Mr Laura –
Thank You Mary!
Barb McKillop –
This Professional tote instructions are by far the best written and so easy to follow? I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed making this tote. Thank you for supplying the pattern piece numbers. You have truly thought of everything. Made four so far. I will never hesitate to buy another one of your patterns.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. I am so happy that you like the pattern; they get easier the more you do. I often say it’s like putting together a puzzle.
I hope you continue to enjoy the process and make many more. Thanks again for the kind words. Laura
I just finished cutting and fusing the fabric. Really looking forward to starting this project. It does look overwhelming and I’m just above being a beginning sewer. It was good to hear positive comments regarding taking it step-by-step. I do have one question, we are told to cut 2 pieces for #11 contrast fabric and 1 piece of #11 fusible interfacing. I am assuming that only 1 piece is bonded but this appears to be an error in the printed instructions. If that is not the case. please comment. No one else has commented on this so I was a bit surprised.
Fran, You are correct you should cut 2 fabric pieces for #11 and 1 fusible interfacing piece for #11. You will only fuse the interfacing to one of the fabric pieces. Not sure where you think the error is, please let me know if there is an error in the printed instructions and what the step number is. Thanks, Laura
Christine Chamberlain –
I made the professional tote to be used as a diaper bag for my daughter. It went together smoothly and it looks so nice! The directions are spot on and I had no trouble whatsoever.
Christine, I’m so happy that you enjoyed making the tote. Thank you for the kind words and I know your daughter will enjoy carrying it.
Cherie Garcelon –
I made this bag for a friend and hated it, so many zippers. I swore that I would never make another one. A few years later I was shopping and found this adorable purse pattern for a Mini Professional Tote. I have made at least 6 of them over the years. Imagine my surprise when I was looking at my friend’s tote yesterday and found that it the exact pattern as the Mini Tote except larger. Must have been having a bad sewing week when I made the large tote becuase I am totally hooked on the pattern for the Mini one. I now have to order another pattern for the Full size tote. I love the all the pockets and have replaced the zipper on the closure of the bag with magnets. For anyone that loves purses and fabric I would recommend this pattern.
Cherie, I’m so glad that you are enjoying my patterns, even if it took a while! The first one is always the hardest and if you struggle with it you want to scream, but lots of times when you step away for a little bit you forget the pain (sort of like childbirth) and really love the bag after all. Thanks for the kind words and sharing them with me and happy sewing!