About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Amy Butler's Betty Shopper Bag

I have promised my daughter a big baby/diaper bag since before Miss Scarlett was born and in this last month I finally had time to make one.

I have the usual collection of bag patterns but decided I needed something hipper than my Kwik Sew totes, given the clientele, so I decided that I would try Amy Butler's biggest bag.

It was a very interesting experience.

First off Amy has written the instructions for her clientele who are young woman with next to no sewing experience. As a result the instructions are highly detailed and for a new sewer would be quite useful. In some places.

On the other hand I think that Ms. Butler is a great designer and having come up with a beautiful profile for a very large and useful bag she must have thought "gee I need to add some value to this pattern" so put in a very complicated partition to divide it up on the inside which really, in my opinion, is about ten times more work than the basic bag itself. Needless to say I dispensed with this partition thing when I had to read the directions for this detail five times before I even remotely had any idea what was going on.

This one feature would be too much for a beginning sewer and really should have been left as an option or with a better description of what it was supposed to be, or in the end look like.

The other feature that I thought was strange about this pattern was that it called for four large grommets (which with tool would be pretty expensive) to be applied and for the straps to be put through them and knotted to secure. Not a bad idea in itself but I suspected that this was to get around the fact that many new sewers could have trouble sewing through the multiple layers of a strap (there is a lot of interfacing involved here - quite a complicated supply list) and not because it was the best sturdy strap idea.

I suspect this was the logic but I don't know, asking a young sewer or even an old one like me to cut large holes in a finished bag moves it right past the easy project stage.

Since I am in love with the slickness of those plastic Jo-Ann drapery rings (see burlap curtains) and since they also come in a smaller size and are pretty cheap that's what I used instead, with less trauma. I did find though that the knotted strap didn't work very well, in fact the knot kept pulling through, and if there had been anything really heavy in the bag for sure this would have happened, so I made a double knot, which looked messy and by then the straps were far too short to put over my shoulder - and I figure that anyone who is going to want to have a bag that is really big enough to transport a sleeping bag in, or as my husband said is big enough to carry the baby, is going to have their hands full and need to get that bag over her shoulder.

So I undid the knots and looped the straps through stitched them down and was very happy with the results.

BTW rather than getting all stressed out about trying to find the right interfacing just underline the pattern pieces with a firm thin poly quilt batting. This is a Nancy Zeiman idea and works very well, is a material easy to source, and is easy to sew through while delivering fine body to the final bag.

Final verdict, this is a great big, sharp, cool bag and worth the price of the pattern just for the shape. And it is a very smart shape, super wide at the bottom and narrow at the top so all the stuff you have stuffed into this bag won't fall out.

I made the polka dotted version here for my daughter, and she loves it, and red one for myself out of some water resistant rainwear fabric that now means I will only be making a rain jacket and not a red raincoat this fall.

Oh, and the instructions don't tell you to bag the lining and that really is a better method for getting the lining in this bag (I just left a hole in one lining side seam for turning and stitched it up afterwards) than pressing under the raw edges of both the outer shell and lining, which of course you know would just shift when you stitched it together and be all messy looking.

Wonderful pattern, if you have any sewing experience you definitely can put it together better using common sense than by following the instructions, which a sewing friend of mine frequently refers to as the destructions.

No comments: