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!

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Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew by Yuka Koshizen – Review

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Yuka Koshizen’s sewing book “Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew” and I immediately  fell in love with the bag (titled the “Left Bank Granny Bag” in the book) and had to make it right away.

Image courtesy of Amazon

I put all my other sewing projects on hold (impulsive stitching, I know, I know) and got started. This was my first time sewing from a Japanese craft book and while I’ve been admiring Japanese craft books for some time now, I’ve been intimidated by the instructions for no good reason. They’re so easy to follow! Yes they do require you to check out the precise measurements before you cut your fabric, and yes, you do have to draft the pattern  yourself based on instructions provided but after this book I realized that I love this process so much more than tracing and cutting out paper patterns.

I often have mixed feelings about accessory craft and sewing books because while I like one or two projects, I feel the rest are fillers and not challenging enough. But this book took my breath away, each and every single project is so tastefully designed and doesn’t give off the Vera Bradley vibe (which I do like, but not for every single bag I make). You can even make your own suitcase!

Anyways, after two days of obsessive stitching…voila!

All images property of Beautifully Sewn, 2011

All images property of Beautifully Sewn, 2011

As you can see, the stitching is not as beautiful as I would have liked but  my only defense for that is that my old machine (from the 1980’s) was acting up. I added a zippered pocket on the inside, and used a heavyweight non-woven fusible interfacing on the bag lining. The instructions call for interfacing on the outside bag and the lining but my outside fabric was pretty sturdy (a corduroy home decor remnant that I bought years ago when I worked in a fabric shop) so I skipped that. I used a mystery rayon fashion fabric for the lining and it was kind of finicky because it was slippery. The fabrics kept unraveling so I used a zigzag stitch for most of the construction to limit fraying. I hand stitched blue bias tape along the top bands for a decorative finish.

I love that the instructions for pleating are all up to the individual stitcher, that way you can personalize the design details to suit your taste. There are no closures but it should be easy enough to include them as you like. Be warned that this bag is incredibly roomy (my mom used it as a weekender bag) and if you’re looking for something smaller you can scale it down.

Not all the projects are this time-efficient and while I would love to make my own suitcase, it just seems like a project I’d start and never finish because of all the details. Some of the other projects that caught my eye in this book were a laptop bag, beachbag, and cute circle shaped cross-body bag. All in all, I absolutely love this book and would actually like to make every single project in it if I didn’t get so distracted by other projects (hehe). I highly recommend it to an intermediate sewer (if sewing bags is your thing), only because an absolute beginner might have some trouble figuring out the pattern diagrams, but that being said, if you love it as much as I do just dive in and make it  regardless of where you are with sewing because the projects are practical and extremely well constructed and you’ll build on your skills.

I wish I had taken pictures of the inside of the book and time to make more of the projects  in it but I borrowed the book from the library and didn’t get around to it before it was due back. Ah well, I’ll probably end up buying it anyways!