Thursday, August 5, 2010

my I'm-super-excited-about-this bag!

Okay -I am reeeeaaaaally excited to share this with you!  I didn't get around to sewing until Tuesday night, and finished this on Wednesday afternoon.  I theorized it for about a week and a half before I started working on it though, so maybe (or maybe not) you can understand my obsessiveness eagerness to finish it right away.  

I have been wanting a nice weekend/overnight bag for a while, and have been keeping my eye out at thrift stores to find a fun, kind-of vintage looking one that is in good condition.  I haven't been able to find one and I'm getting tired of using my old, ripped up backpack, so I finally decided it was time to sew myself a bag! 
I had this canvas fabric in my closet for a while, which I was originally going to use for some cushions, but that hasn't happened and I love the print on it - so why not tote my weekend necessities around in it?  

I looked around online for some patterns and inspiration, and after stumbling on a few blogs, I found a quite popular Amy Butler bag.  (if you type in "Amy Butler Weekender Bag" on Google, you'll see a plethora of images of cute bags like this one and this one.)  However, blog after blog, I also found that pretty much everyone complained about how hard it was to put together!  I looked up the pattern and found it on sale for anywhere between $10-$12 online.   Yeah RIGHT!  Ok, maybe I'm cheap, but I am not spending 12 dollars on something that might not even help me that much (I always seem to get stuck somewhere in a pattern), plus I didn't even spend that much on the fabric!  So, I decided to not heed any of the warnings of these past sewers, and make a blatant copy of it with my own pattern.

VERY surprised to say - I am exceedingly pleased with the results!  I think being a self-taught sewer might be a little bit of an advantage, because I don't know any of the "rules", so I was probably breaking them left and right.

I wish, wish, wish that I could scan my pattern in for you and create a tutorial, but I'm afraid that since it is such a close copy (true, it doesn't have all the pockets, and I'm sure I took some  'sewing shortcuts' I didn't even know I was taking, and its a bit less professional and sturdy looking, but the essence of the design is very similar), that there would be some copyright problem with that. 

so, I guess I'll just share some photos of it with you, and maybe inspire you to do something similar!

Okay, get ready for picture overload:

Oh, and I must give my husband credit for generously donating his photography skills - even if he saw this look quite often when I got impatient.

The most difficult parts were definitely sewing that zipper on (I wasn't 100% sure about what I was doing, I have sewn a few zippers on things, but kind of just did it my way since zipper tutorials generally confuse me), and sewing through all the thick layers.  There was lots going on with the thicker canvas, interfacing, and straps and piping in some places.
It was a lot of fun to actually draw out a pattern, figure out the math, and go for it though!  I was originally going to make a mock-up with leftover fabric, but I kind of just...went for it instead.

I will say that if I had tried this a few months ago before I had the practice of sewing a lot of the elements of this bag, I would've wasted a lot of fabric.  If you want to make a bag like this and you are newer to sewing, I would suggest that you first find a tutorial on a simple bag (like the ones listed at the bottom of this post) so you can learn how to make all of the elements (i.e. lining, straps, install a zipper, make a pocket, sew-on piping, etc.).  Once you feel like you have mostly mastered these steps and are willing to be even more meticulous with your final bag, go for it!  You can always rip out seams.  I was very thankful I didn't have to rip out any seams with this.  I spent a long time thinking about how I was going to put it together before I cut anything, measured out my pattern several times to double check the math, pinned things and changed my machine foot quite often for the different jobs I needed done.

There are parts of it I would do differently if I were to make another one, which I hope to do sometime in the future and pawn it off as a gift to someone.

So, even though I don't think I should share a full tutorial and pattern online for free, if you would like the measurements/diagram I used to cut out the fabric, or have any questions about making one, I'd be happy to fill you in!  
I have so many more projects floating around in my head that I want to work on, but after a project like this, I probably will be on a sewing hiatus least a few days. 

I think I have a disease.

Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Here are some tutorials that might be helpful for you (I learned many basics from these):

Simple Bag Tutorials:
Shoulder Bag Tutorial on Ruffles and Stuff

Gathered Clutch Tutorial on Noodlehead

The Buttercup Bag Tutorial on Made-By-Rae

Technique Tutorials:
How to Install a Zipper Tutorial on Grosgrain

Bag Straps Tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew!

I was hoping to find a tutorial on how to do a lined pocket like the one I made on the front of my bag (see left image), but didn't.  Very easy thing to do that makes it that much prettier to look at!  Maybe I'll post a tutorial on it someday.


Candice Adema said...

OMG what a gorgeous bag!! I've been looking for a good overnight bag too...hmm, now I might have to try making one. I love love love Amy Butler, and the fabric you chose is perfect.

Josh said...

Pretty sure you'd be totally in the clear to post the pattern you made. Sewing patterns are protected by copyright, but you didn't copy the pattern. You just copied the bag.

Check out this TED talk about it. It's pretty cool:

becca said...

hey thanks - good video. I just always see these in big print on peoples sites that say "no copying", so I wasn't sure.

Amy said...

So I just want to say - Yes she is my Sister in Law! Isn't she amazing! I can't wait for Christmas and Birthday's maybe I will get some results of this amazing sewing skills.
Love you Becca Boo

Kaits said...

Soooo, I'm getting one of these for Christmas, right? ;)

So cute and so professional-looking! I'm jealous that you have time to sew. ;P

Tiffany said...

How fun! Sewing without a pattern is the best! I have not been daring enough to try a bag yet, but I totally know what you mean about zippers..

Jennie said...

I would greatly appreciate it if you could e-mail me a copy of your instructions/measurments. I love the bag and am in great need of a "grown up" overnight bag.