Project 2: Totoro!

Once I was back from visiting family, in a jet-lagged haze I decided to attempt a project for the little one and I went to IKEA and bought some fabric.

I found an incredibly cute pattern for a Totoro bag from Sew Desu Ne that I fell in love with. Never mind the fact I hadn’t done applique since I made a cushion at school aged 11. How hard could it be?


I used the MINNA range in pale green, black and cream to make my bag. I bought 1.2 m of green, 30 cm of white and 10 cm of black.

It was the first time I had ever used a pdf pattern – I found the experience interesting – on the one hand I loved the clear photo instructions and all the pattern pieces. But sticking them together took an age. I don’t think I could possibly have attempted a project like this without a pattern – but I may be tempted be to a bit less slow with the sticking next time.img_20170712_224446.jpg

The alterations I made to the pattern were to change it from a tote type bag to a rucksack – which required two main differences. Firstly I needed to make a new ear pattern (because the ears were the straps on the main pattern) and then I needed new straps – I didn’t even make a pattern – I looked at the little one who would be wearing it and cut out reasonable rectangles for the new straps.

I found the applique a bit of a faff – but it does look cute. I traced the patterns onto standard iron on interfacing and then ironed that to the correct colour fabric. For the first few pieces I pinned them in place – but it was really wobbly and tricky. I don’t own any fusible webbing or that fancy double sided interfacing that people talk about on quilting blogs….. but I decided I would not be so easily defeated! After a few I glued my pieces on using wood glue. I was amazed how well this worked – I smeared a thin layer around the edges and held it in place for a few seconds. It was SO FAST. This was the late night alternative to pins I had dreamed of. It made it a lot easier!

Evo-Stik Interior Resin W Wood Adhesive

Because my fabric was thick woven cotton it did fray up quite a bit while I was sewing down my applique pieces. I followed Choly Knight’s suggestion and used a straight (rather than zig zag) stitch to give it a frayed edge look. You can see my face here – I found it very cute and a bit time consuming but really worth the effort.


I then constructed the bag. I decided to use the same fabric to line as the main outside – mostly because I had enough of it and liked the colour!

Construction was mostly really easy. I followed the pattern instructions and made the lining and outer – nestled the two together and then sewed closed the whole in the lining and poked it all together.


I did have two problems though – the first the little pieces of the ears and the leaf – I could not for the life of me get them right side out however many chop sticks I snapped. I ended up having to unpick and do a bit of a fudged up job in the end where I’d torn the material.

I also had some very lumpy edges….


But – overall I made a sturdy rucksack that my little one loves (I don’t post photos of my daughter on the internet – but I have some great pictures of her grinning as wide as her Totoro). It was a good 4 nights of staying up to late 🙂



One thought on “Project 2: Totoro!

  1. Pingback: Project 5: A twist on the Totoro bag (in that it is now an elephant bag and looks completely different) | Late Night Sewing

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