Klum House Portsmith Tote

Klum House Portsmith Tote

Sewing bags is another of those things that I wouldn't have tried if it wasn't for the #sewmystyle2018 project. Normally I'm pretty much focused on dressmaking and I'm also not keen on the idea of the kind of hardware that it might entail. As it turns out, careful sourcing of supplies makes a big difference, and helped to make this a quicker make than I anticipated. With Christmas coming up soon I'm now also thinking that these can be an excellent idea for handmade gifts as they suit personal style much more easily than garments would.

Klum House Portsmith Tote

Fabric and supplies

Supplies will make a big difference to the making experience and the final product for this project. Klum House do sell their own kits, which contain everything you need for a professional looking bag. Unfortunately shipping costs to the UK are pretty high so I turned to local suppliers for my bag.

I have never worked with waxed canvas before and wanted to give this a try as it is mentioned in the pattern and makes for a slightly more waterproof bag. I sourced a metre from Fabric UK for £8.99. It arrived pretty quickly and I would say I probably have enough left over for another tote if I want. I'm happy with this fabric choice as it looks like it belongs, but I do have to say that I'm also in love with the blush pink faux leather that Charlotte from the Sewing Blog of a Professional Stitch Ripper has used (from Minerva Crafts). I added a lining to my bag using a polyester fabric that I had in my stash - I was never keen on it for dressmaking after I bought it, but it is absolutely perfect for this! I also used topstitching thread from my stash that was left over from making the Morgan jeans for a decorative detail.

Bag handles are where the hardware elements start to come in. If you have a leather punch tool that you are desperate to get the use out of, here's the time. You can source beautiful leather handles and rivets that you attach using these tools that really do look professional. If using a leather punch isn't your cup of tea (it's not mine) then you can by pre-punched items. Prym have a range of pre-punched supplies including bag handles, for example. I sourced mine from The Purse Works , which has a range of items that you can use for bag making at a reasonable price. They took a while to hand stitch on though, so beware!

Klum House Portsmith Tote

Pattern and Instructions

There was more than one pattern available for this month; the Freemont and the Portsmith. I picked the Portsmith Tote because it looked simpler for my first attempt at mag making. The pattern comes as a pdf download and, I'm pleased to say, only has a few pieces. The instruction booklet is excellent. It has tips for working with materials that may be new (eg waxed cotton canvas) and has very clear diagrams to accompany the written directions. I felt that the construction was pretty straightforward and I had mine put together fairly quickly. There are videos linked that help with bits like turning out the envelope bottom that helped me out too. I would feel confident making any of their patterns  now, based on the quality of the instructions.

Klum House Portsmith Tote


I added a lining to my bag. It was very easy! I calculated how much of the outer fabric was folded over to the inside and remove this from the corresponding pattern piece, leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance. I then constructed the lining in the same manner as the main bag, but adding a small inner pocket too. For the pocket I turned the raw edges under and topstitched it into place (similar to the pocket on my Kalle top).

I attached the lining to the main fabric along the folded inner edge, before this was topstitched into place. I then sewed the edges of the outer shell and inner lining separately (they were both inside out at this point, attached at the folded over top). I left a small gap at the top of one of the sides of the lining so that I could turn the lining out to its correct side after sorting out the turning and envelope fold of the main fabric, and edgestitched these together to finish the bag.


I found this to be much more enjoyable than I was expecting. it was pretty straightforward to make the initial pattern and it was fun to add my own tweaks and variations that personalised the pattern. The only bit I wasn't happy with was the leather straps because there was no way I could avoid having the stitching showing on the inside of the bag - they weren't secure otherwise. It is a drawback of not using a leather punch and rivets and I feel takes away from the otherwise beautifully constructed inside with its lovely lining and pocket! I'm hoping that the person that I'm intending to gift this to doesn't mind and is instead happy to receive a handcrafted one of a kind bag instead!
(It's also a shame that it's been so gloomy lately; my photos don't do it any justice).

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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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