Olivia Carryall Tote Pattern
Updated: Jan 13
The Olivia Carryall Tote is taller version of a bag that I have carried and made for several years now. There are so many great things about this bag! Where do I begin? I should first point out that the Olivia is a large tote - slightly larger than I would imagine most would carry as a purse. This bag is loaded with pockets, making it perfect for travel, beach trips, work papers, or even as a computer bag. In fact, the large interior zipper pocket can fit many 13" laptops, and the main compartment can fit up to a 17"! So, what else makes this bag pattern so great? Keep reading...
One of the many wonderful things about this pattern is the ability to easily customize it. That also explains why it took about a year and a half before I finally finished the pattern. There were simply so many possibilities for the bag. I kept rewriting it with different sizes, shapes and features. In the end, I settled on this version because the larger exterior top piece is perfect for showing off those gorgeous fabrics with a larger prints - and come on...the tie. How could I resist?
BONUS: Instructions for Smaller Size Inlcuded
Not looking for a large bag? Great news...Thanks to the suggestion of my wonderful testers, I have added bonus measurements for making a smaller version. The smaller size is an 85% reduction of the original Olivia - perfect for using as a handbag! The striped denim bag below is the smaller size. On this one, I used leather long straps, omitted the short webbing handles and the top ties, and made a removable tie instead.
Finished Dimensions: Aproximately 18"W across top (15"W at base) x 15"H x 5"D
Small Size: Approximately 14 ½” across top (12” at base) x 12 ¾”H x 4"D
Interior Pockets: 6 slip pockets of various sizes & 1 large zipper pocket
BONUS Clear Vinyl Interior Pocket: Video Tutorial at the end of post
Exterior Pockets: 2 large slip pockets (exterior front)
Closure: Fabric Tie (snap option also included in pattern)
Additional Options: Key fob, snap closure, straps reinforced with rivets
Fabrics and Materials
Another thing I love about this pattern is the flexibility you have when it comes to fabrics. You can use just about whatever material you like in some capacity on this bag. Scroll down to view the materials list, the names of some shops I like to use for sourcing materials, and my favorite combination of materials for the Olivia bag.
Where Do I Source Materials?
Fabric: Great Heron Thread Co., Hawthorne Supply Co., Spoonflower
Cotton Webbing: Zipper Zoo, PennySupplies (Etsy), MissHandcraft (Etsy)
Waterproof Canvas: Fabric Wholesale Direct
Waxed Canavs: AL Frances Textiles (Etsy)
Leather Straps: Our Website (Click here for link)
My Favorite Combination
Exterior Top: QC (+Fuse Woven Interfacing + Decovil Light) or Cotton Canvas (+Decovil Light)
Fabric Ties: Essex Linen or other Lightweight Woven Fabric (do not add interfacing)
Exterior Bottom: 16 oz Heavy Canvas Bottom (+Decovil Light)
Interior Top: Same fabric as exterior bottom (+same interfacing suggestion)
Main Interior: Waterproof Canvas
Pocket Trim: Lightweight Soft Leather (1-3 oz)
Bag Base: Waxed Canvas or Lightweight Leather
Keep in mind, this is only one of my favorites! There is really no exact science to it. The only thing I recommend is staying away from lightweight fabric such as quilting cotton on the exterior bottom. This is a large bag, so it really needs the proper structure to look its best (Decovil Light is your friend on this one).
The tie closure is one of my favorite features on this bag! I love that it provides an opportunity to bring a pop of something special to each bag - either through color or texture. So many fabric combinations come to my mind each time I make one! Now, if a super cute fabric tie closure is not your thing (it was hard for me to even type that), you can simply omit the steps for the fabric ties. However, why do that when you can have the best of both worlds? See the Olivia bag below, made by Amber Botticello @laceandlion. In this beautiful version, Amber modified the construction of the two top ties to make one long tie that can be used as a purse scarf, or simply removed when going for a less dolled up look. Beautiful! Want to make a removable version of the tie? Scroll down to the next section to view a video tutorial.
Make a Removable Version of the Tie
If you would like to make a version of the tie that can be used as a purse scarf to decorate your bag and is removable, this video is for you!
Add an Additional Vinyl Zipper Pocket on the Interior
The Olivia is already loaded with pockets, but if you would like to add an additional large zipper pocket made with clear vinyl on the interior, I've got you covered! I used 12 gauge vinyl for this one because it is what I had on hand, but you can use whicherver weight you would like. I would imagine mesh could work for this pocket as well. Here is a quick video clip that will give you an idea of what the finished pocket will look like. If you are interested in adding this pocket to your Olivia, click here to view the full video tutorial.
In the pattern, you will find that the straps are cut from webbing. Feel free to make fabric straps, or you can substitute with leather or vinyl. However, since you will be sewing through numerous layers when going over the area with the doubled straps - please keep in mind what your specific sewing machine can handle when deciding on a substitute. I have no issues using my domestic machine to sew through all of the layers when using 4.5-5 oz leather straps combined with cotton webbing handles. However, test your machine! If you would like to use leather and have concerns about your machine, consider offsetting the straps and handles rather than layering them on top of one another. This would cut down on some of the bulk.
I work with some of the most amazing testers! They give the best advice, feedback, and honestly - I learn so much from them. Did I mention they make the most beautiful bags? Well, they do and I can tell you this...they are the best at curating incredible combinations for their bags. Continue reading and you will see exactly what I mean. ;)
Bobbi Sawyer (Instagram @daydreamseams)
Bobbi made this super cute version of the Olivia Carryall tote with heavy canvas on the exterior, a waterproof canvas lining, and a waxed canvas base. The use of these heavy materials (along with Decovil Light) gave Bobbi's bag great structure. And how do I feel about this combo?😍😍 I have to give kudos to Bobbi for this one! See more close-ups of Bobbi's marvelous bag below!
Jordan Porter (Instagram @jordanporter.handmade)
Jordan's Olivia bag was made with waxed corduroy on the exterior bottom, a pretty floral on top, and 1" will twill tape for the top ties. Can you say gorgeous?!!! Not to mention this absolutely stunning interior! We knew you would want to see more, so here you go...👇🏾
Amber Botticello (Instagram @laceandlion)
In addition to the gorgeous striped and floral bag shown earlier, Amber also made this brown and floral gem. In this version, she used waxed canvas on the exterior bottom, and it looks incredible. I cannot get enough of Amber's bags, so of course I posted more cute photos below!
Keleesha Marley (Instagram @marleysews)
Keleesha made this beauty, and I love it! On this bag, she used Lux Nylon from Wonder Ground Fabric, and only used interfacing on the cotton pieces. She omitted the top ties and used seatbelt webbing for her straps. I love the pops of color and the materials that she used for her bag. Beautiful! Click through for more photos and to get an idea of how large the Olivia bag really is!