This was the pattern that I was most looking forward to, from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches book (and you can get the pattern for free from Sew Mama Sew!). Honestly, it’s the most innovative sewing pattern for a bag that I have ever seen. There are many details that I have not seen in any other patterns, such as the tags on the handles, and the dividers inside the bag. In my opinion, it’s the closest design to a store-bought type bag, and it’s totally fabulous!

I sewed this up for Bree’s Style Stitches Sew Along, and also for the Amy Butler Sew Along (which ends on September 14th, so you still have time! Fun prizes!).

Fabric – The fabric I used for this project was Perch in blue, from Echino. The instructions call for using decor-weight fabric (which I did), but if you decide to use quilt-weight cotton, I don’t see that being a problem. For the lining, I used a 1-yard piece of seafoam green corduroy fabric that I got from my aunt. I like to use inexpensive fabrics for bag linings because bag supplies tend to add up, especially when you count the interfacing. This bag requires both woven and Peltex fusible interfacing. There is also a magnetic snap closure, and one of the dividers on the inside of the bag has a zipper.

Pattern Pieces – There are several pattern pieces to cut, as well as some pieces that you will cut using rectangular measurements. There is a short and a long strap option. I’m going to be honest, between cutting the fabric pieces and the interfacing pieces, you will be cutting fabric for around an hour. I also spent around an hour fusing all the pieces to the interfacing. The pattern instructions recommend that you use masking tape to mark all your pieces in order to keep track of them better, but I didn’t do this and had no problem, although of course it’s up to you. 🙂

Illustrations/Instructions – Like all the patterns in the Style Stitches book, there are no step-by-step photographs to guide you along. There are a couple of illustrations, but you are mostly relying on the written instructions. I think because of the intricacy of the bag, some people might be a bit intimidated to try this pattern, but I do think it is easier than other Amy Butler bags I’ve tried (like the Weekender Bag or the Take Flight Bag).

For instance, assembling the strap tags/handles take up a good chunk of the pattern instructions; however, this part of the pattern is not difficult at all. As you can see above, I have sewn down the strap tags to the main panel of my bag. Not hard.

The trickiest part was sewing the 2 side panels onto the main part of the bag, but even that wasn’t too bad. The Peltex interfacing makes it a bit tricky, but nothing near as difficult as other bags, and the side panels are not very large, so the hard part is over very quickly.

I enjoyed making the dividers on the inside of the bag…I know I will like having so much organization in my purse! The dividers are so simple to make, and even if you decide to skip the zipper, it would be no problem.

The only place I deviated from the pattern was that I added an extra bit of (fleece) fusible interfacing around the snap area on the flap; I am always concerned with the wear-and-tear that the metal snap will do to the strength of the fabric, so I usually do this on any bag with a magnetic snap. This scrap of interfacing would just be fused on before you insert the snap (you can see it in my photo, sticking out on the wrong side of the interfacing).

Conclusion – I usually have several things to say in my pattern reviews, but this is a pretty perfect pattern. If you set aside a couple hours to cut and fuse, then you’ll only have a few hours of sewing and you will be left with a beautiful, beautiful bag. I will definitely be making this bag again in different fabrics. I would recommend this sewing pattern to an intermediate sewer (or if you’ve made a couple bags before). Just fabulous, you really have to make this one!

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Just about everyone has a little bit of Amy Butler…a pattern, some fabric. Or if you don’t, you’ve probably at least heard of her. This sew along was originally supposed to be for the new Amy Butler Spice Market Tote, a great beginner-friendly pattern. But, I have decided to change it up a little bit. BTW, if you’re participating in the Two Peas Madison Bag Sew Along, don’t forget that you have until Friday to finish and link up your bag!

The Amy Butler Sew Along Deets – For this sew along, you may use any Amy Butler sewing pattern. You can use one of her paper patterns, her Style Stitches book (if you have the book, it’s never too late to jump in on my friend Bree’s Amy Butler Sew Along…one project from the book each month), or if you don’t have any of her patterns, you can get some for FREE on her website. You can also get the free pattern for the Blossom Bag at Sew Mama Sew (which is awesome, by the way). So, you have a lot of options out there.

You may use any of her patterns (you can make a pillow, quilt, clothing, bag, whatever!). You do not need to make your project out of Amy Butler fabric; any fabric is fine!

My Amy Butler Lotus Tunic

My only specification is that your project must be sewn NOW through the end of the sew along (which is September 14th). No previously completed projects, please! You may complete more than 1 project, and each project may be counted as a separate entry for the giveaway prizes.

Blossom Bag

I will be working on the Sophia Carry All…it’s been sitting cut-out on my ironing board for awhile, so it’s time to get to it. 🙂 I’ve completed several Amy Butler projects before, which can be seen on my Pattern Reviews page. Even if you’re a beginning sewer, there is an Amy Butler project out there for you (if you need help choosing one, let me know, I’d be happy to help!!).

Support – I’ve created a Flickr Group for the sew along. Feel free to join up, post pictures of the fabric you are planning on working with, as well as any questions along the way! We’re here to help eachother get to the finish line!

Every week I’ll post some Amy Butler inspiration for you!

My Amy Butler Weekender Bag

The Prizes – I’m going to do this a few different ways.

Prize #1 – Most creative use of an Amy Butler pattern will receive prize pack #1, which includes the Madison Bag, Kimberly Bag, and Cabo Halter sewing patterns courtesy of Amy Butler Design. My judges will choose this one.

Prize #2 – ‘Crowd Favorite’ will receive a $20 gift certificate to an online fabric shop. The Crowd Favorite will be narrowed down to 10 finalists chosen by my unbiased team of judges. Then you all will get to cast your vote on your favorite.

Prize #3 – Randomly chosen winner, selected by, out of everyone who completes a project. This prize pack includes the Midwest Mod Pillows and Spice Market Tote patterns courtesy of Amy Butler Design.

Prize #4 – My Dirty Bubble Zippered Pouch from my free tutorial. The pouch will be stuffed with vintage wooden spools of pretty thread! This winner will also be randomly chosen, selected by, out of everyone who completes a project.

Prize #5 – My Naughty Secretary Bag from my free tutorial. The actual bag! This winner will also be randomly chosen, selected by, out of everyone who completes a project.

Linky Party – You have from now until Wednesday, September 14th to complete your Amy Butler sewing pattern project. There will be a linky party here on this blog, on that day, for you to “link” up your completed project (if you don’t have a blog, you may link to the Flickr or other photo-sharing site, with your completed project).

Today’s Giveaway – If you’ve made it this far down the post, congratulations! And here is the info for today’s giveaway! To kick off this event, you can win yourself a shiny new copy of Amy Butler’s Spice Market Tote pattern! The giveaway closes Wednesday, August 3rd at 11pm CT. The winner will be chosen by out of all the entrants. Anyone may enter this giveaway, and you can have up to 3 chances to win!

1. Leave a comment. Any comment will do.

2. Follow my blog. If you already follow, thank you so much! New followers, welcome!

3. Tell me what Amy Butler pattern you are thinking of using for the sew along. I am so curious to know!

If you are a no-reply blogger, or if you’re not sure if you are or not, please leave your e-mail in the comment so I have a way to contact you.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have! Anything at all! sara(at)sewsweetness(dot)com.

This post is part of the Sewing Back-to-School series, 30 days of helpful sewing articles by guest bloggers. Feel free to check out the original Sewing Back-to-School post for schedule and previous posts!

Bree is visiting today from My Crafty Crap. She’s just gone on blogger maternity leave after the birth of her beautiful little boy! I have been following along with her Amy Butler Style Stitches Sew Along all year, and it’s not too late to jump on the band wagon…in fact, September’s bag is the Blossom Bag (available to download for free!!).

Hey there, Sew Sweetness readers! I’m Bree from My Crafty Crap, and I’m so thankful to Sara for having me here today.

Have you ever wanted to put a zipper in the top of a bag/clutch/pouch but couldn’t get everything to look all nice & pretty, especially at the seams?
Here’s my (more or less) fool-proof method for adding zippers. This is not some new or ground-breaking method. In fact, there are probably other tutorials out there that use a similar method, but this is what works best for me.

First & foremost, you need to decide what you’re going to make (I’m going to refer to a “pouch” to keep things simple). This method can be adapted to pretty much any pattern, or if you just want to wing it for a simple pouch. Any time I’m working on a bag pattern that requires putting in a zipper (except in the lining, for that method, this is my go-to tutorial), I skip all instructions for the zipper, do it my own way, then go back to the pattern to finish up whatever I’m making. I have yet to find a pattern where I couldn’t use this method.

When you’ve gotten to the point where you’re ready to put in a zipper (you’ve cut out all your pieces & applied any interfacing necessary), measure the top of your pouch, and get a zipper that is at least the same length. Zippers are sold in measurements based on the actual zip length, not the overall length (includes the amount past the zip stop). So if the pouch you are making is 12″ wide at the top, you’ll want to get at least a 12″ zipper, which will technically be longer than your pouch. Remember, if you’re using a plastic zipper, you can cut it to any length you like, so longer zippers are perfectly okay to use.
Here are the pieces I’ll be using for my pouch. Each is about 13″ square.
The zipper I chose is a 22″ zipper, so I’ll be cutting it to length a little later.
First we’re going to make our zip ends. These are the little bits of fabric that will cover the ends of your zipper, act as a zipper stop, and keep your seam looking nice. It’s the light-colored piece at the end of my zipper here:
Decide what fabric you want to use for your zip ends. You can choose something that matches your exterior, the zipper, the lining, or go crazy with a pop of color. In this case, I’m using the same muslin that I used for my lining. Unless you’re making a tiny pouch with a very small opening, cut a piece of your fabric at least double the width of your zipper (I usually eyeball a piece around 5″ long) & 2.5″ wide.
(If you are making something with a very short zipper, you’ll probably want shorter zip ends so you have the longest usable zipper as possible. I’ve gone as small as about 1″ wide to start, but the smaller it is, the harder it is to work with, and doesn’t look as nice on longer zippers.)
The length doesn’t matter too much, as long as you have enough to cover both ends of your zipper.
With a hot & steamy iron (I use the highest settings for whatever type of fabric I’m using), press the piece in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together. Once it cools, fold one side in to the middle crease & press again. Again, once it cools, fold the other side in to the middle & press. We’re basically making double-fold bias tape here (which you could use instead of making your own).
The left side has been pressed in to the middle.
Sorry, I should have used fabric that had definite “right” & “wrong” sides…
You’re left with a piece that has the right side showing on both sides, is approximately 5/8″ wide, and is four layers thick.
Go ahead & cut this piece in half, so you have two zip ends.
Next, take your zipper, and from the end without the pull when it’s closed…
…cut off the tabs, as close to the metal stop as you can. Make sure you cut across as straight & even as possible.
(If you’re working on a small pouch with a short zipper, you may actually want to cut off the metal stop so you don’t have to worry about hitting it with your needle when you sew on the zip end.)
Now sandwich the end inside the zip end you just pressed. Put the end you just cut flush with the center crease.
Close it up, and pin in place.
I sew as close to the edge of the zip end (along the zipper) as I can & still make sure I’m catching both sides – about 1/16″.
Make sure you backstitch at each end of the zipper. Your zip end is probably wider than your zipper at this point, you don’t need to sew all the way to the end of the fabric, I start & stop just off the zipper, making sure to backstitch on the actual zipper.
Now, measure the top of your pouch again (overall length of the pattern piece, not what you think the finished size will be). You’re going to want to make a mark on your zipper just a smidge (technical term, I know…) over an inch shorter than the width of your pouch. I like to sew with a 3/8″ seam, so you can adjust accordingly depending on how wide of a seam you like to sew. I’ve found that cutting the zipper about 1 1/8″-1 1/4″ shorter than the pouch works best for me.
Remember, my pieces are 13″ square, so I marked my zipper at 12″, and I’ll cut just short of the line.
This is important!!! Do not, I repeat DO NOT, cut your zipper at the line if it looks like the picture above. Don’t even think about it. I know it would be so much easier to cut it when it’s closed up like that, but you’ll be leaving your pull on the wrong side.
Move your zipper pull past your line (towards the zip end you already sewed on – mine is off to the right), so it looks like this:
Before you cut it, sew it together below your line. It doesn’t have to be pretty, you just want the two halves held together when you sew on your zip end. Trust me, it’ll make things much easier in a minute. I just hand sew it with a few stitches.
(Sorry, I turned my zipper around between pictures. My finished end is now on the left.)
Once you’ve sewn the ends together, double check that your zipper pull is in the correct part of the zipper, then go ahead & cut the zipper. If you marked your zipper an inch shorter than your opening (like I did), then cut it a little smaller. If you marked it right at 1 1/8″-1 1/4″ shorter than the pouch, then go ahead & cut right on your line. Again, try to cut it as straight & even as possible.
Now, just like the other end, sandwich it in the middle of your remaining piece of zip end, push up flush with the crease, pin, and sew in place.
Trim your zip ends so they’re even with the width of the zipper. Your zipper (including zip ends) should now be finished on both ends & approximately an inch shorter than the top of your pouch.
Take the first exterior piece for your pouch, it doesn’t matter which one, and lay it down rightside up. Center your zipper wrong side up along the top edge of your exterior piece. You want the “working” side of the zipper to be facing the right side of your exterior. Basically, you’re placing the fabric & zipper right sides together. It doesn’t matter which end the zipper pull is on, unless you have a preference (I always sew my first piece with the zip pull on the left). Make sure the zipper is centered – you can either measure on each side of the zipper (my method of choice), or fold the zipper & fabric in half then match up the center points. Open your zipper a couple inches, then pin in place so that the edge of the zipper is flush with the top edge of your fabric.
(Note: You can skip this next step, basting in the zipper, if you’d like. Personally, I’m not typically a fan of basting, but I always baste my zipper to the exterior. If you want to skip the basting, you’ll sandwich your zipper between your exterior and lining pieces in this order – exterior right side up, zipper right side down, and lining right side down. Like I said, I always baste (even when I made 22 zippered pouches at once!!), but it’s totally up to you. If this is your first time sewing a zipper, I really can’t recommend basting enough.)
Baste the zipper in place, about 1/8″ from the edge (not right along the zipper teeth). Be sure to sew over the zip ends as well, but don’t go past them. When it comes to sewing zippers, I always,always pull out my pins as I get to them. They always seem to pull the zipper out of place just a bit & can cause problems if you leave them in. So, even if you normally sew over your pins (guilty as charged!), do yourself a favor & pull them when sewing anything with a zipper.
When you get close to the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position.
Take your foot off & completely away from the peddle. Some people will say to go ahead & shut off your machine too, but I can’t since my needle moves every time I turn the machine on. Basically, just don’t sew through your finger on this next part. 🙂
Lift your presser foot & move the zipper pull past the foot so it’s out of your way to finish sewing. This can take some crazy maneuvering sometimes, and more than once I’ve had to remove the foot to get the zipper by. Personally, I prefer to sew as much of the zipper as possible with the zipper closed. So you may move it more towards the end, depending on which end of the zipper you’re coming from.
Finish basting on your zipper, making sure to backstitch at the end of the zip end.
Sorry my stitches are light & hard to see here.
Once again, open your zipper a few inches.
Place your first lining piece wrong side up, so the top is flush with the zipper & exterior piece. Pin in place.
The double pins on the ends mark the ends of the zipper & the double pins in the middle mark the zipper pull. If you can tell where the zipper ends (you don’t want to sew past the zipper), you don’t need to mark those, but I recommend at the very least marking your zipper pull so you don’t forget & get too close.
Switch to your zipper foot & sew along the edge of the zipper. We are sewing on the right side of the zipper, so you should attach on the left side of the zipper foot. The ledge of the zipper foot should sit on top of the zipper, and on mine, I know I can line up the right side of the little sled part (again with the technical terms…) with the edge of my fabric & have it sew nice & close to the zipper, but not too close.
Start & stop at the ends of the zipper (including zip ends), but do not sew off the ends where you just have the lining & exterior together. Be sure to backstitch at each end. Stop when you get within about an inch of your zipper pull, leave your needle down, lift the presser foot, and move the zipper past the foot. Don’t forget to pull your pins as you go instead of sewing over them!
When you get to the end & open it up, you should have this:
Both lining & exterior are right side up & the working side of the zipper is on the exterior side.
Flip the lining all the way over so the lining & exterior are now wrong sides together. Work the seam along the zipper so it’s nice & flat on both sides, then pin in place.
Topstitch along the edge of the zipper. You can either use your zipper foot or switch back to your regular foot (my choice). You want to stitch about 1/8″ away from the edge of the fabric.
This will help keep your exterior, and especially your lining from getting stuck in the zipper.
Now, we’re going to repeat the whole process with the other exterior & lining pieces.
Place your remaining exterior piece down right side up, and put your zipper (now with an exterior & lining attached) on wrong side up on top. Your two exterior pieces will be right sides together, with the right side of a lining on top.
Line up the zipper flush with the top edge of your exterior fabric & pin in place.
Baste your zipper in place the same as before, about 1/8″ away from the edge.
Lay your remaining lining piece on top, wrong side up. Make sure to mark your zipper pull.
Your two lining pieces should be right sides together.
Once again, switch to your zipper foot, and sew, making sure to stop & move your zipper pull when you get to it, and start & stop at the end of the zipper, not the end of the fabric.
If you open it all up & lay it flat, you should have both right sides of the exterior along with the working side of the zipper.
And if you flip the whole thing over, you should have both right sides of the lining along with the back side of the zipper.
Now, on the pieces you just attached to the zipper, once again work the seam so it lays flat & pin so you can topstitch along the edge of the zipper, the same as you did for the first side.
At this point, you may now return to your regularly scheduled pattern, if you were following one. If not, read on to finish up your pouch.
If you want to add any kind of loop for a handle, now is the time to do it. Make your loop (I use the same method as I did for the zip ends – basically making double-fold bias tape, but much smaller. I think this piece was 1″ before folding & pressing.), then pin & baste it in place.
IMPORTANT!!! Right this very second, open your zipper. Do not forget or you will not stop cursing yourself later. Trust me, it’s possible to open a zipper from the wrong side, but it is noteasy. Not at all. And do yourself a favor, open it all the way. Again, trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
Fold the pieces back so your exteriors are right sides together & linings are right sides together, with the zipper in the middle. Pin in place.
I always use double pins to mark where I need to leave my opening for turning. If I don’t, I’ll forget & sew all the way around.
I have found the absolute, best method for turning is this one from Michelle at Keyka Lou. If you aren’t using this method, do me a favor & at least try it a time or two. I promise you’ll never want to do it another way, and if you do, I want to know what your better method is. You can thank me later. 😉
When you’re sewing it all together, do not sew over your zip ends when you get to that point, just sew in the space next to them. You’ll probably have to decrease your seam allowance to squeeze by, and sometimes I even switch to my zipper foot so I can get as close as possible to the zip ends without actually sewing them into the seam.
If you’re making a basic flat pouch, just sew all the way around, turn through your opening, sew the opening closed, and carefully push the seams into place at the ends of your zipper. Remember, your seam allowance here is probably smaller than everywhere else, so be gentle, but you can get them pushed out nicely.
If you want to make a pouch with a flat bottom, sew around only your exterior, start & stopping about an inch on the lining side of the zipper. If you make your gussets in your exterior beforesewing the lining, you’ve got the entire zipper to reach through, which is much easier than trying to reach through the opening you leave in the lining. Once your exterior gussets are made, sew around the lining piece, then use your turning opening to make your gussets.
When you’re all done, you should have a nice little pouch with a pretty zipper! It still takes some practice, but after you do it a few times, you’ll have the process down so you barely have to think about it.
Good luck!


Amanda Murphy ‘Blossoms’ quilt pattern

This past April, I hosted a sew along for the Sis Boom Jamie Dress. Tons of you sewed along and made the dress (and some made more than one!!). I have a tentative schedule of more sew alongs that will be happening this summer on my blog. All sew alongs will be accompanied by a discount for supplies, and giveaway prizes at the end for all participants.

I would love to do another dress or clothing sew along too…anyone have any suggestions (Colette patterns? Which one?)? Leave me a comment if you have a suggestion, or if you think you might participate! 🙂

June 9 – July 1
The Ava Bag from Two Peas in a Pod Designs 

July 4 – July 29
The Madison Bag from Two Peas in a Pod Designs

August 1 – August 29
Amy Butler sewing patterns (any Amy Butler pattern)

Blossoms quilt from Amanda Murphy Design 
(I am testing this right now, and… ::swoon:: )

I will be guest posting on My Crafty Crap for the Amy Butler Style Stitches Sew Along when Bree goes on maternity leave with her new baby boy. 🙂 For the month of September, you can join along even if you don’t have the book, because the Blossom Bag pattern is available for free at Sew Mama Sew!

Amy Butler Blossom Bags made by