Blogathon Part 3: Tote-oromi

10 Sep / by: M&R / 9 comments / tags :

For those of you just joining us on our quest for daily blog posts so as to show up our usually abysmal posting statistics, you can find part 0, part 1 and part 2 via those links.

Yesterday, we introduced you to the crazy world of Office Yeti, our next next game, which will be released after Robotology (our next game). We hope you enjoyed your brief stay there — a more in-depth look is on its way.

We also tried to imply that we do spend some time on more than just games. Now, we know you’re used to seeing game- and dev-related posts on this blog, but we’re going change it up a bit and switch gears before we conclude our daily blog-posting extravaganza; let’s hope you sharpened those link-finding skills back in Blogathon post 1 — you’re gonna need ’em!


At long last, there’s new stuff in the Metanet handmade merch shop! Can you believe it?

Long ago, when we had some extra time in the evenings, we spent some of it devising and constructing simple but fantastic tote bags. We currently use the prototypes for books, food, sundries and what have you. Very durable, very cool. Check ’em out!

(Note that the contrast between fabric and ink is always fairly stark — differences in the photos in our Etsy shop and the how-to below are purely because of unusual lighting and the therefore necessary screwing-around in Photoshop. Sorry, we’re n00bs!)


Something we like to do here at Metanet is to try to be creative in non-computer-related ways such as making music, making short films and making handmade merch — it takes the edge off coding all day and keeps us motivated to get back. To give some insight into what we do when we’re not making games, playing games or hanging out with Socialites, indies and other Toronto friends, here’s a brief look at how we made the fabulous Metanet tote bags, in 15 Steps of Varying Difficulty.


  1. Let’s start with the Metanet logo patches. To make the screen, we used the incredible Print Gocco, a Japanese screen-printing machine we bought in Japan on our first trip. It’s regrettably no longer being produced; supplies are scarce, and each print makes us appreciate how cool it is even more. Here’s an action shot of Mare burning a screen. SO COOL. This is the screen. It’s transparent where the ink comes through, obviously.

  3. We cut out pieces of fabric to print on, and printed the image using black screenprinting ink and a squeegee (really, we’re using a chef’s plastic scraper thingy from a kitchen store. Works just as well!).

    We’re going for a distressed/deliberately messy effect, so even minor misprints are okay. Interestingly, that eliminates a lot of stress, which leads to better prints. Win-win!

    After removing the screen, you’re left with glistening, clean lines and a strong sense of satisfaction. Let’s take a closer look at that delicious print. It’s even cooler in person.


  5. We repeated the previous step approximately one billion times, on various pieces of fabric. Gotta use that screen while it’s wet!

  7. Next we trim the excess fabric. Over and over. Again, the deliberately messy aesthetic we’re going for means we don’t have to worry about perfectly straight cuts. Nice!

  9. And now on to the bag itself. Washing, drying, and ironing fabric is the first step. Or series of steps, really. We used various weights, colours and prints of cotton canvas for durability and variety.

  11. We cut out fabric based on a pattern and with the help of some rocks (nature’s fabric weights). The bags are unlined, so only one piece is necessary. Our pattern has gone through several revisions as you can see by the masking tape!

  13. We painstakingly measured and cut black webbing for each bag’s handles. We bought webbing in bulk because it is cheaper that way, and more awesome. That roll was twice as big when we started this project, and was oodles of fun to roll around the office. We got two and raced ’em. When you’re working with nylon or poly webbing, don’t forget to melt the cut ends so they won’t unravel.

  15. Here we are sewing a Metanet logo patch to bag fabric. Fraying of the patch’s edges suits the style we’re going for, so turning the edges under isn’t required. By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a savings.

  17. Next, we iron the patch to make it sit smooth and flat, and additionally to further set the ink. This may seem superfluous, but it’s the little details that make these bags special.

  19. We sew the side seams right-side-out first, then iron and sew the sides again with the bag turned inside out. Why? French seams, bitches! French seams are very strong, plus they conceal the cut edges of the fabric on both sides of the bag, so the seams will look neat and won’t fray or fall apart. French seams: another innovation brought to you by Metanet Software.

  21. While the bag is inside out, it’s a good time to fold the bottom edges into corners. Then we measure and sew them down. Et voila, a simple square gusset that will enable the bag to, for example, hold several textbooks side by side.

  23. Next we iron the top hem. Ironing is essential for easy sewing later on.

  25. The handles are then positioned and pinned, making sure they match up.

  27. Almost there. The top hem is next. French seams in cotton canvas can be tough for domestic machines so we mainly avoided them; we invested in more horsepower for the MKII totes for a different sort of finishing. Not to worry, several from the MKI run have been in use for a year now and are holding up impeccably.

  29. Finally, we hand-drew some fancy logos on the tag, trimmed, and marvelled at each finished Metanet tote bag.


From step 6 on, each bag takes about 30 minutes to put together. Not too shabby! And as for the bags themselves, well they’re not shabby at all. Except the logo patches, but it’s a controlled shabby 🙂 Here’s another bag Mare made for herself using a slightly different technique. Yes, it’s just that fun to make tote bags. Who knows, maybe this will inspire you, brave reader, to get crafty too.


Tomorrow will probably be the final daily post — we’re starting to run out of material! Yes, that was a craft-related pun.

Hopefully this brief spate of posts will get us back in the habit of posting more frequently than once every two months — it definitely reminded us how fun it is to write. We’re really excited about writing up tutorials on some of the stuff we’ve been working on for Robotology; sadly we need to finish the actual game first, and a lot remains to be done on that front.

Was the previous sentence an example of foreshadowing?! Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of The Blogathon.

comments ( 9 )

  • I actually printed a couple hundred t-shirts in high school using a larger version of what you did here to print the metanet logo. (The screens were about 16″x22″ if I had to guess) We had a spinny apparatus with 4 clamps for individual screens at the 90 degree that were adjustable so you could turn the whole thing to print 4 different colors. Most of the t-shirts were printed as a fund-raiser for the industrial tech department/club. I still have and wear 3 of the shirts I printed 😀 (I’m not sure if this is any sort of common any more, so if I just described something you are aware of in detail, sorry for wasting your time!)

  • @smartalco: wow, that rocks! Sounds like a 4 colour press? We’ve got a couple of build-your-own tutorials bookmarked. Also, everyone should check out Shannon Gerard’s awesome silk screening tutorial:

    The main problem for us regarding the “real” method of silkscreening is that is messier and requires more space (and a darkroom) — these things are at the moment unavailable. The nice thing about the Print Gocco is that it’s very neat and tidy, and compact. The tradeoff is that the printsize is on the small side: max size is post card sized. But it’s awesome, so we’re okay with that for now 😀

  • It sounds pretty handy.
    Are you aware of anything that functions similarly and is still produced?

  • There’s a new American product unfortunately named “Yudu” that came out last year which apparently serves a similar function; we may check it out when our stash of Print Gocco supplies runs out. That could be a while though, we’ve got a pretty decent stockpile 😀

  • […] you’ve come to expect. If you’re just tuning into this blogstravaganza, here are some links you might want to check […]

  • Great job, guys! Maybe you should make some with pictures of N jumping up, and the robotology guy doing whatever-he-does.

    You guys should talk to a factory. I would love to buy LOTS of them soon. Perhaps sell a kit to make them on your own(?) Owell. Nice job, guys. I look forward to your future outlooks!

  • @Malde: Thanks for your suggestions! We’ve definitely got really fun things planned for when Robotology and Office Yeti come out 😀

    As for working with a factory, right now we feel that making things ourselves is part of what makes them special. It’s something we’ll look into for the future, but right now handmade merch just feels right.

  • Ooh, that looks like a fun project. It’s fun hearing about what you two are up to, I always like your blog posts.

  • On Wondermark’s blog ( he mentions the Gocco print thing, and that there is a DIY solution to the lack of new screens. I can look that up again and post the permalink.

Leave a reply