Sew Along, sewing

Summer Firefly Tote & Sew-along

I figured it would be a good time to share my newest finish, my project size Firefly Tote that I made during the Firefly Tote sew-along! It’s my Summer Firefly Tote! Summer has been filled with all kinds of activities for our family. I’m thinking August might be the month where I am looking forward to sewing a few more things for fun!

Summer Firefly Tote

Thank you to everyone who joined along during the sew-along (we wrapped up on July 13th, 2021). More importantly, I’m excited to do more! Let me know in the comments what pattern you would want to sew along with next

This post is available now to make the sew-along accessible to anyone who needs it. In other words, even though this sew-along isn’t currently happening, you can still follow along at whatever pace you need, whenever you need it!

Summer Firefly Tote

Links to the Sew-along

Below are the links to the newsletters that went out weekly as part of the sew-along. All newsletters contain a step-by-step video aside from Week 4’s wrap up post.

Looking for supplies for your Firefly?

  • 1″-wide cotton webbing (for the project size you’ll need one yard, for the tote size you’ll need 2 yards) or of course lengthen or shorten to your desired length!
  • 1″-wide leather handles (FOR TOTE SIZE: choose the 28″ length, feel free to shorten them down to the suggested 25″ length or leave at 28″) (FOR PROJECT SIZE: choose the 18″ length for the recommended length or go longer if you want!)
  • Zipper for front pocket (6″ zipper for the Project size, 7″ for the Tote size)
  • Chicago screws, for anyone who doesn’t want to use rivets. Available in sets of four in Antique Brass. Instructions for how to install chicago screws are shown in Week 3’s video.
  • Drawstring cord (3-yard pack) for drawstring closure (available in natural and three colors)
  • Twill tape (3-yard pack) for drawstring closure
Summer Firefly Tote

Project Details

This Summer Firefly Tote sewed up really beautifully thanks to these gorgeous fabrics:

Dry Oilskin from Oak Fabrics for Exterior, Arid Wilderness by Louise Cunningham (Cloud9 Fabrics) for the Accent, and Robert Kaufman Carolina Gingham (in denim and fog) for Lining

Thank you so much for your support! I can’t wait to see your Firefly Totes! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@noodlehead531) and use #FireflyTote


Single-fabric Firefly Totes

When I first start developing a pattern (like the Firefly Tote pattern shown here), I grab a few solids and start cutting. I typically use a solid for the initial samples (usually a less precious fabric for the very first attempts). These single-fabric Firefly Totes were both made when things were getting pretty close to the final dimensions (there were a few minor tweaks after I made these samples even!).

Single-fabric Firefly Totes

Believe me that there were so many iterations of this Tote before I finally landed on this design and these sizes. Whew! My studio was looking like a bag making factory! I had so many ideas on how this tote should look and when I finally came to this combination of pockets/zipper placement, etc. I knew it was the one.

Single-fabric Firefly Totes
Single-fabric Firefly Totes

Single-fabric Firefly Totes: modification

These both are made using a solid fabric for the entire exterior. I know you’re probably thinking, “But the pattern uses an accent fabric for the front pocket!”. Well, that’s true, but of course you can cut whatever pieces from any fabric you choose. So if you’d like to make a Firefly using a single fabric exterior (hey! it doesn’t have to be a solid!) you’ll need 1 yd of both exterior and lining fabrics {2/3 yd of each for the Project size} and then the drawstring closure can be cut out of a 1/2 yd {1/3 yd for the Project size}. See? Not too bad!

We’re heading into Week 3 of the Firefly Tote sew-along in about 6 days. If you haven’t signed up, you still can, click here to enter your name and email! The next weekly email will go out on Tuesday, July 6th (about 6:25 am CST here in the US). Each week’s email will have links for the previous sew-along emails, so no need to worry, you won’t have missed anything!

Project Details

Oh and if you’re looking for a full kit for the Firefly, Sewtopia put a bunch together, maybe you could snag one of those?


Firefly in Kept

I wanted this Firefly in Kept to have its own post. I made this sample of my newest pattern, the Firefly Tote and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about fabric weights and combinations.

Firefly in Kept

Fabric Weight

This sample uses Big Sur Canvas in Black (I purchased mine from Stitch Supply Co. for this tote). Canvas is one of the suggested fabrics for the exterior fabric selection. I try to be very specific with suggested fabrics because in bag making it is very important (it’s actually always important no matter what you’re sewing, as it does affect the outcome of your project – so always check that out the suggestions for the pattern you’re making!).

Firefly in Kept

I suggest a 7-9 oz. canvas for the exterior fabric requirement. Big Sur is at the top of that range at 9.6 oz. so it’s a perfect choice! Anything lighter then 7 oz. will either require more interfacing for the same/similar results OR a different combination of fabric/quilting, etc. This includes Essex which is too light weight of a fabric (5.6 oz. weight) for using as the Exterior! Essex is the substrate my fabric collections have been printed on (Forage, Driftless, Quarry Trail, etc.). Essex is perfect for the accent fabric however!


For this particular sample and as written in the pattern, my personal preference is Pellon 809 for interfacing (it’s considered a medium-weight fusible for bag making). It’s a bit stiff and perfect for a tote like this. I have no difficulty with wrinkles or fusing it to canvas (sometimes it can be very fussy when fusing to quilting cotton), but with canvas it goes on perfectly! You could also substitute Decovil light! (Let me know how you like it if you do.)

Kept Fabric

This sample showcases Carolyn Friedlander’s latest fabric collection, Kept as the accent fabric. I love being able to use a beautiful print like this and I think it is such a fun pop of interest to the front pockets/drawstring closure.

Project Details:


Lastly, I’m putting together a sew-along for the Firefly Tote that will begin June 22nd (the first email will go out then!). It’s an email-based newsletter style sew-along. You can click here to sign up! No pressure to keep up with the schedule, it’s just for fun. If you’re busy during this time sign up anyway and keep the emails for future use!