A Great Pattern Duo for Beginning Bagmakers - The Cici Tote and Cici Too

Lisa Stewart beginner friendly Cici Too Cici Tote Bag cosmetic bag tote bag

Recently Patricia and I were working on a project for the American Sewing Guild (ASG) highlighting The Cici Tote Bag and The Cici Too Cosmetic Bag. As I searched through the archives of blog posts for some photos of combinations that testers had made, I realized just how much the two patterns have been mentioned and how "beginner perfect" they truly are. 


Combo by Zeiba Monod of Sew Special by ZM

When I first made a bag, I waded in with no knowledge of bagmaking. Garment making, quilting, and home decor sewing did not prepare me for the new terminology, fabrics and stabilizers, or techniques. And I was totally new to PDF patterns and assembling them. 

A good place to start is with Beginning Bagmaking Without Tears*. If you're comfortable with a sewing machine and the necessary tools, then you should be ready to get started. Note that many of the pictures featured below are by Facebook Pattern Group members and was their first bag.

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Let's take a look at The Cici Too Cosmetic Bag.

Cici Too Cosmetic Bag by Sandie Gallagher

Basically, with this pattern you're dipping your toe into the bag-making pool. Things you'll learn:

  • Downloading, printing and following a PDF bag pattern*
  • Getting familiar with bagmaking terminology and techniques*
  • Applying interfacing*
  • Using vinyl, faux leather, or cork* 
  • Applying an overlay and top-stitching*
  • Inserting a zipper with tab ends and top-stitching*
  • Sewing a slip pocket*
  • Adding a lining
  • Boxing corners
  • And "birthing" your bag
  • Pressing for a beautiful finish*

And in about 90 minutes (with your first go round) you've got a finished bag!

Combo in canvas and cork by Josette Skilling

The Cici Tote Bag is then a natural step up to practice the skills you learned with the cosmetic bag. You're working on a larger scale and you'll add a few new skills. In addition to those listed above, you'll be:

  • Attaching a bottom to the overlays
  • Adding purse feet
  • Adding a recessed zipper*
  • Adding a zipper pocket to the lining*
  • Making a divided slip pocket*
  • Making two types of strap connectors and adding hardware.
  • Making a shoulder strap*
  • Making an adjustable strap and adding the appropriate hardware*

In Harris Tweed by Karen Shaver

Both patterns have clear instructions and photos of each step. The additional tutorials and articles have details and techniques along with photos. And for those of you that are really visual learners and like to see someone actually making a bag, SiahSwag has a video sew-along* in our library. 

Beautiful fabric combo by Mary Lynn Curatolo Marcolina

After you've mastered both patterns, take it up a notch. We have a PDF add-on* for a variety of exterior and interior pockets and a key holder for The Cici Tote Bag. 

Cici Tote Bag pocket modifications by Lisa Stewart

With these add-ons, you can enhance the classic style of the bag, or make a more casual version as a beach bag*, picnic bag, or diaper bag*.

Cici Tote Bag by Patricia Maxey

Some makers have even used it for a child's overnight bag, with the accompanying cosmetic bag for toothbrushes, etc. And we have seen the tote bag made with foam to use as a laptop bag. The shoulder straps could be shortened to handles.

Now, take a look at all the tutorials and articles that can help you finesse your first attempt at bagmaking. And if you're still stumped, email Patricia at info@kayapapayadesign.com - or join the Facebook Pattern Group (see the details at the end). 

Tools and Techniques:

Your Bag Making Tool Kit - Part One

Your Bag Making Tool Kit - Part Two

Your Bag Making Tool Kit - Part Three

Beginning Bag Making Without Tears

Stabilizers and Interfacings

Fabric and Hardware:

Cork Fabric

Vinyl and Faux Leather

Slip Pockets


Purse Labels

Skill Building and Add-ons

Adjustable Strap

Cici Tote Bag Add-ons


Just look at how much this duo holds!

Such a variety of Cici Tote Bags

See all the tester's different makes



Katie Hansen's all vinyl beauty


 Whether you are a beginner or an expert bag maker, we'd love to have you join our Facebook Pattern Group. Ask questions, give guidance and encouragement, share your makes, and join in the conversation.

Please feel free to comment, but be aware that Shopify doesn't offer a way for us to respond. If you have any questions email us at info@kayapapayadesign.com.
We'd love to hear from you! 


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