Bag Lady

Bag_on_the_fence_2 What is it with bags and me lately?  I present my finished Rural Messenger Bag.  I intended to sew the main body together as a start, but once I finished that the remaining steps were too easy not to finish in one go.  If I had started and stopped I would have had to clean up the sewing area (for "sewing area" read "dining-room table") only to have to pull everything out again this morning.

Of course, when it comes to sewing, "one go" for me is more like this:

Sew. Rip. Resew, rip a little bit, finish seam.  Sew, sew, rip, sew, rip, sew.  I'll admit that I tend to read directions, interpret them, follow said directions, finish, and then say "Ooop. I'll bet that actually meant...."  My seam ripper and I have become good friends.

Even when I follow the instructions correctly, I can still manage a mistake.  Last night, after finishing the bag, I modeled it in front of the mirror.  Whoops!  I'd put the strap on incorrectly, so the lining fabric was on the top, with the main fabric underneath.  Not the look I had in mind.  For about two minutes I pretended that I could actually live with this.  Then I asked myself the same questions that I always ask myself when I make a mistake like this.  Will I constantly notice the error?  Yes.  Will the mistake keep me from using/wearing said item?  Yes.  Something Cropped_bag had to be done.

I noticed that if I undid the stitching around the strap ends, I could slip out the strap, flip it around, and sew it back in with minimal disruption.  Success!  The top stitching looks a bit distorted where I did this, but since the area is on the back of the bag, no one will notice.  Shhh.  It's our secret, OK?

I lined all the pattern pieces with iron-in interfacing before sewing.  Kind of a pain, and an extra step that the instructions make no mention of anywhere.  I'm glad, however, that I took the effort.  The extra stiffness from the interfacing gives the bag a nice, polished appearance.  The interfacing made the sewing easier too.  If you make one of these bags, and you use one of Amy's fabrics, then expect that you will need a rather stiff type of interfacing.

I am not the World's Greatest Seamstress. (I first typed "sewer" as in "one who sews" and then noticed that it could be mistaken for a different noun. Tee hee.)  As I feared, some of the instructions were less than clear.  I'm sure Amy knew exactly what she meant when writing them.  I wonder if she had anyone else read the pattern for clarity.  For example, in step 3 of the bag assembly, "Place the Right side of the Side/Bottom Panel and the Front Main Panel together.  Starting on the right side, line up the top raw edges.  Stitch down the first side...."  Does she mean the "right side" as in the side that's not the left, or "right side" as in the side of the fabric that's got the print?  Turns out that she means both.  And what's the "first side"?  Clearer wording might be something like "With the printed sides of the Side/Bottom Panel and the Front Main Panel facing each other, line up the top raw edges of both pieces and begin sewing on the right-hand edge, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance."

Of course, all of this could be explained with no words, using clear, large P1010029_1 P1010030_1 illustrations.  Amy's are too small to get anything but a general sense of what you need to do.  The illustration on the far right, one that is supposed to tell you how to handle two details in the lower corner of the bag, is less than an inch square.  The entire illustration for this instruction is 3 1/2 by 1 inches.  At that size, it is impossible to determine where exactly you need to clip those corners.  It would have been very easy to double the size of the illustrations and draw only that part of the bag covered by the instruction.   More stylized illustrations, or at least ones that look less like notebook doodles, would be helpful.

Also, Amy needs an editor.  Step 5: "With Right side together, place of the Side/Bottom Panel...onto the Back Main Panel."  Place of?  "Place BOTH of?" Perhaps.  A little grammatical detective work ("Side/Bottom Panel" was in the singular), and I guessed that the "of" was extraneous, and I shouldn't use both the Side/Bottom Panels.  I was right.  I won't point out that she should have written "sides" instead of "side."  Whoops, just did.

Did I alter the pattern any?  Slightly.  Amy goes to great lengths to explain where and how to attach several pieces of Velcro.  To me, Velcro is to be avoided at all costs.  Based on a tip from one of Leigh's posts, I didn't use the Velcro, and I don't see a need for it.

All that said, I think Amy Butler's designs are lovely.  The sewing wasn't very difficult to figure out: it was the principle of the whole thing.  The reason I made this bag is that I wanted something unusual to sling over my shoulder.  If I needed an evening bag of some sort, I'd probably look through her designs to find something suitable, but I'd also look through some Vogue patterns as well.

Alison asks "Had you heard anything specific about the Amy Butler patterns before - is this typical?"

That is a good question, Alison.  I didn't think to do any searching for opinions before starting this project.  What a great idea! has a sewing-pattern review forum.  According to this thread, I'm on crack.  Everybody loves her patterns.  Maybe I'm too demanding in my sewing-pattern needs.


It's incredible! What a great job you did. Maybe I should try sewing some bags to get myself back into sewing again. Thanks for the inspiration!


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