Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 26 Beautiful Bags to Sew – Review

Last spring I got my hands on a copy of Amy Butler’s Style Stitches and in my opinion, it is the most visually appealing craft/sewing book I’ve ever seen. I’m a huge Amy Butler fan, her textile prints and patterns are pure eye candy. She really plays up the beauty of her fabric prints throughout the book and the colors are vivid, bright and fresh. The photography (all done by her husband, David Butler) is beautiful and when you first flip through it you really want to make everything in this book.

Image Courtesy of Amy Butler Design

There are some truly gorgeous bags in here, some of my faves are:

The Blossom Handbag, an advanced level project which Amy generously offered as a *free* download over at Sew Mama Sew:

Image courtesy of Amy Butler Design

The Take Flight Hand/Shoulder Bag, the hardest but prettiest project (at least to me) in the book.

Image Courtesy of Amy Butler Design

After a few weeks of just staring at the pages in this book, I decided that I had to make something and picked the Reversible Everyday Shopper Bag, which is the second project in the book and is rated as “Easy”.

Image courtesy of Amy Butler Design

Prior to this I hadn’t made anything from an Amy Butler pattern and didn’t realize how much interfacing and fabric it required (to be fair though, this is a HUGE bag). The woman in the fabric store kept asking “you are making a bag? how big?” and didn’t really believe me when I said I needed 5 1/2 yards of 20″ interfacing until I showed her the book (and even then she just shrugged and said “if you say so…”).

The rating on the project is correct, it is easy but it is also time consuming. It’s just a bunch of differently sized rectangles with clean straight edges, so if you’re a novice who would rather practice straight stitching until you master manipulating your fabric under the presser foot, of all the bags in this book, this is the bag for you. The instructions and diagrams in this book are very clear and I had no problems putting this one together. Be warned however that there are many thick layers to stitch through (true for most of the projects in this book) so if you’re new go slowly to keep a steady hand and manipulate layers (yes, layers) of fabric on your machine. I broke two needles and bent one (keeping in mind that I was using my very basic Singer Prelude machine because my old trusty Merritt broke down) so stock up on supplies like needles and other notions just to be prepared.

For the exterior and interior I used a psychedelic quilting cotton print from Cranston Village. It was loud and colorful and I have no idea why I was drawn to it but I saw it and knew that it was my bag so…Voila! (it is a little bit wrinkly, I just pulled it out of my closet):


I absolutely love my bag, it’s HUGE, like really big. In the summer I was taking an art class and used it to put everything in, canvas, paints, paintbrushes, sketchbooks, you name it. I got tons of compliments on it and it is extremely sturdy. At the moment however, it’s being used to store my purses, LOL yes, you read that right, I made a bag to carry other bags in. A friend of mine who was also making this bag said it was big enough for her to carry her petite mother around in. Okay, it’s not really big enough to carry around a little 4 foot woman around in it but you get the idea.

After making this bag, I realized that 1) I love everything Amy Butler makes even more now and that 2) because the projects are time consuming, I can’t make everything in the book. I think I’ll skip on the coin purses, cosmetic bags and checkbook cover, but I definitely plan on making all the other bags. If you want to see all of the projects featured in this book, head on over to Amy Butler Design to check them out, your eyes will thank you!

This book is a keeper guys, if you love to sew, it’s worth every penny.

In other news, my Minoru jacket fell by the wayside (I didn’t even finish cutting out the muslin) and I plan on catching up but I got distracted by unfinished projects from 2011 and then I started on Colette’s Crepe pattern…Ces’t la sewing!


Faux-Serged Seam Finish for Knit Fabrics in 5 Easy Steps!

I love sewing with knit fabrics but I know they can seem intimidating to some us of, especially when you don’t own or use a serger to finish off your seams. No fear! I’m going to share a quick and easy way to get a seam finish that is similar to using a serger and all you need is your sewing machine and the zig zag stitch! Let’s begin:

Step one:

Here is my 3/8″ (roughly 1 cm) seam allowance, as you can see I’ve used a smaller zig zag stitch to sew up my side seams as per the pattern instructions.

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 Step 2:

Snip your seam allowance in half.

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Step 3:

Using your zig-zag stitch at the widest setting and a stitch length of about 3 (or whatever suits you!) position you fabric under the presser foot and just test out your stitch (manually) and make sure that when your needle goes to the left, it comes down right beside the farthest part of your original seam.

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Then move your needle (manually) to the right and make sure that the needle falls just outside of your fabric.

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Step 4:

Start stitching away, don’t forget to backstitch in the beginning and go slowly at first if you need to.

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Stop and check to see if it’s coming along nicely, you want to make sure that the thread catches the ends of your fabric, think of it as “left stitch on the fabric, right stitch off the fabric” (I just realized that I didn’t snip all my stray threads off…lol).

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Step 5:

Finish it off! Voila!

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All images property of Beautifully Sewn

How easy was that?! Now you try and keep on delaying that serger purchase you’ve been mulling over in your head (be honest we’ll all cave in one day!).

As always feel free to share your own tips and tricks for sewing with knit fabrics, the more the better 🙂



Techne Tou Biou: The Craft of Life

“We can return now to one of Plato’s expressions for care of the soul, techne tou biou, the craft of life. Care of the soul requires craft (techne) – skill, attention, and art. To live with a high degree of artfulness means to attend to the small things that keep the soul engaged in whatever we are doing, and it is the very heart of soul-making. From some grand overview of life, it may seem that only the big events are ultimately important. But to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.”

– Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul (1992)

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The Wonky Pound Sign Block

I completed the second and final quilt block for the month of January via Craftsy’s Block of the Month Course with Amy Gibson. It’s called the “Wonky Pound Sign Block” and uses the same slashing method as the “Asterisk Block”.

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This time I used IKEA’s Cecilia print as the background fabric and the IKEA Ditte fabric as the two vertical strips. I wanted to use the bird in the middle as the focal point for this block, giving it a mod topiary theme. I also wanted to use this block to introduce more colors into my quilt so I made the horizontal strips out of my remaining cotton quilting fabric scraps from Cranston Village’s V.I.P collection. I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out even though even though some of my wonky strips don’t match up perfectly (yeah, its a really wonky block). I haven’t squared up my two blocks yet, I’m holding off on that until all my blocks are complete.

So that’s that for quilting this month (or is it…?)

On to the muslin for the Minoru jacket, wish me luck !

The Asterisk Block

I’m so excited to share my very first completed quilt block with you!

The asterisk block is the first of two quilt blocks featured for the month of January via Craftsy’s free year long course “Block of the Month” taught by Amy Gibson. Both fabrics are from IKEA and have been sitting in my stash since the summer.  The solid green is from IKEA’s “Ditte” line, and the printed one is “Cecilia”. As an absolute novice quilter I have to say that after watching the first video, I love the Craftsy teaching format because you can watch the video as many times as you want, and the patterns are provided in pdf format to download and print if you need constant reminders during cutting (I definitely did). Amy Gibson is an amazing teacher and the pace of the course is perfect (two blocks a month) and by the end of the year I hope to have a cute mod lap quilt completed.

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Can you believe this block only took me two hours to complete?! I thought quilting was so much more complicated but not with blocks likes these!

That’s one new years resolution off to a good start, next up is the wonky pound sign block!

Sewing and Crafting Resolutions for 2012

Happy New Year!

Not much of a post today other than sharing  my ten sewing and craft related new years resolutions, so here goes:

1. Sew my first quilt via Amy Gibson’s free course on Craftsy, I’m all signed up and super excited about this. I plan on using up my two laundry hampers full of cotton and poly-cotton scraps…yikes!

2. Sewing with the Minoru Sew-Along via Tasia over at Sewaholic. I’ve been counting down the days for this one, I’ve got my fabric picked out and now it’s just a matter of making and fitting my muslin before I cut into my nice fabric. If all goes well this will be my first piece of hand made outerwear!

3. Sewing with my first vintage (or vintage repro) pattern. I found some amazing deals this past holiday season and have some lovely patterns from the 1930’s to 1960’s that I can’t wait to use!

4. More cutting/sewing on the bias, it scares me but its time to face my fears.

5. Stashbusting. Enough said.

6. I need to finish drafting my sloper, it’s just sitting around staring at me saying “finish me! finish me!”.

7. More sewing for the guys in my life. I made a sleek and practical  kindle case for father’s day (via Junie Moon) but after that I was out of ideas (tie silk isn’t always easily available in Canada, the only other idea I thought of).

8. I’ve had this gorgeous embroidery wall-art idea in my mind for a couple months now but it needs to be expressed otherwise I’ll just obsess about planning it, therefore more action and less planning when it comes to embroidery.

9. Knit and/or crochet at least one wearable item this year. Knitting is so therapeutic.

10. More blogging including publishing tutorials and inspiration that have been in draft mode for over a month now.

So that’s that! I thought about resolving to “not buy new fabric/patterns/yarn/craft-sewing books”  but the key to keeping your resolutions is being realistic about them, plus I’m waiting for Gertie’s book to be released so I’m actually looking forward to getting more supplies (yes, patterns are supplies :)).

I’m excited for 2012, lots of new things to learn, try and complete!