This week has been taken up with a sort of flash of momentary madness! Making an 'Amy Butler Weekender Bag'. I confess at times I really thought it was madness to attempt such a thing - but I got there in the end and I only wish I could attach fireworks to this blog in celebration. I am so thrilled with it... I just cannot tell you.... well, maybe I can......
It all started way back in the summer when I saw this picture on Instagram
Made by Chrissy at Sewlux for Camille at Thimbleblossoms - I thought it was just absolutely fab. I took a screen shot and kept it in my 'to do' file. Chrissy had posted alot of stuff on her blog about making it and this gave me the confidence to have a go. With all her tips and ideas, it seemed manageable. As the weeks went by it sort of nagged away in the back of my mind and I started assembling what was needed to make this. The final push to get on with it came because I joined the local gym, which also has a lovely swimming pool and I needed a bag to carry all my clobber in and this seemed perfect. So first up - the pattern:
I love Amy Butler fabrics, but this is the first pattern I have bought. When you first open it, the instructions seem a bit daunting - there are alot. I am not an experienced dressmaker and just about all the things I work on are flat peices of material, so constructing a dimensional item seemed a bit scary. I would say that you need to read and re-read the whole thing before you begin to get an idea of how it all goes. Read Chrissy's July blog posts at 'Sewlux' too as this will help enormously.
Having decided to do all the mini patchwork pockets, I bought downloadable pdf's of Thimbleblossoms mini swoon and mini puddle jumping patterns and set to work to make the pockets. This was faffy and a bit frustrating at times as the peices are very small. Spray starching was essential to keep them straight and firm to sew.
It took me a day or two to put all four pockets together and cut out the other main pattern pieces for the exterior and lining of the bag.
I think using dark fabrics for the borders is not a bad idea to frame everything and actually probably dark fabrics don't show the dirt too. I decided not to quilt my pattern pieces using batting, but stuck to the pattern and used heavy weight (fusible on one side) interfacing to stabilise the bag. I did stitch the interfacing to the pockets by stitching some straight lines down the patchwork blocks, but it doesn't give a quilted effect. Also, having never made piping before, I chose to use a traditional quilt binding technique for the pocket tops. The piping thing was totally new to me and somehow I think I should have practiced a bit.
In assembling the bag you need the 3 C's 'Chocolate, Chardonnay and Courage' but perhaps most of all GO SLOW. Read, re-read and take your time. Stitching the zip in was super easy as you put it in before constructing the bag. Stitching the side panels to the top and bottom (which you construct in a giant ring) was NOT EASY. I think it's essential to cut away the interfacing so it doesn't interfere with the seams which are bulky enough with the piping as well. It is very important to stitch right up to the piping which I didn't really get at first and had to re-stitch in parts. The second side is harder to stitch than the first because it is more difficult to manoevre in the sewing machine and keep the nice curved shape. As Chrissy points out in her blog - use a jeans needle - this is mega important to help your machine get through the layers.
Once you get this done, you are pretty much there. Turn your bag inside out and breathe.......
The lining was simple enough and I top stitched all around the zip by hand - it was a pleasure...I always feel more in control when the needle is in my hand and not a metal vice!! The false bottom suggested in the pattern is a good idea too as it holds any bulk in the lining firm. I am going to buy some of those small feet though to put on the bottom of the bag to help protect the base.
I wouldn't say this was an easy make. I guess it just depends on how much sewing experience you have and probably I was a little out of my depth - but... I learned so much and if I was to make another one again I am sure it would be a whole lot easier.
So who is going to be the coolest girl at the Gym?!?!?!?!?