Structure is the secret ingredient of a successful tote bag, and that means that the most important element of success is what you don’t see on the outside of the finished product – interfacing.
The secret weapon in creating a tote bag that has enough structure to stand up like the one I just made? It’s ByAnnie’s Soft & Stable.
The photos below show Soft & Stable during various stages of the black & yellow tote bag’s construction.
Soft & Stable is basically an interfacing or stabilizer made of thin foam sandwiched between fabric outer layers. It comes in black or white, and is 58″ wide. The average street price is $17-$18/yard, and it is sold packaged or on bolts.
When you first handle Soft & Stable, it may not seem as strong or as stabilizing as it actually is. I’ll admit that I was skeptical of its ability to shape my large tote bags even after feeling its considerable bulk. But it is surprisingly effective. After using the two bags that I made for a little over a month, I’m really impressed with how Soft & Stable holds its shape – and with how it protects items inside my bag.
Here’s some tips for working with Soft & Stable:
- I found that of all the scissors that I own, the most effective at cutting Soft & Stable was my Fiskars 8 Inch Amplify Mixed Media Shears, which are designed for cutting thicker items.
- Soft & Stable is very thick to pin, especially when you are working with multiple layers of it. I recommend working with quilting pins that are longer than normal sewing pins. An even better solution is to work with Clover Jumbo Wonder Clips (see Maria’s review) instead of pins. They work fabulously at holding the Soft & Stable layers together, and without the risk of stabbing yourself forcing a pin through thick layers.
By Annie’s Soft & Stable, while certainly not inexpensive, is definitely worth the money to get a tote bag that is durable and good looking. And it’s easy to work with (with a little patience). This is a must-have for any tote bag project!
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