The wicked weekender bag…

Hi all! Thanks for coming back! I know most of you are probably as surprised as I am that I’ve actually written another post – I’m going to TRY and do one a week – we’ll see how that goes!

So, I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite makes so far – my Amy Butler Weekender Bag. (I can’t find this pattern on Amy’s website anymore, but if you’re in the US you can buy it here and if you’re in Australia you can find it here.

Lots of you have seen pictures of this bag (and some have even seen it in person!), and I know a few of you have made your own, and if you haven’t, then you’ve probably heard people talk about how difficult it is. Well, they’re right. Sort of.

The pattern itself is not difficult – in fact it’s very straight forward and well illustrated and easy to follow. The difficulty lies in all the freaking layers you have to sew together, and whether your sewing machine can handle them or not. Mine could not. More on that later.

I’ll start with the materials I used and the changes I made (because of course I did). The pattern calls for home dec weight fabric for the exterior and lining. I used my loooong hoarded (and out-of-print-so-stupidly-expensive) Melody Miller Ruby Star Shining typewriters. I snapped up half a yard of this from a destash back when I started buying fabric, and knew straight away I wanted to make the Weekender Bag from it. I was then lucky (or stupid) enough to find a yard of it for sale on a difference destash a year or so ago and pounced (and then had a heart attack when I realised what the USD – AUD exchange rate was). I used a plain quilting cotton for the lining, and the eleventy billion yards of Pellon equivalent interfacing from spotlight. (I still don’t know why there are SO MANY layers of interfacing – why not just use one thicker layer??)

ANYWAY, so I had the fabric. And I had the pattern. And then I freaked out and could not cut into my precious typewriters. I had read every tutorial and blog post out there about this bag, and the one thing they all mention is how challenging it is. So I read and re-read the pattern, thinking I must be missing something – the pattern seemed straight forward, so how hard could it really be? (I say this a lot – so much so I have a future post dedicated to this very topic. And it turns out – really bloody hard!)

One day I decided to JFDI* and after re-reading the pattern for the millionth time, and NOT having a glass of wine (that’s how nervous I was to cut the precious) I cut out my first piece of lining. And it wasn’t that hard! But it took forever (there are something like 55 separate pieces of fabric/interfacing to cut out) and some careful fabric placement to make sure I could get all the pieces out of my typewriters.

While I was cutting, I decided to make a few changes, based on some of the tutorials I read. I added an inside zip pocket (using this tutorial), lengthened the straps by 10” so I could put it over my shoulder, and I had planned to add purse feet, but I forgot about them. In hindsight I wish I had added a separating zipper (the pattern specifies a non-separating one) as the zip pull gets lost in the end pocket.

So what about the actual construction? Well it’s really quite simple, as long as you can read a pattern and follow directions (duh), and as long as your machine can handle it. Mine could not. I now have a new machine. The two may or may not be related.

I constructed to top panel with the zip and end pockets, and again thought I must have been missing something, it was so easy! And then I got to attaching the side panels. HO. LY. SHIT. My machine COULD NOT cope with all the layers (three lining, three exterior, two THICK pellon, three more layers of interfacing, and some piping. Phew.) I could only get four or five stitches before the thread would break. And I tried every trick in the book – denim/heavy duty needles, different thread, hand cranking the dial thingee on the machine, you name it I tried it.

I swore and I cried and I read more blogs and more tutorials, and almost gave up. And then the genius (not genius) idea to hand sew it popped into my head, which I promptly dismissed as madness. But it niggled at me and since I couldn’t see any other way to do it, I gave it a go. And it worked! And it was tidy! And the piping was neat!

I did one side in about 8 hours, and was stoked with how it turned out, so decided to keep going. Man it was tough on my fingers though.

But after a weekend of hand sewing, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I had an exterior. Then it was a fairly simple process to assemble the lining and hand stitch into the exterior.

I am SO happy with how it turned out. I just love it. It makes me happy to take it places, and I’ve had loads of compliments. I’ll make another one day – here’s hoping my new machine can cope, but even if it can’t, I would be ok hand sewing it again.

If you have any questions or would like any more details, let me know in the comments!

*Just Fucking Do It

11 thoughts on “The wicked weekender bag…

  1. I didn’t know you HAND SEWED IT!!! OMG! It is lovely 🙂 ( I am one of the lucky ones to have seen this in real life!) And you know that you inspired me to JFDI too 🙂 Hehe.
    I have even started thinking maybe a second one… coz now I know where all the difficult bits are and some ways to do things better!
    And i sympathise on the whole cutting into your precious… I think I sat there for two weeks just looking at my fabric and not wanting to cut!

    1. Haha Anne I did! It was either that or ditch the damn thing! And yours is so gorgeous too – can’t wait to see it at next years #unplugged ?

  2. I can’t wait to see this in real life!!, And if you want to have another crack at making another one, i’d be happy to be the recipient. I might need an extra bag to bring stuff home 🙂

  3. Tara, I love it, though can’t imagine hand sewing the outer bag! You’re my hero!! I’m also thinking of making another one – with patchwork on the outside!! There are some gorgeous ones out there.

    1. Don’t worry Michelle, I thought I was crazy too ? But I am so happy with how it turned out it was worth it? I think I’d do a quilted patchwork version next, and be a bit smarter with fabric placement – there’s a lot of wasted typewriters in those pockets and on the bottom!

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