Tote bag ideas

I don't have anything new to display - I'm still working on a piece that is just not turning out as I would like - but lately I've also been consumed with a desire to start on my sister's birthday present. (Her birthday is in January). I'm hoping to bang out a bunch of Christmas and birthday presents this summer when I have the time, since graduate school might be a bit time-consuming.

My idea for my sister's birthday present is a tote bag (made by me), with "Keep Calm and Carry On" cross-stitched on one side and "Now Panic and Freak Out" cross-stitched on the other side (pattern available at All Stitches). Won't that be awesome? This project will be tricky for two reasons - I've never made a tote bag before, and I've never cross-stitched on something other than Aida fabric. I know you can use waste canvas to cross-stitch on other materials, so I'll probably do that. Or maybe do it on Aida and then line the Aida and use it to form an outside pocket? I have lots of ideas. However, I'm still on the quest for the perfect bag tutorial. I have a book with a tote how-to in it, but the zipper does not enclose the entire top of the bag. Bizarre, eh?

So far I've found this tutorial from Hooked on Needles, which looks promising. Crafty Mariko has a zippered ruffled tote, which is cute. I would have to omit the ruffles, of course. The recessed zipper tutorial by My Spare Time might come in very handy, even though the tutorial is for a handbag. I've also found this tutorial by Debbie Colgrove of about.com. And, of course, this website has a great list of about a bazillion bag tutorials. So many options and ideas!

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