Friday, September 14, 2012

Amy Butler via IKEA

I've had Amy Butler's Weekender bag in my "to finish" pile for months.  I took a class early in spring to make the bag but despite two three-hour sessions I wasn't able to finish.  The bag is a very clever design - kind of like a modern-day bowling bad shape - with large exterior and side pockets.

Amy Butler Weekender

OMG I struggled with this project!  At a fundamental level, I understand that projects like these are just a matter of my ability to read and follow a set of written directions.  By this point in my sewing career I feel like I can follow a pattern with minimal screw-ups; the screw-ups are usually due to "user error" rather than an error in the pattern.  I found the Weekender's pattern to extraordinarily complex, almost to the point of tear-your-hair-out-frustration.  And it's not only the pattern that's complicated.  At a certain point I found myself attempting to wrestle together one of the side panels with the zipper panel, literally a 3/4" stack of fabric, peltex and interfacing through my sewing machine.  After numerous attempts, lots of swearing and much jamming of my machine, I put the project aside.  This has been a lousy week and I wanted a "win" so yesterday I took the pile of fabric, etc to my local sewing shop where I happily found success and only broke one needle in the process of finishing. 

Amy Butler Weekender

The pattern recommends using a lightweight canvas or upholstery fabric and I found these at my local IKEA which carries a lot of cool lightweight canvas fabrics for pretty good prices.  I picked fabrics which are complimentary though not identical, with the outside being more black and the inside being more while.  If you ever buy fabric at IKEA, please note that the widths are not standard!  I wasn't paying attention when I cut the fabric so I ended up with waaaay more than I needed (my next project? potholders for every person on the planet!).

Amy Butler Weekender

Ultimately, I am happy with the finished result.  I love the fabrics I picked and the size is really perfect for an overnight.  That being said, there are a LOT of obvious mistakes, though fortunately the craziness of the fabric pattern hides the worst of them.  This project is by far the most challenging I've taken on and I did learn a lot, including how to make my own cording and how to read and interpret an Amy Butler pattern ;-)  

Amy Butler Weekender
side view - note the large side pocket

If I made this bag again, I'd consider making a slightly more slouchy version, leaving out the peltex and relying on a sturdier interfacing on all fabric pieces (the lining isn't interfaced).  For the moment, however, I am going to enjoy my cool bag as it is and bask in the glow of crossing another outstanding project off my to do list!

Amy Butler Weekender
view of interior

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