Hidden Treasure Tote

Hidden Treasure Tote

I made this bag in 2015, my year of bag classes. The pattern is for a tote with an interior, smaller bag that can be removed and used as a little evening purse or as a quick errand purse. I took the class for this bag at The Presser Foot in Longmont, Colorado.

The bag is called Hidden Treasure Tote, by The Creative Thimble. In the photo of the pattern you can see the smaller bag, as well as the front and back of the tote itself. 

Picture of the pattern cover. You can buy the pattern from The Creative Thimble.


The Tote

So, for this bag, I tried using fabric that had touches of gold – so pretty! Here is the bag I made:

Front of my Hidden Treasure Tote
Close-up of exterior pockets and magnetic closure

As you can see, the Hidden Treasure Tote pattern calls for several different fabrics. These are quilting cottons fused with interfacing for strength. For the magnetic flap in front, I tried out a technique called “fussy cut”, which just means that you’ve deliberately positioned a specific piece of the fabric for the pattern you’re making over a particular area of print – in this case I wanted to center one of the pretty floral motifs on the flap. You use the same fabric to bind the flap as you do to edge and also line one side of the front exterior pockets. I found it difficult to sew the binding on that flap, but I think someone who quilts regularly would have an easier time of it.


Additionally, while the process of making the straps was about the same as making the straps on The Professional Tote, in this case the straps are attached by tabs and D-rings (rectangle rings, really). I also used a lighter interfacing, per the instructions, though if I were to make another one of these bags I think I’d use a bit heavier interfacing. I’ve found the straps crumple slightly more than I’d like with the lighter weight interfacing.

Back of my Hidden Treasure Tote
The Zippers!

The back shows the really neat zipper pockets on the Hidden Treasure Tote, which are meant to be a showy design feature. When I bought my supplies, I didn’t realize the zippers were meant to stand out. I started with all three zippers the same color, but I loved the look of the instructor’s demo bag with different zipper colors. So, I ended up exchanging two of my zippers for two others in different colors, right there on the spot. 

The three zippers each open into a pocket, each pockets slightly smaller than the one above. Each one has a very light interfacing for the lining, to add a bit of strength and structure. I added some fusible fleece to the lining for the bottom pocket, to give a little extra cushioning for my cell phone. I would do that again.

Attaching the zippers

Our instructor also had us a use a little trick for attaching the zippers, a technique that we’ve used on other bags with a similar zipper insert process. For the zipper insert process for the back of the Hidden Treasure Tote,  you make the zipper openings first and then attach the zippers from the back. In this method, usually the zippers wiggle around while you sew and the pins really get in the way! Our teacher had us baste (or large stitch) each zipper onto a very light piece of tearaway stabilizer, like what is used in machine embroidery. Once the zipper is attached to that stabilizer,  you can pin the heck out of the stabilizer to the zipper openings without the pins getting too close to your presser foot and needle. 

Presser feet

For the stitching on this bag, I used a zipper foot for the zippers, and for everything else I used an edgestitch foot that I used to either stitch-in-the-ditch, or else I moved the needle over for topstitching. I found that stitching around the rectangle rings is not easy. I experimented with using both a zipper foot and the edgestitch foot around the rings and I can’t say I found one easier than the other. It’s just a fussy bit to sew.

Inside of my Hidden Treasure Tote
Inside the tote

You can see in the photo that I used the fussy cut technique again on the underside of the magnetic flap. Also note the two inside open pockets, which are reinforced with interfacing, and the attached smaller bag. For the inside pockets, I did the pockets about the same size. Really, that is a large pocket piece that you sew into the lining, and you make the pocket division with a stitched down seam. Before I sewed down the divider seam, I first tested out my pockets with things I thought I might want to put in them. You could divide the pockets into any proportion that works best for you.

The smaller purse attaches into the larger bag by velcro, the idea being that you keep your wallet and maybe some lip balm and keys in that small purse like it’s a pocket, but then you can easily remove it for a quick trip out.

The Hidden Treasure

Here are pictures of the smaller bag:

Smaller bag – the velcro strip is on the under side of the flap


Inside of the smaller bag



Open pocket side of the smaller bag









As you can see, this little bag has an exterior open pocket with a bit of exposed lining on one side. The interior of the bag also has its own little pocket. For awhile, I used the just main tote as my every day purse, without the smaller bag. I added the smaller bag back in on a few different trips. Then I used the smaller bag (the hidden treasure!) as a day purse and leave the larger tote back in the hotel room. A few times I’ve used the smaller interior bag as a conveniently sized dressy-casual evening purse at local places.


At this point, my larger bag of my Hidden Treasure Tote looks more visibly worn than my smaller bag. I found I just used the larger one so much more. I thought I wouldn’t use this bag as much as I did because the top is open rather than zipped, but for around town it worked fine. It even came in handy for sticking in a travel mug or water bottle without fully opening the flap. I’ve successfully washed it and let it air dry, and sometimes I’ll still pull out the smaller bag, which I’m now trying to keep looking fresh so I can keep using it for dressy casual evenings out. I would make this bag again!

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