This blog is for those of us girls (and guys) who love everything artsy and enjoy the challenge of discovering new and exciting ways of creating something wonderful. We do not discriminate against any artform but are willing to try them all and pass on our knowledge to you. In addition, we love to feature our ATA Girlz (and guys) so that those people who can't draw a straight line - but love unique and handmade items - can help support our wonderful friends. Visit often to discover what we're "playing" with next!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Inspired by Tohoku Totes: Dominque Santiago Designs

Introducing ATA Girl Dominque Santiago of DS Designs
Dominique is an artist with a sewing machine and material.  Everything she has shown me has been wonderful, so I asked if she would be interested in being one of our ATA Girls.  Once she stopped jumping up and down in excitement - I put her to work coming up with the following article and something to put in our ATA Girls store.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  In addition -some of her other projects have also included these wonderful items.  (I'm trying to convince her she needs to make some to put in the store.)

To reach Dominique - simply place comment on this article - or contact her directly at   For now - read on and get to know our newest ATA Girl!  ~    Dani

 The Tote

I fell in love with the Tohoku tote the first time I saw it.  I have made 5 versions of this tote using different fabrics and have a few more planned.  As a mom, it's a cute alternative for a "diaper bag" since my kids are getting older (only one left in diapers and hopefully not for long!).  I can fit a days worth of "stuff" including a diaper or two, snacks, my wallet, phone, camera (I never go too far without it), and even a water bottle.  Sometimes a toy car or dinosaur make it in there too - can you tell I have two boys?
Anyway, onto my version of the tote... 

There are a couple immediate differences I incorporated into the pattern - the most obvious includes replacing the bow with a flap.  This was strictly a personal preference.  I have nothing against bows.  This one is just a little to big for my taste and I think the flap gives it a little more security and dimension - and it was with the help of Dani that this was used instead.  THANKS Dani!!  I am, however, a HUGE fan of buttons, as you will see on most of my other projects.  I just love love love them!  So, the flap was a perfect spot to add one (or two) as an embellishment.  On some I also added a yo yo fabric flower underneath my button.  On others, I used a ribbon through the holes of a large button.  Therefore, I also put the same magnetic snap as in the tutorial on the flap instead of on the inside as shown in the original directions.

One of the things I discovered upon making totes and purses is that it is helpful to use a more sturdy fabric as the liner.  It is similar to canvas or twill and I found it at Joanne's in the utility section.  It is relatively inexpensive (and I will only buy it when on sale or with a coupon – or both).  The other difference, although pretty minor, is the addition of an extra pocket.  Perhaps the most important one, I made mine to perfectly fit my cell phone.  :)  The double pocket is perfect for the credit card wallet, lipstick or chapstick, keys, etc...

I use accent fabric on some of these totes that is recycled corduroy pants I found at Goodwill.  Lastly I also use interfacing as it is mentioned in the linked tutorial which adds yet another layer of “sturdiness”.  I added interfacing to the straps which is another change from the original. I found it helps stiffen them.

As for the credit card wallet, it is easy and I really didn't diverge from the tutorial linked here.  It is super quick and easy and I almost always include it with my totes or purses that I have given as gifts.  I love to use the button closure version (surprised?).  Personally, this is what I use to keep all my gift cards, that would normally get lost in my "regular" wallet.  I also use it to hold an id, a credit card or two and cash when I don't want to carry my full, bulky wallet on a night out.  It also holds wallet size photos (I may have one or two of these).  Lastly, this is perfect to put gift cards into when giving them as gifts to others since it adds a little personal touch to an impersonal type gift. 
Some of the other things I have made in the past include: pillow covers, valences, curtains, table cloths, a skirt, heating pads with matching storage bag, owls, penguins, whales, kids messenger bags, day purse, evening clutch, e-reader sleeve, fabric square storage bin, comforter covers, and roman shades. (Damn you Pinterest!)

A few projects on the horizon include, make up bags, more totes and purses (always coming up with new designs), lunch and snack bags, table runner, place mats, maybe a quilt and whatever else I can think of  to make!  I'm always open to ideas!!  I am happy that I will be able to feature a number of my new designs and projects in the ATA Girl store.

Here is the link to the blog with the pattern and detailed tutorial for the tote:


  1. Hi Diane,

    Wow, your handbags are gorgeous! I just love your tote with the inside pockets. Do you sell these on Etsy? This design would be adorable in a vintage floral pattern.

    1. Hi Donna. Thanks for stopping by. This handbag - and hopefully more items by Dominique - is available on our ATA Girl store on Store Envy - the link is at the top of our blog page.

  2. The handbag and other totes are really sweet. Thanks for sharing your tips. Look forward to other creations to come. Thanks for stopping in at Quirky Vistas and leaving me a comment. I'm so glad you came by because that's how I found your site!

  3. seriously love the tote and the journal

  4. I saw her work on her blog ... she does amazing work!!

  5. Hi there! I found you on the Blog Hop and am now following you :) I'd love a follow back at and Pinterest! I follow back all my Pinterest followers!

  6. I love this bag!!! I am a new follower from would love to see you there

  7. This is so adorable! I want this bag. I'm going to have to take a look at the tutorial. Lovin this

  8. These bags are really cute! I'm going to PIN them so I can find you again.

    I found you on the Friday Blog Hops Everyday linky - I'm definitely going to follow you here and FB too if you have a page. See ya there.

    Tina Peterson


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