Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amy Butler In-Town HandBag Tips - Cute & Simple


I hadn't sewn for a couple of weeks and there were signs of withdrawal. A somewhat neater house. An undefined restlessness. Irritability.  

So when Mother's Day was approaching and I texted my husband to ask him where he was taking the kids for the entire Saturday, he put a plan into action. The only dilemma was what to sew ... sometimes you have to be in the mood to sew certain things, you know? Anyone relate? I wasn't in the mood for kids clothes. I didn't really want to start on the skirt and dress patterns set aside for me.  That's when I pulled out my purse patterns, looking for something I could make in a day.

Hello Amy Butler. 
Hello Amy Butler In-Town Handbag.
Hello neglected Amy Butler fabric stash in my mechanical room.
I think I love you.

If you're looking for a fairly beginner bag, this is it. If you've got some decent sewing experience under your belt, this will take you 2 hours, max. Max. Probably less.  There are only 4 pattern pieces. Totally doable.

The bag is not big ... unlike some of her other bags (!) ... but is just sort of sweet and petite.

And if you're looking for a few tips to putting this together, here are some ideas that helped me:

1. Interface the exterior fabric AND lining fabric with fusible interfacing (I use Shapeflex) before cutting out the pattern pieces. 

This saves you cutting all those stinky interfacing pieces separately. There's not too much wastage if you plan it carefully. The original pattern calls for sew-in interfacing. Pshaw on that. Fusible. Faster. 

And while you're at it, interface the lining as well. Its not called for in the instructions but I find it gives the bag more body. 

Lay the interfacing over the fabric, then lay the pattern pieces out for planning.  Cut away any excess interfacing before ironing down.  

Once the interfacing is fused, fold your fabric over to make two layers and cut out your pieces, like you normally would.  But, don't  cut out an interfaced bottom panel from exterior fabric, instead see the next tip.

2. About that bottom panel.

You want it to be stiff and sturdy. I cut a piece of Pellon heavy-weight stabilizer 1/2" smaller than the panel all around. Then, cut a piece of fusible interfacing the same size as the bottom panel. Layer the interfacing over the Pellon and over the wrong side of exterior fabric. Fuse. The fused edges will hold the Pellon in place. The bonus to this method - there is no bulk of the Pellon in the seams when you go to sew.  For the lining fabric bottom panel - no Pellon. Just interface it.

3. Interior Pocket

The pattern calls for a large interior pocket, but its not lined. I made mine smaller, and I lined it.  I also threw in some interfacing.  I now wish I had added not one but two interior pockets. Just so handy.

For the interior pocket, interface one half of your rectangle. Fold it in half, right sides together, leaving a space for turning. Turn right side out and press. You can topstitch the top of the pocket, or you can trim it with some contrast fabric bias tape like I did. Sew your pockets to the lining fabric before sewing the lining together.

4. Closures

The pattern calls for using a piece of ribbon and forming it into a loop, then tacking it down on the bag exterior. I wanted something more sturdy - so I made a narrow strap out of contrasting fabric in the same manner as the handles are constructed, formed a loop and tacked down.  I also added a magnetic snap into the lining before attaching the lining to the bag exterior.

5. Attach the lining. And do it the easy way. 

The pattern calls for sewing the lining and exterior right sides together and leaving an opening for turning. The problem with this method is that when you turn it right side out, it can be slightly off-center, or it can crinkle up after you turn it, or it might not fit snugly.  I find it easier to construct the lining and then just fold over the lining top edge; press, and the exterior top edge; press. Place the lining inside the bag and match up your top edges. You can fiddle with it so the lining sits the way you want (some people will even construct the lining 1/8" smaller than the exterior so it fits perfectly). Anyway, pin everything together, including setting your handles in between the layers at the same time.  Topstitch all the way around. I go over the spots where the handles are attached twice, for good measure. See this post from the Blossom Handbag for a good visual of installing the lining.  

Handbag with a non-bling button. I actually like this natural-style button, too. Which do you prefer?

All told, I really enjoyed sewing together this handbag, and I will totally make another one. Next time I might try adding either a zippered interior pocket, or a set-in zipper closure (instead of a mag snap) to make it more practical. The drawstring handbag, also included in the pattern, looks fun as well.

Whew. If you're still reading, hello! Nice to see you! Speaking of reading, what are you reading this week? I have been mesmerized with Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith. Um, no, that's not a trashy novel. Its a book about flight, "everything you need to know about air travel," and its probably a bit too blunt for an anxious flyer like me. But, I need to suck it up if I'm going to make it to Sewing Summit, France or any other fun destinations. Right? That's affirmative, Victor-niner-niner. Ok, its late. 

Linking up with Elizabeth's needle and thREAD today, so please do pop over and check out what everyone else is sewing and reading.  In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Pentecost Sunday!! May the Holy Spirit bless your sewing and reading adventures!!

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