I designed and made my Dream Tote Bag!

Apr 16, 2022Create, Lifestyle

Hello hello!

I have been busy in the studio the last couple of months. I love that since coming back from my travels, I feel much more creatively inspired.

Sooo back story:

I have made tote bags for myself for a very long time. I think the first time was shortly after I learned how to sew in high school (10+ years ago) and ask anybody, I love me a good tote bag — BUT even though I’ve made so many iterations of tote bags, I was constantly looking for other tote bags because for some reason they just weren’t meeting all my needs. Over the years, I’ve made pretty much all the tote bags I thought I wanted: standard size tote bags, mini tote bags, extra large tote bags, drawstring tote bags, crossbody tote bags… and still I wasn’t super satisfied.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized… the reason I love tote bags is because because they go with everything (if you’re into that look), they fit so many things inside of it, and they fold down nicely when for travel. However, it just wasn’t very organized! There is the one big space to throw everything in — from notebooks to pens to my wallet, water bottle, lip balms, keys… everything was always such a jumbled mess.

And so last month, I scoured Pinterest for tote bag ideas and spent several days sketching up different concepts to fit my personal needs. And with careful planning and lots of math (ugh), I designed and sewed my very own dream tote bag!

It has EIGHT outer pockets

– ranging in size to fit everything I need for easy access, such as cloth face masks, keys, reusable Baggu totes, my Nook e-reader (yes ma’am, I did that!), my iPhone of course, scissors, and pens… yes, PEN POCKETS!

and SEVEN inner pockets

– of which there are two pockets on either side of the bag that I designed to be spacious enough to fit a full size reusable water bottle so it’s not sloshing around and definitely not leaking (!!! what a freaking dream!), or whatever really!

My Dream Tote Bag x Nerelle

The other pockets are also great for compartmentalizing my wallet, zero waste utensils kit, hand sanitizer, mobile pocket printer, journaling supplies, and all the little things that like to get lost in people’s purses, like lip balms, mini moisturizers (begone, eczema!), AirPods, etc. And voila, all my thingy things are organized, and I can put my iPad Pro and my chunky Traveler’s Notebook (standard size) in the main compartment.

It is how you say… * chef’s kiss *

And I call it… The “My Dream Tote Bag” canvas tote bag. Hahah —yes I’m very creative 😉 Just kidding… but not really.

I immediately wanted to sew more and possibly put them up online to see if anyone would be interested in sending my way because I’m a creative genius (but really, who would be interested in pre-ordering?!), but then I took a long break from my sewing machine. And I realized something about myself. I like sewing, and I loveee the outcomes when it works out, but I don’t exactly love the tedious process, and it can suck up a lot of energy and brainpower, and patience, ooh lots of patience. I actually really like sewing itself… it’s the whole prep part that’s kind of a pain sometimes.

Which is a bummer for Ian because he saw my bag and he almost literally begged me to make a bag for him too haha, but I’m still getting around to it… lol.

Cut to more than a month later, and I have been planning in my head to make more tote bags. One of my neighbors has been following and supporting me in my creative journey, and she was the first person to comment that she wanted to pay for a tote bag like this because she loves how organized it is! And since she’s leaving the island for a long while… plus the fact that we’re birthday twins (Pisces, hunnayyy!), I decided to make her a bag as a going away/belated birthday gift, while I fine tune my measurements and sewing process. I’m also prepping another bag for Ian using old pants… but I’ll share that later! 😉 I definitely didn’t have enough canvas fabric for a whole new bag, so I used up this coral reef patterned fabric that is actually perfect for her as she’s a marine scientist. I recently received the reef fabric from another friend who was decluttering, found this leftover fabric, thought of me, and gave it to me to use.

It took many hours to plan and cut and prep the project and finally, I got to sewing. I mixed the reef pattern fabric and canvas and I love how it came out! I also added a little personal element — a tag that has her name on one side, and my initials on the other side. The tag also doubles as a loop for keychains!

I gifted her the bag right before she departed on her travels, and I was thrilled to see her eyes glow at the new bag, and that she was so excited to use it right away! When she got to Hawaii, she sent me a video of her dream tote bag all filled up — fully embracing form and function — and I am encouraged to make more tote bags!

In fact, I’ve actually already designed another tote bag concept, and made one as a prototype that I gifted to another friend, who is an artist! I’m really excited to show that because I think it’s super unique and perfect for any artist who loves tote bags (aka – me!) So I’ll share that soon too!!

Thanks for being here!

xo, Nerelle


  1. aysabaw

    That’s a lot of pockets 😀

    • nerelle

      Hahah yes there are! Pockets are so great!! 😀


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