If you saw this post, you will know that I planned to make the Explorer Tote by Noodlehead this month. So I have finished it – YAY – and oh my god I love it so much. I had never made a bag previously to this, so it was really fun to learn lots of new skills. Without further ado, here it is:


Anyway, I promised you that I would write a full review of the pattern, and I have got SO MUCH to say, so grab yourself a cup of tea and lets get started.


At the beginning of the pattern, there is a list of supplies required for your bag. Initially I was rather intimidated by this, as I had never heard of some of them. However, after reading some wonderful blogs and doing a tad of internet research, I sourced everything I needed. Anna (Noodlehead) uses Pellon interfacing in her bags, a brand that is very popular and easy to get hold of in the US, however I struggled to get hold of it here in the UK. I ordered mine from a great online shop called ‘Sew Hot’ and I would highly recommend that if you are looking for American sewing brands. If you don’t want to use Pellon, I did find this conversion chart which will help you to choose Vilene equivalents. If you want to see the supplies I purchased, head over to this post.


Having only ever sewn up dressmaking patterns, I have always been used to having the pattern pieces to be included in the pattern. However, when it comes to bags and quilts, I have since learned that this is not always the case. In this pattern you need to draw out all of your pattern pieces (except one which is provided) but don’t fear! They are all rectangular shapes – you aren’t expected to go and draw complicated curves and things. I chose to use this dot + cross pattern paper to draw out mine, as I found it to be much easier than trying to ensure my rectangles were perfect on blank paper.

Next up I cut out all of my pattern pieces using a cutting mat + rotary cutter. Anna includes a sheet of labels that you cut out and attach to each of your fabric pattern pieces so that you can distinguish between them later on – I think this is a really good idea and a nice addition to the pattern.


The instructions were faultless. I didn’t struggle at all with the instructions when putting this together, resulting in an incredibly enjoyable make. Oh and another bonus? No fitting issues! The fabulous thing about bag making is that you don’t need to worry about it fitting your body.


  1. I had never before installed a turn lock, so I used this tutorial which was very straightforward. I would recommend it to any other turn lock novices out there!
  2. Leather straps – they’re a pain to install! Unless you have a heavy duty machine and the right equipment, I would go ahead and make your own fabric straps. My machine really struggled.
  3. When you’re installing your turn lock, you will have some raw edges exposed. I used this glue to prevent fraying. However I would just like to mention that the glue does change the colour of the fabric very slightly, so try not to get it on any other areas of your bag!
  4. I used antique brass hardware on my bag, so obviously I wanted to make sure that my zip was also antique brass. The pattern doesn’t specify whether you need a closed end or an open ended zip, so I just assumed it would be a closed ended. Trying to find a 20 inch antique brass closed ended zip was like trying to find an invisible spoon – bloody impossible! After a lot of  stress, I messaged Anna and she told me that you can use either open or closed. WOOHOO! Antique brass OPEN-ended zips are very easy to find. I just wanted to let you guys know! Oh, and I used a 22 inch (not a 20 inch as described), and it still worked fine :).
  5. I installed a rivet on my bag. This tutorial was super helpful.
  6. Anna includes some tips for installing waxed canvas, which were helpful. She suggested finger pressing the seams (rather than ironing), however I thought I knew better and ironed it anyway. Bad decision. The wax on the fabric of my bag flap melted off which resulted in a lighter coloured flap! I completely remade the flap in the end (which was annoying).

Anyway, that’s it for today! Sorry for rambling on, but I just want to give you lots of detail to help you if you decide to make this gorgeous bag.

I would 100% recommend this pattern, and I cannot wait to have a go at my next Noodlehead sewing pattern!




Hollie x


  1. 12th February 2017 / 9:24 am

    Gorgeous, gorgeous bag Hollie. x

  2. Jo Navin
    23rd February 2017 / 5:10 pm

    Hi, thanks for replying to my comment on YouTube, I can’t seem to work out how to reply over there! Oh I’d be too shy to do a video too, maybe she’d have the confidence if you did it with her? Thank you for all the fab research you’ve shared on your bag, Jo xx

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