I don’t know what it is, but I LOVE sewing handbags. This is weird, because I’ve never been a purse or accessory girl. I only own two purses myself and they certainly wouldn’t be considered “fashionable.” It all started with me sewing some Amy Butler diaper bags. They were the hardest thing I’d ever sewn to that point and they just turned out so cute. I was hooked. Now, I troll the internet looking for cute bag patterns (man oh man, there are lots of them!) and have begun hording home dec fabric. It’s really not healthy. But, my friends and family get to reap the benefits so no one is complaining.
The next up in a long queue of bag patterns is the Amy Butler Blossom Bag from her book “Style Stitches. The pattern is a free download from the Sew Mama Sew website. Isn’t it amazing? Look at the detailing on the handles? Doesn’t it just pull at your heartstrings?
Blossom Bag Pic from Sew Mama Sew
My mom’s birthday is coming up very quickly. I thought this would be the perfect present for a trendy lady like herself. I decided to use the same fabrics that I used for my sister’s bag. I just love the combo.
The pattern is a .pdf. (If you print it, make sure that your printing is to actual size. To do this, ensure that “scale” box is not checked in your print screen. Unfortunately, Amy did not include a test square to measure to double check. Maybe next time, Amy?) After printing, began the laborious process of cutting out all of the pieces.
Blossom Bag Pattern pieces
Cutting out all of the pieces
Next, comes fusing the interfacing and/or stabilizer onto the pieces. Mind numbingly boring, I tell you! The pattern calls for Peltex 70 for the stabilizer, which isn’t fusible. To ensure that it stays where it is supposed to, you fuse the interfacing over it and to the edges of the piece.
Fusing the interfacing with the Peltex inside.
Finished exterior piece with interfacing and Peltex.
When I made the Amy Butler diaper bag, I used fusible Peltex. It might have been a smidge heavier that the Peltex 70, but I think that I prefer it. Using unfusible stabilizer, the exterior piece and the Peltex are still able to move away from one another, which can cause wrinkling and an unfinished look. If I make this bag again, I plan to use fusible Peltex and interfacing. The fabric cutting and the fusing took the longest – several hours. I’m glad that I decided to do those on a different day. Whew!
Next, I added the magnetic snaps. The pattern doesn’t call for a reinforcement of the snap. But, I highly recommend that you slap a piece of the peltex or a piece of fusible fleece back there. It’s a high wear & tear area, better to have some reinforcement!
Reinforcement for the magnetic strap
Magnetic straps, done!
After adding the snaps, it is time to get started on those fantastic looking “faux buckle” details. The are actually quite simple. First, you I sewed on a rectangular-ish piece of fabric in such a say that it left a small tube at the top.
Bottom part of faux-buckle
Then, I made the straps by folding a long, rectangular piece of fabric in half and pressing a center crease. Then, I opened the strap back up and folded each side to the center crease and pressed again. Lastly, I folded the strap at the center crease again — inserted the Peltex for stability – and sewed the perimeter.
First, fold the strap piece in half and press.
Then, open up the strap that you just pressed and fold each side into the center crease and press again.
Before you stitch the strap, you add a piece of the peltex to add stability.
After the straps were finished, I made the ties and tabs (in the same fashion as above – they are just smaller).
Making the ties
Here is where the fun part started and the bag started to come to life! Next, I fed one tie through each of the tubes on the bag.
Ties inserted through tubes.
Then, I bent the ties to form the triangular shapes and sewed the ends of the ties into the ends of each strap. Once the ties were secured to the straps, I covered each join with one of the tabs. It was rather difficult to sew the tabs, as my machine doesn’t like really bulky sewing. But, I took it slow and did a lot of turning the wheel by hand and managed to get through it.
Fabric buckles done!
Next, I sewed the two exterior sides to the bottom exterior panel. Pretty straightforward. Lastly, to finish the exterior, I pinned and sewed the two side panels to the bottom and front/back. It was a bit tricky to get the side panel to sit perfectly in the u-shape that the bottom and front/back make. But, going slowly and using a lot of pins, I think I got a pretty good fit.
The last part of the exterior was finishing the flap. I pinned the flap with interfacing to the flap without (right sides together) and stitched around the edge, leaving enough room in which to turn it inside out. Whew! Then, the exterior of the bag was finished.
Next, it was time to work on the lining. The lining perimeter is pretty easy. It is put together just like the sides of the bag. Once it was finished, I turned it inside out and slipped it over the entire bag exterior and topstitched around the top edge, leaving enough room to turn it right-side out.
Sewing the lining to the exterior
Finished bag lining
Next, I sewed the flap to the bag by measuring 3/8″ down from the top of the back bag panel and making a line. I lined the bottom, straight line of the flap up with this line and pinned it. Then, I stitched three rows of stitches. the first lined up with the topstitching of the edge of the flap. The second, was 3/8″ from that and the last was 3/8″ from the middle.
The dividers were the last big part of the bag. One of the dividers has a zipper and the other one does not. I started with the one sans zipper, as I’m new to zippers. Baby steps. First, I placed one of the dividers with the interfacing and one without right sides together and stitched around the edge (leaving enough of an opening to turn it right side out). I did the same thing with another set of divider pieces. (NOTE: I found my IKEA iron-on hem tape to be a lifesaver for making sure the openings that I had to leave to turn the pieces right side out stayed together and even until I stitched the two finished dividers together. ) Next, you sew the two finished dividers together. This will close the two small openings that you had to leave to turn the dividers right side out.
For the zippered divider, I started by placing the zipper and the divider with the interfacing right sides together and stitching the zipper (1/8″ away from the coils), centered, 1/4″ from the top of the divider. Then, I placed a divider panel without interfacing onto the zippered divider panel, right sides together and stitched around the edge, leaving enough space to turn, and pulling the zipper through.
1/2 of zippered divider panel
I did the same thing with the other side of the zipper – sewed it 1/4″ down onto the last, interfaced divider panel. Then, I placed the last non-interfaced divider panel onto this one, right sides together (the other finished panel and the zipper will be between the two – AWKWARD!) and stitched (as best I could with the bulk in the middle) them together, leaving enough space to turn it right side out. Once it was turned, I used my IKEA hem tape again and then stitched the sides and bottom of each panel together, with the zipper sandwiched in between.
Finished zipper panel
The last step is to insert each divider panel (zippered towards the back) into the bag and tack them in place. I measured 1 and 1/2 ” from each side seam and made a mark. Then, lined up each divider panel with the mark and tacked them into place 1/2″ down and 1/2″ in. I had ready on someone else’s blog that they had real trouble during this step because of the bulk of many layers of fabric. The woman took the entire pressor foot off of her machine to do the job. I tried this, but the fabric was so bulky that the top thread and bobbin thread weren’t even catching one another. Enter, hand sewing. And then, TA DA…..I hope my mom likes it. She deserves about a million of these bags for all the crap she put up with from me when I was a teenager. :-)
Bag interior, close-up