Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Amy Butler Weekender Bag

This post is part of Purse Palooza 2012.
For full schedule of guest post pattern reviews and prizes, click here!

Today’s guest post is Elizabeth from Don’t Call Me Betsy . Elizabeth is an extremely talented quilt pattern designer! You can find all of her free tutorials here, as well as her pattern shop here!!



Hi there, I’m Elizabeth from Don’t Call Me Betsy. Thanks, Sara, for asking me to participate in Purse-Palooza! I’ve seen so many gorgeous bags that I want to make now! I’m reviewing Amy Butler’s famous Weekender Bag, which I made last year for the trip to Sewing Summit. 

Materials needed and what I used

The pattern calls for using home dec fabrics for the bag exterior as well as the cording and lining. I did use home dec fabric for the exterior, but I used a quilting cotton for the lining and the cording, primarily because I fell in love with a particular quilting fabric that I couldn’t get out of my head. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I do wish that I had used a home dec fabric for my lining/handles, as it’s now starting to show a bit of wear after several trips. For my next Weekender, I will definitely stick with the home dec fabrics for the whole bag. The pattern also requires a 30″ non-separating zipper, which was hard for me to track down in the color that I wanted, but thanks to the wonders of the internet and Purl Soho, I was able to find a zipper that worked perfectly. The only other challenging notion that the pattern called for was a sheet of pattern plastic, to use at the bottom of the bag to stabilize it – I was tempted to skip this step, but it really does make the bottom of the bag more sturdy, so I really recommend sticking with it. I was able to find a sheet of pattern plastic at a local quilt shop, but you can also find template plastic at your local Jo-Ann’s.

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The Weekender calls for an amazingly large amount of interfacing, using both Shape Flex (SF-101) and Peltex to give the bag added body and shape. Rather than using the sew-in Peltex heavyweight interfacing that the pattern called for, I used Peltex II, double-sided fusible Peltex…mainly because I’m lazy and it saved me some time. Cut your pattern pieces carefully from the Peltex and Shape Flex, however, as the amount required in the pattern does not leave any wiggle room.

My Weekender mess

Lots of cutting and layers

Yes, there are only three pattern pieces, but you’ve got many layers to cut for each pattern piece. Take your time. There are 23 pieces of interfacing you need to cut and 22 pieces of fabric you’ll cut for this bag. Plan to spend a good bit of time cutting pattern pieces as well as fabric and interfacing for this pattern. And I recommend working with a denim or jeans needle for this bag, as you’ll be sewing through multiple layers of interfacing, fabric, and cording throughout, and regular needles often buckle and break when working with this many layers. Using your walking foot/dual-feed foot is also very helpful to keep the layers together!

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Easy to follow?

Amy Butler’s patterns are very thorough and full of lots of descriptive language. Personally, I would have liked to see more diagrams to better illustrate the directions, but I’m a very visual learner. If you’re a visual learner like me, just take it slow and re-read each step a few times before actually tackling it, to make sure you’re digesting the whole step. The challenge of this bag isn’t so much in following the directions, it’s in executing getting all of the layers sewn together!

Almost there!

Modifications

Aside from altering the materials slightly as detailed above, I really didn’t make any alterations to the way the bag is put together. Now that I’ve used the bag many times, there are a few things that I would add to my next Weekender – for instance, I would have liked having an interior pocket that’s approximately passport-sized for important papers while traveling. A longer shoulder strap would also have been a very smart add-on, as the bag can be somewhat uncomfortable to carry on your shoulder when it’s filled to the brim.

Ready to be stuffed full!

Difficulty level

Intermediate to advanced, though really ambitious confident beginners who can follow directions well could definitely try to tackle this pattern. This bag can definitely be completed in a weekend, but I recommend spreading out the steps and taking your time with this bag, as it can the multiple layers can make the construction maddening at times! Take your time, take a break when the bag starts to drive you crazy!

Off to the airport we go!

Conclusion

The Weekender bag is considered the holy grail of bags by a lot of sewists, and for a good reason – it is a gorgeous bag! I love the way mine turned out and I’m so glad that I tackled it. Yes, the pattern is tedious and time-consuming, but it is entirely do-able. The bag turns out exactly the way it looks on the front of the pattern and looks very polished, and I’m actually getting ready to making another later this summer. I love how large it is and how much it can hold; it’s the perfect carry-on when I travel. To read more about my {mis}adventures with my first Weekender, you can read more here, and stay tuned for my second one!

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20 thoughts on “Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Amy Butler Weekender Bag

  1. Oh, I love it. I have been wanting to make a big bag…think this is the ticket. Thanks for (yet another here) the great review!! I am learning so much from this series.

  2. Thanks for the review. It’s one I’ve been considering, but then also trying to work out if it’s really right for what I need out of a weekend bag. My bad shoulders immediately want a longer strap though, hmmmm…

  3. Great review. You are right; this is the holy grail. I made one about 3 years ago, and immediately thought, “I’m glad I made one, but I’ll never do This again!”. Now, I might be ready to jump in again.

  4. only made one amy butler bag…thank goodness i did it at a quilt retreat…when i started crying in frustration people came and helped me…no more any butler for me

  5. I just love this bag and would really love to make it – I just might take the leap and be brave – your review have give me the courage – thank you!!!!

  6. LOL! I’m currently working on this bag and am just about done. Then, I open my e-mail and you posted a review!! I whole-heartedly agree with your review. It’s a wonderful bag, but it’s very time consuming. All that cutting and those layers!! AHHH!! Primal scream therapy!! I added interior pockets (one zipper one and one not), added length to the straps and feet to the bottom as the thought of it sitting on the icky ground makes me twitchy. You did a beautiful job on yours! Thanks for the review!

    1. Oops clicked before I was ready. The bags are wonderful. I fixed my mistakes in the second bag as the directions were a little sketchy in places. Nice tutorial.

  7. I’ve got the pattern but have yet to make it. I know several people who’ve made it and they all say what a difficult one it is ~ mostly because of all the pieces and very wordy (I’m a visual learner too). That being said, it’s such a cute bag, I’ve got to make one for me and one for my DIL!

  8. Your review is so helpful. I’d so love to make this bag AND in those wonderful blues! I’d put the longer straps also as it is so much easier to carry a lot of stuff when each can be ‘slung’ over a shoulder, arm, wrist etc. I’m not much of a sewer, hand work is my love, but your tut gives me the umph I needed to try it.
    shariwild@yahoo.com

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