Finishing Unfinished Projects (UFOs) Part 4: Renaissance Totes

There were 58 projects in my notorious UFO pile, 23 of which were totes. Of those, twenty were what I call Renaissance Totes, my most luxurious pieces of wearable art (I already wrote about the remaining three patchwork totes).

Over the years, I have been saving my most special fabrics for these totes. The most beautiful, textured tapestries and velveteens I collected were reserved for the outside layers of my Renaissance Totes. The most luxurious silks, brocades or other gorgeous textiles I put aside for their linings:

I also procured real leather handles only for these totes.

I haven’t made Renaissance Totes for several years. The unfinished ones in my UFO pile waited there for at least two years. There was also a big gap between those half-sewn ones and those that came before them. 

When I went back to the Renaissance totes this time around, I was shocked by the amount of time it took me to make them. There were so many tasks involved! Measuring, cutting, ironing, sewing, adding interfacing, inserting zippers, making pockets, turning, inserting magnets, putting in rivets… 

Even though I worked on them in batches, the Renaissance Totes were the main reason why my planned-for one month of finishing UFOs morphed into more than three months… They just took SO MUCH TIME to make! I estimate that I put at least twenty hours into creating each and every one of them.

Here is one tote. They all have outside open pockets on the back. Inside, I put in a zippered pocket for valuables, and two full-width pockets, each divided into three. The fronts are a patchwork of textured fabrics. The totes close with a magnetic snap. 

All twenty totes turned out just the way I was hoping they would:

I gave one tote to a dear friend for a special birthday, and one to my daughter. I decided to keep the last one for myself. What can I do? I just can’t resist purple!

By the time I finished all twenty, however, I felt entirely burnt out. Completing them felt like a chore. I experienced very little joy in the process… And so, after putting in the last stitches in the very last tote, I knew I was right in what I suspected for quite some time: my bag-making days are mostly over… I just don’t enjoy sewing bags any more. I’m a lot more excited about designing art quilts and about textile fine art in general. There might be more bags in my future, but not for quite a while. 

You can find this last batch of Renaissance Totes in my Etsy shop. These is also a tutorial, if you’d like to make one for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Finishing Unfinished Projects (UFOs) Part 4: Renaissance Totes”

  1. They’re all so pretty! As the proud owner of one of your gorgeous totes, I can attest to their quality, they’re large and very comfortable to carry, and since there probably won’t be anymore, extremely rare to boot. 😊

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