A little over a month ago I decided to tackle the mother of all sewing projects (so I've heard anyways): the Amy Butler weekender bag. I loved Elizabeth Hartman's patchwork version, so I decided to use leftover Tula Pink Birds and the Bees and an Anna Maria Horner Field Study print that played nicely with them to quilt as you go the outside panels. I'm quite fond of how it turned out and actually want to make another!
Here are some tips and suggestions I learned along the way. I made a Pinterest board to collect my ideas before I started.
1. Quilt as you go. Inspired by Elizabeth's. To make it easier on yourself, don't feel like you have to patchwork the areas that will be covered by pockets - no one will see them!
2. Piping. Use Steam a Seam iron on fusible tape to eliminate extra sewing. Here's a Noodlehead tutorial. Also, to eliminate a little bulk at the spot where the piping meets, fold back the piping fabric, trim the piping ends to fit exactly against one another, then replace the fabric covering the raw edges of the piping while tucking the raw edge of the fabric in. Kind of like binding a quilt, but with piping inside. I added piping to the edges of the side pockets.
3. Handles. Make them longer! I added ~8" total to the straps so they are comfortable to hang from my shoulder. I also reinforced the handles by stitching them extra well to the side panels.
4. Zipper. I wanted a zipper that opened either direction, like on a suitcase or a purse. I couldn't find one longer than 22" at JoAnn or online, so a brilliant friend of mine suggested I look backpacks, etc. at Goodwill. My zipper is from a Dell laptop case! Make sure to find one that doesn't have the brand on it :) I spent $5 on the laptop case, and it had tons of zippers and other hardware I can use for future projects.
5. Zippered pocket. I made one for the lining of the outside pocket. Tutorial here.
6. Interior pockets added. I cut an extra exterior pocket piece from the lining, using the top edge of the pocket on a fold, so it was twice the size. I top stitched along the folded edge, then lined it up with one of the large lining pieces along the bottom and basted in place. I measured halfway across the pocket, marked on the top and bottom, and sewed through the pocket and lining layers to create 2 interior pockets.
7. Bag feet. I bought 2 packages and used 6 feet on the bottom of my bag. Make sure you use Fray Check before you stick the brads in to keep them from unraveling in the future.
8. Needles. Use a sharps needle for construction!!!!!!!! My top thread was breaking like crazy and I got so mad I put the bag away for 2 or 3 weeks. My sewing machine lady recommended a sharps needle and I was finished with construction in an hour.
9. Clover clips. Wow, why haven't I used these before??
10. False bottom. I haven't made one yet, and don't really think mine needs one because the Peltex etc I used in the bottom is pretty stiff.
11. I may go back and add magnetic snaps to the outside pockets because they kind of stick out. I'll see how I feel about this when deciding if this will cause more damage since I'm finished making it now.
Hopefully this inspires you to make your own! It's totally worth it :D
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