Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Amy Butler Spice Market Tote

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

Jess of Sew Crafty Jess is a quilting monster…you can see all of her completed quilts by clicking on the tabs at the top of her site. If you check out the quilts for this year, there are 15…if my (bad) math is correct, that’s 2 quilts a month! And they are just lovely…please go visit Sew Crafty Jess and check it out!


Thanks so much Sara for having me today, I’m excited to share my review of the Amy Butler Spice Market Tote!

Interfacing and Fabrics  The Spice Market tote calls for either Home Dec Weight fabric, or an option of quilting weight cotton fabric.  I used some Waverly Home Dec weight fabric I picked up at Joann’s with one of my trusty coupons, and I would highly highly recommend using a heavier fabric over thinner cotton, for durability. This pattern also calls for light to medium weight interfacing, and as with any Amy Butler pattern, this pattern calls for boatloads of it!  To the tune of I think 7 yards, yikes!  As is called for in the instructions, I used Pellon Shape Flex, or SF 101.  I really like this interfacing for bags, and highly recommend it.


Pattern Pieces There are 4 pattern pieces to cut out, and they are on standard printer weight paper, so very easy to cut.  This pattern has both a large and small option, so for the larger option, there are a few “extender pieces” to cut out, both for the straps and the main body piece.  I will say, after cutting all the pieces out, I realized that all the pattern pieces are straight squares or rectangles, so pattern pieces aren’t 100% necessary, if you measure the dimensions.


Illustrations/Instructions  If you have ever worked with an Amy Butler pattern before you will know that detailed pictures in her instructions are few and far between.  With that said, there are a few drawn pictures detailing some of the marking points, but her instructions are very clear and concise, leaving me understanding each step quite clearly.


  • I pretty much made the bag as is.  The only real modification I made was to sew the middle parts of the handles together.  I found the straps to be quite wide, and sort of odd to either hold in my hand or put on my shoulder.  doing this really helped with the fit of the bag on my shoulder, and also sort of gave it “handles”.  
  • I sort of balked when I read the amount of interfacing this pattern called for, 2 layers of interfacing on both sides of the outer fabric AND the lining fabric!  I did go ahead and use all the interfacing she called for, but if you are using home dec weight fabric, you could certainly only use 1 layer of interfacing on the lining (or even none at all) and I’m sure the bag would hold up just fine. 
  • The pattern also calls for a false bottom panel to be cut out of template plastic.  I chose to forgo the false bottom (mostly because I didn’t have any template plastic on hand) but I found with the home dec weight fabric, and the quadruple interfaced bag, The bottom really actually holds it shape quite well, and I really didn’t need it.  If you choose to leave off some of the interfacing, including this bottom piece might be a good idea.

Difficulty Level  I would rate this bag as a beginner pattern.  This would be a great bag to start with if you are looking to try some of Amy’s more complicated patterns, just to get used to the way she lays the directions out and the wording.  The only semi tricky part I could foresee would be working out the gusset bottom if you’ve never done one, but the directions are quite clear, and there actually is a drawing of this step.


Conclusion  I really enjoyed working on this bag, and it is a very generous size, leaving it to be used for many things.  The bag comes together very quickly, I cut, interfaced and sewed the entire bag together in one evening of sewing (I’d say from start to finish it took appx 3 1/2 hours).  Overall I would highly recommend this bag, and dare I say I may even like it a bit more than my Jane Market totes!  The only reason I say this is for the way the straps are attached, I love how these run all the way down the sides, giving more reinforcement for packing the bag full and carrying lots of groceries!

Thanks again Sara for having me, and happy stitching!  Don’t forget to join in the fun and add your bags to the Purse Palooza flickr group!

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