Thursday, December 9, 2010
A couple weeks ago I got Amy Butler's Style Stitches book for my birthday. I previously mentioned that one of my bloggy friends, Bree, will be hosting a sew-along for this book after the holidays (there's 12 bags in the book, so I'm assuming she's going to do one for each month of the year). I was sort of pulling at the bit, so I started the first bag in the book, the Cosmo bag.
The Cosmo bag is a wonderful project. I felt completely comfortable putting it together, and it really is a great way to show off any fabric, but in particular a large-scale print like the one that I used. I was going to give this bag as a Christmas gift, but now I don't know...I'm starting to love it.
Fabric - I used Anna Maria Horner's Pressed Flowers in gold for the outside of the bag. The pattern instructions called for 1-3/8 yard, but I made it work with 1 yard. I did fussy-cut the pieces for the front of the bag as I wanted the medallions to be centered on both sides. For the straps I used a hot pink fabric that I had leftover from some project, and for the exterior I used a decor-weight navy fabric with white polka dots that I got on clearance from Joann's at $1 per yard. The entire bag is interfaced, so you're also going to need a lot of woven interfacing (although I didn't quite need as much as was called for). The pink fabric that I used for the straps was quite thin, and I didn't want my straps to be like spaghetti, so instead of the woven interfacing, I used fusible fleece.
Pattern Pieces - There were 6 pattern pieces to cut out from the little folder at the back of the book. I like that there is a compartment for the pattern pieces, but I am already wondering how I am going to keep these pieces organized (a paper clip?) if I am going to be making all the bags in this book.
Illustrations/Instructions - Amy Butler's sewing instructions are always top-notch, in my opinion. However, I have been using a lot of .pdf sewing patterns lately, so I guess I missed the abundance of photographs for each step. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of photos of the completed projects throughout the book, which are gorgeous. There are a couple of drawings sprinkled throughout the pattern instructions for a few of the steps, but other than that you're mostly relying on the written instructions. This is fine with me, and I guess I understand this keeps the book at a reasonable length/cost (for $16 at Amazon, it's a wonderful value for the money).
There is a lot of clipping edges on your sewn seams in the instructions. I know it's tedious, but you really need to do this in each area she suggests, especially on the inner edges of the handles. You will be thankful later, trust me!
The closure on this bag is a 1-1/2" fabric covered button. I'd never made one before, but it's really easy and fun!
I made a few small changes as I worked through the pattern. I used different interfacing for some of the pieces (either to make the straps thicker, or because I had run out of the woven and used the fusible fleece on the sides and bottom pieces because that's all I had on hand).
Also, I skipped the pockets on the outside of the bag (one on each end; I also want to add that with my 1 yard of fabric, I would have had enough fabric to cut the pockets out if I had wanted to). I just felt like the bag was big enough as it is, with 4 pockets on the inside already, that the outside pockets weren't necessary, and I didn't feel like they contributed enough to the look of the bag to make them for no reason.
I made the pockets on the inside of the bag shorter by about 1". I like to put small things in the pockets of my purse (chapstick, eyeliner, etc.) and didn't want them to get swallowed up in a big pocket.
I also used 4 layers of cardboard in the bottom of the bag to give it some stability; I just added this right before I sewed the interior and exterior together. I was really glad I did this as now the bag can hold a lot of things (as its large size intends) and not bow down at the bottom. I would think that if you didn't add some sort of stiffness to the bottom, that it would just be a slouchy mess once you started filling the bag up with your things.
After I took all these photos, I decided to sew about 1/4" at each top corner of the bag. This allowed it to hold its box shape while being worn on your shoulder (if you noticed from the pictures, you can see the sides of the bag...once I sewed the corners in, the sides stayed put)
Conclusion - This was an extremely enjoyable bag to make. I feel like Amy Butler's rating of beginner is appropriate for this pattern. I mean, not that you'll be finishing it in an hour or anything (it took me a really long time ironing all that interfacing onto all those pieces), but none of the steps are incredibly difficult. The only suggestion I would make is if you don't need such a gigantic bag, just scan the pattern pieces into your computer and print them out at a smaller scale.