Cuna Caravan Tote and Pouch

SOSMII2 Here’s my entry for Round Three of the Super Online Sewing Match II: The Caravan Tote and Pouch. Kudos to Sew Mama Sew for coming up with another project that allows us to give it our personal touch. I’m thoroughly enjoying competing with such imaginative and talented sewists and I’m anxious to see their interpretation of the Caravan Tote and Pouch. Good luck ladies!


Front View of Caravan Tote and Pouch

Back View of Caravan Tote and Pouch

All six of the remaining contestants were sent the Caravan Tote and Pouch Pattern by Anna Graham of Noodlehead  and a gift certificate to spend at Kimberly’s Fat Quarter Shop where I spent hours adding treasures to my wishlist. Then I pared it down to several Clementine Charm Packs and matching yardage by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit. Plus, I  bought a great tool for pressing and measuring hems called the Clover Hot Hemmer. Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop! I can see a Clementine Knitting Tote and Pouch being made in the near future.


Two Way Purse Zipper

For my Caravan tote, I decided to incorporate five small Cuna Indian Molas and Cuna traditional fabric that I’ve had for almost 20 years. I bought them in Panama while visiting my daughter and her husband who were living there at the time. I’m so pleased that I will be able to display and enjoy them after all this time.IMG_1250IMG_1265 One of my passions when I travel, is to admire the different textiles, traditional clothing, and handicrafts made by native peoples. The Cuna Indians have a fascinating dress, from  hand-stitched molas they use to adorn their traditional blouses, their brightly colored skirts and scarves, to their unique beaded adornments on their legs and arms. IMG_0447 IMG_0451Cuna molas

are intricately stitched using reverse appliqué and tiny embroidery designs. They are colorful, bold, and reflective of the Cuna’s tropical surroundings. Inspired by the color scheme of the molas and fabric from Panama, I chose the predominate colors of burgundy and dark blue denim for the outside of the tote and pouch, contrasting yellow/orange fabric for the inside pockets, and the traditional fabric for the main lining. IMG_1375I spent a day just brainstorming and planning how I would incorporate the molas on the tote and pouch. I trimmed all of the bird molas the same size and then sewed larger squares of the traditional fabric right sides together or “RST” as Anna says in her directions. Then I made slits in the backs so that I could turn them out. Finally, I strategically topstitched them on the “front” of my tote. I’m calling the side with the zipper the “back”. I trimmed the Kitty mola so that it would fit the front of the pouch. IMG_1212 I continued to work carefully through all of the directions step by step, switching between a heavy duty needle and a microtex needle as needed. I used clothespins instead of straight pins to hold the thick back and the front together while I sewed it with heavy duty thread. My roll of Heat and Bond hem tape came in handy for tacking down the zipper and the stiff side seams of the tote.

IMG_1309The Caravan tote and pouch were not difficult to put together, it just took time to do it right. Anna’s supply list and the step-by-step instructions with illustrations made it easy to make. It was a rewarding experience resulting in a beautiful and usable tote and pouch. It’s going to be my go-to beach bag because it’s just the perfect size.


Work and Wine

Often I  need to rely on my experience and patience when it comes to a problem that needs to be resolved.  For example, the snaps were a bit challenging, because I didn’t have exactly the right tools, but I practiced with the tools I had until I could attach them successfully before I installed them on the tote and pouch. Also, I had to piece together the the bottom of the pocket bag using a different but coordinating fabric so that it would be the right size. As Tim Gunn says on Project Runway, “Make it work!”

IMG_1221Making the tote and pouch took me several enjoyable afternoons. I was super focused on being meticulous about every direction, needle change, thread type and color. I even added decorative stitching here and there to give it a personal touch. I seriously considered leather for the straps after seeing so many beautiful Caravan Totes made with them, but I chose to make them out of denim. I used Bosal double-sided fusible foam stabilizer so that the straps would be super comfy on the shoulders.

IMG_1373For the photoshoot, my husband, puppy, and I drove to the nearby town of Fort Bragg to stroll along Glass Beach. We were hoping for fog, which is great lighting for pictures. The day was perfect! There was fog in the morning and warm sun in the afternoon. Everything we needed for a day at the beach fit into the tote and pouch.
IMG_1310The color scheme of the tote is not too feminine so even my husband didn’t mind carrying it. IMG_1344 My puppy likes it too! IMG_1237 Here’s a short video that I made featuring my project and a special guest!

Happy Sewing and Good Luck to all of the contestants! IMG_1328 I couldn’t be happier with my new beach tote and matching pouch. It will always remind me of special people and places in my life. I love it when that happens! Signature

About SeamQueen

Seamstress, Sewist, Artist, Fashionista, Quilter, Upcycler, Textile Obsessed!
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22 Responses to Cuna Caravan Tote and Pouch

  1. Connie says:

    wow Barbara! Very very impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Connie says:

    wow Barbara! I have to say that I am so impressed with the quality of your work and the originality of your ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOVE your bag… and how special it is now with the use of your Cuna Indian Molas that you have had for so long! Brilliant! And beautiful! Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • zibergirl says:

      Thank you! You don’t know how many times I’ve pulled them out and wondered what to do with them. I guess they were waiting for this particular opportunity!


  4. Absolutely love this! Both bags look great and it’s so awesome you were able to use those intricate native fabrics. One-of-a-kinds are my favorites. Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Super Online Sewing Match II: Round Three Showcase of Caravan Totes | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005.

  6. Pingback: Super Online Sewing Match II: Round Three Showcase of Caravan Totes - | The Storytelling Network

  7. How awesome to be able to carry those memories with you on the bag through the fabrics!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how you used this fabric! Your finished bag looks great. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful bag, I love your use of Cuna Molas. Traveling and finding beautiful fiber treasures around the world sounds like a dream. Thank you for sharing so much with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • zibergirl says:

      I’m in awe of all the handwork that goes into a mola. The ones I have are very special to me and I’m so happy that I got to use them on such a great tote. Thanks for the nice compliment!


  10. Ellen says:

    Your bag is wonderful! I love the vibrant colors of the Molas which set the theme. The decorative stitching further echoes the cultural look of this bag. I might add that the “special guest” looks pretty proud to be part of this project too!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. zibergirl says:

    Thank you for your kind compliment. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. We love our new puppy, it’s like having a baby all over again.


  12. Teresa says:

    I love the addition of fabric from your travels! It turned out great!


  13. What a great bag – a triumph! I love all the detailing and the story behind the fabric.


  14. Pingback: Super Online Sewing Match II: Round Four Contestants | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005.

  15. Pingback: Super Online Sewing Match II: Round Four Contestants - | The Storytelling Network

  16. I love this bag and the video you made, Barbara! Great use of the molas, so colorful and fun!


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