Saturday, August 24, 2013


Guess I'm a glutton for punishment...............

This is the second Amy Butler Weekender Bag that I have made.  Let me tell you, THIS one came together SO much easier than the first!  I didn't bend any pins, didn't stick myself, didn't break any needles and didn't have to rip out or restitch any areas!  I like the look of the fabric collage I have seen on several websites, but I didn't want to "quilt" mine. I went with the "collage" look but still used the Peltex and interfacing.  I did make a couple of changes to this one.  First I added 4" to each strap so my daughter can slip the straps easily on her shoulders.  I see where some people have made the straps wider.  Instead of cutting the fabric 3" wide, I cut mine 3 1/2" wide.  Just a little bit wider, but still in scale with the rest of the bag.  I used 5/32" cotton piping. It was a lot easier to manipulate.   I used the correct weight interfacing for the zipper area which made it 100% easier to put together!  Last time I used a heavyweight interfacing.  I haven't added the lining yet, I'll post pics when I'm completely finished. (That's my least favorite part.)  All in all, this was a very enjoyable project and I hope my daughter likes it!

Monday, August 12, 2013

AMY BUTLER SOPHIA BAG - visual tips and tutorial

This bag was a pleasure to make!  The pattern was exact, easy to follow and I even learned a few new techniques.

Since I finished my Amy Butler Weekender bag a few weeks ago, I have been wanting to make the Sophia Bag.  My local fabric store didn't have the pattern so I ordered it from and it arrived in 3 days!  After the Weekender bag, I felt like I could tackle anything.  

I did learn how to add pockets to the interior lining, how to join piping almost seamlessly, and how to add "X" for extra support on the handles.

I love Anna Maria Horner fabrics and I saved the scraps from other projects that I have made using her fabrics.  I love the "Drawing Room" collection Volumes pattern but I didn't have enough for the whole bag so I used every scrap of Anna Maria Horner fabric that I had.  You'll see later in the lining!  The piping fabric is an old Debbie Mumm fabric that I've had in my stash for about 10 years.

I love the way it turned out!

Exterior panels cut out.....

Handles attached..........

Here is a close-up of the "X" extra support on the handles.

If you've never made piping before it is really easy to make with a zipper foot.  I always use fabric on the bias which stretches around the curves.  If you look closely at the needle position you can see I am sewing close to the piping just enough to push it over a little and stitch inside the previous stitching line.

Some of the instructions I had to read and reread!  Below I am adding piping to the bottom panel.  The drawings in the instructions made it look like you were to cut a square at the corner of the piping.  But I followed the directions and cut a little slit with my scissors and when you turn the piping to attach to the short end, a little square opens up.  It turned out perfect!  I am such a visual learner.......I like to see things.   I thought this might help someone else if you are going to make this bag.

 Also, I usually join two ends of piping by just lapping one over the other.  But, the directions show you how to cut the piping, putting edge to edge, fold under the hem and then wrap the fabric over the two edges making a nice and neat seam.

When sewing the zipper, the instructions call for you to baste the seam, line the zipper under the seam and sew 1/4" around the zipper on top.  I outlined the 1/4" seam with a washable pen which makes it very easy to see where you are supposed to sew.  Remember, the zipper is UNDER that seam!

Whew.........after several hours of sewing my sweet husband brought me a Black Cherry Mister Misty from QT.  They always come in handy and make sewing a whole lot more enjoyable!

This is what the bag looks like when you add the top panel to the first side panel.

I have added both side panels to the the zippered top panel.  At this point, I thought it was looking like a toaster cover or an old fashioned bowling bag.  I do like the retro rounded shape!

Below I am sewing the bottom panel to the bag.  I have already sewn the long sides and now I am sewing the short sides.  You can see how the bag piping lines up just inside of the bottom panel piping. I sewed a 1/2" seam and it turned out perfectly.

Also, while reading the instructions, I couldn't figure out how to clip the corners.  But, when you sew all the layers together, it is easy to see where to snip off the corner.

Bag the lining...........

I used up all of my favorite Anna Maria Horner scraps for the lining.  The lining is my least favorite part to make because of all of the hand sewing but I'm glad I took my time because it turned out perfect.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I really love this bag!  It was fun to make.  It was kind of like birthing a baby.  Now that the "birthing" process is over, you forget how painful it was!  And you have this gorgeous bundle to show off.

 I really love this bag!  Oh, yea, I mentioned that already.  One reason is that it reminds me of a yellow Samsonite overnight bag I had back in the 1970's.  I took this bag to college with me.

I think I am one of the last to jump on the Amy Butler Weekender Bag band wagon.  I've had this pattern for 3 years, the fabric for two years.  I even had the pieces cut out!  I was so intimidated by the pattern after reading all of the tutorials online and the horror stories that this project just sat in the corner of my studio, calling out "make me" every few months.  I meant to make it for our trip to Jekyll Island 2 years ago.  Then, I really wanted to take it to Orange Beach last summer.  Well, I'm glad to say, that it will be ready for our trip to Orange Beach this summer!  I got up my courage, read and reread all of the tips and jumped right in.

I've read a lot of posts where people complain about the cost of this bag and how long it took them to cut out all of the pieces.  Well you can look at it this way, if you wait 3 years to make your bag, it will already be paid for and it's nice to start on a project where you can't remember what a pain it was to cut out all the pieces!

I was an art major and have always been a visual learner.  I took a lot of photos of this process, ones that I have not seen on other sites.  I wanted to document the good and the bad.  I've never made a BIG bag like this monster before, so I really wasn't sure what some of the steps involved.  I had to read and reread the directions.

I am using my very old Bernina 1130 that I got way back in 1983.  I love it and it runs like a charm.  It can even sew through 12 layers of fabric.  Let's see what it can do.  

I really like stitching my own cording.  The directions tell you not to stitch too close to the cord, leaving room to restitch closer when the panels are added.  I saw where some people used store bought cording or used Stitch Witchery. This cording since it will be attached around corners, etc. is purposely cut on the bias (which stretches).  When I stitched mine onto the front of the panels, I pulled it a little to make it stretch while I was sewing.  That will make a nice tight fit.  Sometimes, if you don't stretch, it will buckle a little.   I like the look of handmade cording but the next bag I make (I must have a death wish!) I will use a smaller diameter cording.  In Step 11, I didn't have room to stitch the 1/2" seam around the panels..........

I like to use pins........lots of pins.  Here I am sewing the cording on the large front pocket.  I know it looks like overkill, but I've made enough pockets where I didn't pin all around, then the fabric slipped leaving the pocket uneven.

There were so many horrifying stories of people sewing through their fingers, pin stabs, and punctures that I thought I was doing pretty well, until a pin poked me leaving my DNA on the fabric.  That's when I take a break and chill.  Start again the next day.

I didn't make too many changes on this bag.  One change I made on the straps was to do a double topstitching instead of single.

Here is the front panel with pocket in place and straps being stitched.  Looking pretty good.  So far no broken needles, only 1 pin stick.  I did use jeans needles and made sure I had a brand new sharp needle at the beginning of the project.

This Walking Foot really helped when stitching through multiple layers.  I thought I would be able to use it more, but really I used the Zipper foot most of the time because you have to stitch so dang close to the cording.  When stitching straight lines (without cording) the Walking Foot saves you a lot of screaming and ripping because it hugs those lower layers and keeps them all lined up neatly.

Here I am stitching the cording all around the front panel using the Zipper foot.  I found it easier to use short sturdy pins. None of these pins bent.  I started out using the longer pins with the yellow tips, and they all bent.  I stitched close to the cording but not as close as I could have knowing that I still have to stitch another line next to it when adding the center panel.

OK, this is the front panel completed.

The directions call for 3 layers of fusible interfacing added to the center panels.  By the time I ironed all the interfacing in place, it looked like craft foam! I couldn't imagine how I was going to press the seams open.  This is where you add the zipper.  I've never inserted a zipper in this manner before where you stitch a seam, add the zipper, flip upside down and stitch around the zipper, then use the seam ripper to open the seam above the zipper.

Here is the seam, pressed open, zipper pinned in place.

Next you flip the whole piece upside down, remember the zipper and pins are on the BOTTOM!  I marked my 1/4" seam and started stitching.

Then you just use a seam ripper and open the seam...........leaving a perfectly sewn zipper.  Honestly, this was one of my biggest fears...............sewing a zipper in this bag.  But the directions were perfect and the zipper came out looking outstanding.  Patting myself on the back.

This is my Edgestitch Foot which helps to stitch a perfect topstitch below the cording on the pocket.  I just move my needle position to the left or right. I am making the smaller side pockets here which are attached to the bottom of the center panel.  I did add cording to the top of these pockets which wasn't called for in the pattern'

This is what the center panel looks like stitched to the bottom panel.  There are pockets sewn at the bottom of the side panels.  You can see the interfacing is not stitched on one side of the bottom panel so you can slip the Peltex bottom in later.

One side panel stitched to the center panel and another one pinned in place.  The smaller pins stayed in place better for me instead of the clips that other people used.

This is the dreaded Step 11 where I'm trying to stitch the bottom panel to the center panel and it seems like I have to stitch through about 32 layers!  Everything was going OK up until now.  I thought, wow, this isn't so bad.  What are other people talking about?  I can do this.  But, wowzers, this was really frustrating because the Peltex was so hard to bend and get everything under the needle in the right position.  It kept popping out.  You just have to go with it.  I only screamed one expletive!  But no broken needles!

OK, I haven't seen too many mistakes shown in other posts, but I wanted to show you what can happen.  The layers are so darn thick and you are pressing so hard to just feel the cording underneath that I didn't get all of the layers stitched in the seam.  That was the end of that night. I was so frustrated that I went to bed, thinking that I would need to rip out the whole panel and start over.  But....

I tried sewing another seam all the way around the panel, pushing as close as I could to the cording.  It worked!  So, if at first you don't succeed, try stitching around and around again until you get it as close to the cording as you can.  I'm satisfied!

You can see the edge of the Peltex under the fusible interfacing.  The Peltex is so stiff and thick that it is hard to get the zipper foot close enough to the cording.  You can see how I have stitched two times, closer each time to the cording .  I think the next time I make this bag I will use a smaller cording which will give me more room to sew even closer to the piping.  As it is,  my zipper foot kept slipping off.

And finally I get to start on the lining.  I've never made a bag like this before and wasn't familiar with how to sew in a lining.  It took me a long time to figure it out, after reading over and over the directions.
Here, I am tacking the lining to the underneath panels and then slipstitching the lining close to the zipper.

Here it is, finally finished.  I can't wait to use it next weekend!